Who's Outside the Box

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Less Reactive, More Proactive: Violence Prevention and Crisis Management

The recent estimate of school associated violent deaths is 14 homicides and 3 suicides. An estimated 1.5 million non-fatal crimes have occurred at school, 628,200 violent crimes (simple assault to serious injury) have been committed. According to the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES), 86% of our public schools report that at least one violent crime occurred at their facility during the 2005-2006 school year.

The crimes include physical assault on a student or staff member with or without a weapon, threats of injury with or without a weapon to self or to others, possession of weapons, sexual harassment, verbal abuse and bullying, and terroristic threats.

Most public schools employ a Zero Tolerance Policy to remove student offenders. If a student with an educational disability is the perpetrator of the offence, IEP teams are called upon at this point to possibly intervene with an FBA and BIP. In addition to post-violence intervention, what actions can/should the school psychologist take in the prevention of violent behavior school wide?

Likewise for crisis management – the procedures followed immediately after an incidence or threat of violence. School psychologists play an important role as a school-based mental health professional and a link to family and the community during and after a crisis situation. What measures can the school psychologist take to reduce the number of crisis situations? Can school psychologists help school systems become more proactive in regard to crisis and violence, thereby maintaining a safe haven of academic achievement and social growth? What are the ethical and legal implications of dealing with crises and violent crimes within the schools?

This blog was created by Judy Lamanna

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Facing the Virtual Reality of Bullying

Cyberbullying may involve the use of instant messaging (IM), small text messages (SMS), email, chat rooms or bash boards, websites, and voting booths. Because of the anonymity, children are more likely to say things that they would never say face-to-face. There is no escape from this type of bullying because it occurs twenty four hours a day. A victim feels more vulnerable and alone because the emotional damage lasts a lot longer than a black eye.

The story of thirteen year old Alex from Virginia cannot be forgotten. Like other teenagers, Alex spent a lot of time on the computer. Unfortunately, during this time, a group of girls teased and tormented him about his size and physical ability through an instant messaging service. In June 2004, Alex shot himself with his grandfather's gun. This suicide was linked to cyberbullying after searching his computer because all files had been deleted except a note stating, "The only way to get the respect you deserve is to die." How many other students have to die before schools nationwide acknowledge and prevent this form of bullying?

School districts often find themselves caught between their legal and moral obligation to provide a safe environment that promotes learning and their students' constitutional right to freedom of speech and privacy. The popularity of social networking is rapidly increasing. Myspace.com currently has more than one hundred million members and similar sites are continuously popping up. This makes one point very clear: this issue is not going away. What can we do as school psychologists to prevent cyberbullying in schools and homes without infringing on the student's constitutional rights?

This Blog was created by Katie Blades.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

RTI: What about US?

Twenty percent of pre-school aged children exhibit moderate to clinically significant emotional and behavioral difficulties, which will ultimately place them at greater risk for disruption of the learning process. While policy changes of the 21st century are moving toward a Response to Intervention (RTI) in order to better serve these students, what is happening to the children that are placed in districts where the typical assessment procedures remain? Shouldn’t school psychologists work with children during the critical period of development and learning?

Are these students simply stuck inside the box along with the practitioners who guide them? It is likely that by the time RTI is adopted across the nation, many students will have graduated without the necessary tools that prepare them for a career or higher learning. With this frightening reality in mind, how will School Psychologists, school administrators and the like justify their decision to remain inside the box?
(This Blog was created by Christen M. Sylvester)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

We Make a Difference

School Psychology Awareness Week
November 10-14, 2008.

Recently I was saddened by a conversation I had with a fellow school psychologist when I was told "there isn't enough time to celebrate everyone." Needless to say, that school was not participating or even acknowledging School Psychology Awareness Week. 

I would like to know that we, a select few, are not the only ones who believe that school psychologists make a difference. How is your district embracing this week and what are you doing to bring awareness to others?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Box is Open

It is so easy to act within the confines of our education. We practice what we learn, do as we are told, and become what "they" make of us. And when we can't keep up with the solutions, we reinvent the problem. Here we are, outside the box, in search of answers, new perspectives, and the willingness to raise difficult questions. 

The Box is Open...what does it mean to be a school psychologist outside the box?