Sandy Hook Chooses Love after Mass Shooting, A Reverend Rebuilds His Town after Tornado, and a Teacher Creates a Culture of Safety in Schools

Blog_HeaderEmergencies may occur when an institution is most vulnerable, and while it goes without saying– they do not discriminate because of the holiday season! The best defense against an event occurring is to make sure that you are prepared. While there are lessons learned along the way, it is the hard work of the community that make a recovery strong and prove that no matter the devastation, working together is the key to bouncing back and making it better than before.

These three stories in the news reflect the hard work to promote safety and collaboration of those hardest hit:

The effects of trauma, if untreated, can last a lifetime. Today, many schools are asking their counselors or nurses to become trained in psychological first aid (PFA) in order to be ready to assist the affected after a traumatic event. Visit the National Child Traumatic Stress Network for more information: http://www.nctsn.org/content/psychological-first-aid-schoolspfa

Until a few years ago, very few ever considered the phase of Recovery before an event . Today, there are many mitigation measures that include building partnerships before an event, so that they are activated during the response phase of an incident and start the Recovery process immediately. These include debris removal, gutting services and demolition, bulk trash removal, water treatment and supply management, and partnerships with energy companies across the country that are available to respond in the event of an emergency. The Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) are also activated upon an event, and work closely with the Red Cross to provide support and relief services to areas and persons affected by disaster.

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The Silver Lining to School Crime Statistics Is…

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Does an increase in incidents make your school better prepared? In June, the U.S. Dept. of Education released statistics on school crime that was collected for the 2011 -2012 school year, and administered by the Indicators of School Crime and Safety. Schools continue to face rates of crime that, especially in urban schools where it is most prevalent, are costing more than the school’s safety record: For some, it’s a daily struggle to manage the behavioral challenges, protect the students, and foster a high-quality learning environment. The report focuses on the topics of victimization, bullying, school conditions, fights, weapons, security staff, and perceptions of personal safety on school grounds. If you are interested in how your school measures up, here are a few statistics to look at:

  • In 2011, students ages 12–18 were victims of about 1,246,000 nonfatal victimizations at school, including 648,600 thefts and 597,500 violent victimizations
  • In 2011, 10% of male students in grades 9–12 reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property in the past year, compared to 5% of female students.
  • In 2011, about 28% of 12- to 18-year-old students reported having been bullied at school during the school year and 9% reported having been cyber-bullied.
  • 77% of students reported observing the use of one or more security cameras at their schools in 2011, which represented an increase from 70% in 2009.
  • In 2011, 5% of students in grades 9–12 reported having access to a gun without adult permission.
  • During the 2009–10 school year, 43% of schools reported the presence of one or more security staff at their school at least once a week.

School Crime

How is this linked to emergencies? According to Pediatrics, by responding to disruption and crime, especially in urban/suburban areas, school administrations are developing better protection protocol for their students and are better prepared for disasters as a direct result. Bolstered relationships with local police and first responders also contribute directly to the safety and preparedness of the schools. Their likelihood to conduct lockdown and evacuation drills have increased, grant flow for implementing emergency management protocol has increased, and access control to the school is more structured with many students and faculty being required to wear ID—thus enhancing accountability. While administrators and faculty may be struggling to foster positive learning environments, their hard work is preparing the system to be protected against threats.

Tips:

  • It is important to have assigned evaluators on site to write down all incidents and observations during a drill. These will be used to improve safety function when the crisis team discusses lessons learned.
  • Carrying out a crisis team meeting after each criminal or emergency event is pivotal to recount all details amongst yourselves, and then follow-up with action plans.