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Thursday, April 15, 2010

School Violence: What's the Limit?


If we think back to Columbine and Virginia Tech, hind sight reveals many discrepancies between what staff should have done and what actually happened with students who are troubled. How far should educators go to protect their schools? To what extent, though, are we violating the student's rights? Some people think that metal detectors create legal concerns. NASP recognizes that the role of a school psychologist is a vital one.

It “encourages school psychologists’ to take a leadership role in developing comprehensive approaches to violence reduction and crisis response in schools.” (NASP 2006) As per, NASP, school psychologists are trained to provide all students with valuable resources and also develop effective interventions.

But should the responsibility in developing comprehensive approaches to violence reduction fall mainly on the the school psychologist?

This Blog was created by Ana Palma, Alarys Medina and Amanda Bisheit.

35 comments:

Mark said...

This is interesting because in the readings it would seem that we are in the position to qualify as leaders in educating the students and faculty. However, the administrators should take the lead and collaborate with school psychologists and guidance staff to address these concerns with faculty and students.

Rebeccca said...

Mark, I agree that school administrators are the ones who need to take the lead and we should offer assistance. In terms of discipline, we should offer our knowledge of punishment and reinforcment so that violent behavior is truely being detered for every student. Fruthermore, we should help to educate other faculty members about the warning signs of violent beavhior but ultimately the creation of a plan lies with the administrators in my opinion.

Danielle Allegra said...

i don't think that the school psychologists should be the only ones the responsibility falls on.. i think teachers and administrators should work with the school psychologists, and all three having knowledge and being trained about violence in school and intervention strategies, all three being equally involved.. i don't think the metal detectors are violating students' rights, it's disturbing that in the world we live in today we should have them, but its the reality.. about virginia tech, for example.. i definitely think intervention could have been done prior the shooting. the killer was writing disturbing stories in his classes, showing abnormal signs of behavior, writing anonymous on the sign in sheet? i mean, i think the teachers, administrators, psychologists all should have taken an extra step in makin sure this person seeked help. i know it always poses the question about infringing on student's rights, but aren't the victims rights infringed on now?

Stefanie said...

I think that the best thing to do is to have a crisis intervention team that consists of some teachers the principal, guidance, and nurse. This would be a collaborative effort on everyone's part, because no one person can be solely responsible for the actions of the students in a school. I also think that they should have a group of students who help to educate the other students on these school violence issues. When students hear it from other students they seem to listen more.
As far as going to far, I don't think it matters. We live in a society now that kids are fearless they are not worried about the consequences. In certain areas metal detectors are a necessity and I for one would not oblige to being checked or having to walk through one if I was in school today. I would rather be safe than sorry and it takes a minute out of my day but gives me my life. It is sad but usually the only reason schools go so far as to have more security and metal detectors is because something tragic has already happened.

Ana said...

I think it's great that you all mentioned that this effort has to be a collaborative one. I came across a great article that focused on the importance of collaboration and also creating safe and trusting environments for all students. Stefanie, I think the idea of having students educate other students is a great idea. The article, didn't mention students as part of the collaborative effort but it did mention the importance of family and community involvement. So adding a student group to the "safety team" can be quite beneficial. I'm glad that we feel that it truly has to be a team effort and not just the school psychologist's responsibility. I am going to post the link to this article, which can be found on NASP. If you read it, please feel free to comment. I found it very interesting and I would like to know if you find it helpful.

Ana said...

Here it is http://www.nasponline.org/resources/principals/Student%20Counseling%20Violence%20Prevention.pdf

Mark said...

I also agree that students could take an active role in creating a safer environment. In some schools they have peer mediation programs that train students to help resolv conflicts among their peers. If this can be done than why not create a "safety team" as someone put it.

Rebeccca said...

I think another important point is that it has to be a team approach because, as school psychs, we do not work with a large majority of the students in a school. Even the students we do work with we may only see periodically and not on a regular basis. That is why we need the help of teachers as well as students because they are the ones most likely to see the warning signs.

Alarys said...

Everyone brings up a valid point, Rebecca and Danielle are right this should not be left solely as the responsibility of the school psych. Mark brings up a good point also that an administrator should be in the forefront of initiating a crisis team. However some schools may not have a team put in place. From experience, for those of you who are in a school, how does the administration handle situations such as these? For those of us not at a district, what strategies would you put in place to manage situations such as these?

Anel said...

Stefanie, including the students is a great idea. Often times, when a crisis occurs, many students will come forward with what they then realize may have been warning signs. But we cannot expect them to always know what to do with the information they have. I think it's hard for many teenagers to gauge the severity of a situation. We need to be able to provide some guidance for them, and also for teachers. It is most certainly a team effort.

AmandaBish said...

We posed the question "should the responsibility in developing comprehensive approaches to violence reduction fall mainly on the the school psychologist?" and all of you answered that. There's no way it would even be feasible for the responsibility to be mainly on the SP. But what aspect exactly should be our main duty? The creation, the implementation, the reinforcement, the training? I'm not asking you to make a plan, but just for your general opinion. Are there guidelines for school psychologists or standards which state or explore this question?

Denise said...

Stefanie, love your idea, was thinking of something like that myself. I totally agree there should be a team in place that runs crisis intervention. They should follow a certain protocol and abide by the same rules. I don't think there should be one person responsible for the well being of all students. That would be ridiculous. We all know there are strengths in numbers. A collaborative approach would be the best case scenario in tackling this problem.

I don't think we are violating students' rights by using metal detectors. There have been way too many incidents involving tragedies that may have not occurred had these types of safety precautions already been put in place.

Mark said...

Amanda wrote what are our responsibilities and what should we focus on. I believe as s.p. we can take on creation, training, etc. It may seem like a lot but aren't we looking to expand our role and redefine what we done in the school? It may be harder to implement because we need the backing of administration and the funds if necessary, but if we are looking to make change it has to start with us.

Prattima Kaulessar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Prattima Kaulessar said...

Everyone has made excellent points! A Crisis Intervention Team is a great idea and has been implemented in some school districts. Other districts have Crisis Intervention Teachers in each building that houses middle school and high school children.

Students’ educating their peers is a wonderful idea. Research indicates students benefit from cooperative student-driving learning. This scenario is no exception. In addition, students being responsible for educating others will force them to become more responsible which helps students take a more proactive role in the social system of their schools and may build a foundation where significant positive changes can occur.

In reference to the original question, I believe school psychologists should follow the lead of the school administration. While it is true school psychologists are trained in handling these sensitive issues, school psychologists must obtain permission from the administration in order to provide in-direct services to faculty and staff. For this reason, everyone (administration and crisis intervention staff) must be in agreement as to the severity of the situation and the proper course of action to be followed.

Danielle Allegra said...

To answer Amanda's question, i think our main duty should be the training component. we would probably have the most exposure,although not a lot, to knowledge about school violence. there could be monthly meetings with the school psych. and teachers, administrators, possibly even parents and students, to discuss signs and implement strategies to prevent it, it could be an ongoing collaborative effort

Ana said...

I definitely feel that it is important that school psychologists train faculty members in areas such as, how to assess unhealthy/ threatening behavior (increased aggression, hurting self or others, etc.) Of course after we assess we must have an action plan and I think that it is critical for school psychologists to be able to train other staff on handling such behaviors. As far as the creation, implementation and reinforcement of the "plan", I feel that this is where it MUST be collaborative among all faculty members. There is only so much a school psychologists can do because aside from training staff, school psychologists will be the ones that will counsel the students that teachers feel are a threat. One important thing that MUST be talked about and everyone should be trained in is Bullying! Let's not forget that extensive and severe bullying can cause someone to become unstable and in turn become violent.

Rebeccca said...

I think that making students and faculty walk through metal detectors is a good idea. I would rather take an extra 5 minutes to get inside school or work rather than have students able to bring in knifes or guns.

I once worked in a school that did not allow students to wear baggy sweatshirt or pants, carry a backpack, or wear a coat. They did this so students could not conceil weapons...I think a metal detector would be less of an inconvience.

AmandaBish said...

Dr. Pastor mentioned in class that as part of our externship we may have to head a faculty/staff meeting. I think that some training in preventing school violence would be an excellent topic. I agree with Mark that training should be one of our responsibilities. It doesn't have to be every month! Two really informative meetings can give information that will stick in your head for a while like warning signs and stuff. Just encouraging staff to seek a second opinion when they have an inkling can make all the difference.

Danielle Muhammad said...

I agree with Stefanie. Having a crisis intervention team is essential when trying to confront difficult issues in the school system including issues pertaining to violence. Since all staff members in a school are responsible for ensuring the safety of all students, I think a collaborative effort is the best strategy.
When I think back to Columbine and VA Tech, I wonder how many people (teachers, students, and staff) failed to recognize signs. There is no single individual that can be held responsible for violent acts such as these. As educators we all have to do our best to make sure that all of the children are safe and I believe school psychologist should do the same.

Alaafia said...

I also think, having an anonymous telephone hotline that can be called into 24/7 to report strange and unusual behaviors can be set up too in addition to all the aforementioned plans. If both students and teachers are trained on what to be on the look out for in terms of warning signs, and they are given a safe haven to report any suspicious behavior without being identified, I believe this will go a long way in alleviating school violence.

Also, the school administration should set up something like a 'suggestion box' in a safe place where anyone can drop a note reporting any strange behavior. Following up on all these leads should be the duty of the school psychologist, and it should be handled with the same seriousness as if it were someone reporting sings of attempting to commit suicide.

Alarys said...

These are some great ideas, but something Danielle brought up is interesting. When you said involving the parents. This is a very important part because we do not see what happens at home for the majority of our students and parent involvement is key to getting a student help for violent behavior. How else can we utilize parents to spread the message? Do you feel that an after school assembly is sufficient to get parents involved?

Mark said...

Involving the parents is just as important as having knowledge of a disorder because that person does not operate in a vaccuum, how do we know what the student is doing once they leave our sights? If we are all held liable than perhaps staff and families will be more vigilant and willing to keep open communication.

AmandaBish said...

Alarys & Danielle are absolutely right. I'd like to think that someday as a parent, I will be able to recognize if my kid owns guns, and is videotaping himself and what not like in the columbine case. But you never know! I hid a lot from my parents (not guns) and I think they did a great job raising me. So it's important to also create workshops to teach parents to be aware.

stefanie said...

I agree with getting parents involved but maybe having something to do with the PTO like an after school workshop. Involve parents after school hours once you involve them in the day it could become a problem. We have teachers in our districts that do all kinds of workshops after school and I think that is an excellent idea!

Mike said...

While I don't agree that the responsibility in developing a comprehensive approach should fall squarely on the school psychologist, I believe that as we often do, we must act as advocates and facilitators in addressing the need to reduce violence in the school system. I feel that education and prevention go hand in hand with regard to school violence. The teamwork approach works best here, and it is necessary to have school administrators, teachers, students, and parents involved with the school psychologist in order to have any real success here. It would be helpful if federal aid was more readily available to set up programs like my classmates have mentioned, such as an anonymous hotline so that suspicious and potentially dangerous behavior can be reported. As far as imposing on the rights of students, it is our responsibility to protect them from harm first and foremost. In situations of metal detectors and locker searches, it is important to incorporate this comprehensive model of prevention before it escalates to the level of infringement on student rights.

Ana said...

Involving parents in such plans is a great idea. They are a prominent part of the child's environment and may know things that faculty members are unaware of. Because there is a lack of parental involvement in many aspects of schools, school psychologists and other faculty will have be creative in developing ways for involving parents! I, myself, can't think of anything at the moment except for parent workshops and/or meetings but this may be something that we may want to research for future reference.

Alaafia said...

Getting the parents involved is really really important and crucial. Ensuring that they are in constant conversation with their kids and knowing what they are up to will go a long way in making sure that they are able to detect any first signs of violence that their kids maybe exhibiting and curb, or seek help for them before the situation escalates to another Columbine.

In another sense, having the parents participate in an after school assembly is a good start, but should not just be a one-off thing, it has to be something that they will be bringing back to the parents from time to time to keep them abreast of new strategies and findings as they become known.

Prattima Kaulessar said...

Parental involvement is a big step in the right direction. However, some parents do not want to be an equal partner in the education and social/emotional development of their children for they feel it is the school’s responsibility to handle these situations. How can we encourage parents to become more actively involved in the lives of their children?

Danielle Allegra said...

i think we could encourage more parents to be active participants by sending home newsletters about meetings, that are made to be fun instead of just a "normal" meeting. maybe it could be either after school or on a saturday and serve punch and cupcakes (an incentive for the kids to come as well) and a chance for the parents to get to understand what is going on in the school and school news

Anel said...

Prattima, you bring up an important question in terms of parents who may want to place the responsibility solely on the school, and not become as involved. Some feel that those in the school know best, and that they cannot contribute anything significant.

One point that we can focus on with parents is the fact that they form the other part of the equation here. We cannot see what the child is doing at home, but the parents can. In many cases of school violence, the parents feel that they missed important signs right in their home. We can help them identify any changes in their child's behavior or routine. As others have stated, it is important to have them take an active role.

Danielle Muhammad said...

Getting parents involved is crucial, but unlikely when working in an urban district. I have parents who have not visited the school to pick up report cards, speak to teachers, or address any concerns for that matter. So what do you do in a situation like this? My school attempts to host workshops and events that parents would likely enjoy, but they don't show up.

Also, I think the 24 hour hotline is a great idea. Camilla Brant

Rebeccca said...

I agree that parents need to get involved but like many of you said it is not easy to do so. Perhaps phone calls would help more than holding meetins. Maybe useing a weekly message such as 2 or 3 things to look for, where you can get help, what to ask students and things like that. maybe if it only took up 5 minutes once a week it would be more practical for parents then attending a meeting. I know everyone does not have a phone but perhaps more can be reached this way.

Also, I know in a lot of urban setting even thought parents will not always come into school they do attend church everyweek. Maybe making it a community wide issue and involving churches and things of that sort can help.

Mark said...

I like the community outreach point, if you target and draw attention to issues that impact the school and community you may make some progress. Working with parents you have to be amenable and willing to meet them on their time.

Stefanie said...

Rebecca I agree with you, but I don't think involving a church is a good idea. I believe that it would be against school policy and those who do not go to church could feel as though they do not have the same help as those who do. I think that if you make help available the ones who want it will reach out for it and the ones who don't care will continue not to care no matter how much you try