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Welcome Attendees. Housekeeping Notes. Please turn cell phones and pagers off or to vibrate mode during sessions. Ringing, beeping or electronic music going off during the workshops is extremely distracting to everyone in the room.

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housekeeping notes
Housekeeping Notes
  • Please turn cell phones and pagers off or to vibrate mode during sessions. Ringing, beeping or electronic music going off during the workshops is extremely distracting to everyone in the room.
  • Evaluations: These will be given out during each session. Completed evaluations should be turned in after each session to the registration desk.
  • CEUs: To receive a CEU certificate attendees must sign out at the registration desk AND turn in their evaluation form(s).
coping with crisis top things to consider in crisis intervention and consultation
Coping with Crisis: Top things to consider in crisis intervention and consultation

Dr. Scott Poland

National Emergency Assistance Team

Crisis Coordinator Nova Southeastern University


think prevention
  • Know the leading causes of death for children and create prevention programs
  • Know the real statistics about school violence
  • Know the protective factors for children
  • Create a school safety task force and include students
theoretical orientation
Theoretical Orientation
  • Primary prevention---- activities to prevent crises
  • Secondary intervention---- short term activities to manage and minimize crisis
  • Tertiary intervention---- long term assistance for those most affected
you as a responder
You as a Responder

Getting involved in crisis intervention—my first year at middle school

Get training and keep certificates

When a crisis happens--Take a deep breath and mentally affirm your own ability to help

  • First night of Christmas vacation and tragically a 9th grade boy has just been pronounced dead at the hospital. He was the victim of a scooter accident witnessed by friends. Large numbers of his friends have gathered at the hospital and now have been told to leave the premises. What do you thing the school leaders should do?
crisis scenario
Crisis Scenario
  • Elementary students on a school bus view the body of a suicide victim
  • What do you recommend as an intervention?
  • What information should be provided for parents and what activities at school the next day?
parent permission issues
Parent Permission Issues
  • Intervention is provided for all students grades 1 to 6 who were on the bus
  • Parents sue claiming intervention was inappropriate and they had not given permission
  • Parents claim that their 1st grader now has PTSD
  • What does NASP say?
care for the caregiver
Care for the Caregiver
  • Please discuss in small groups how your school system has supported members of the crisis team.
  • Do members of the team ever burn out and is it okay to sit a crisis out?
  • What recommendations do you have for increased support in the future?
have correct information
Have Correct Information

Verify details with more than one adult and/or police. Contact the affected family.

Triple-check details with sources before taking any action or making any statements. Tell the truth.

What if you are unsure if the death was a suicide?

advising the administration in a crisis
Advising the Administration in a Crisis
  • Avoiding an underestimate
  • What if the administration does not want to tell the truth?
  • Hold your emotions example
  • Support from the top is important
  • Get involved quickly—cell phone numbers and calling tree
  • Crisis materials ready and accessible
advise the principal in this domestic violence crisis
Advise the principal in this domestic violence crisis
  • The father has murdered the entire family and taken his own life after a standoff off with local police
  • This tragedy is the number one news story in your community
  • Three elementary girls grades K, 3rd and 5th were among those killed
how to intervene
How to Intervene
  • Pep talk before school for faculty
  • Helping the teacher
  • Entering the classroom
  • What to say to students
crisis team
Crisis Team

Make decisions as a group.

Experience has found that the wisest crisis response decisions are made in a group.

  • Review crisis plan together.
  • Assign responsibilities
  • Empower crisis team members.
crisis team16
Crisis Team

Your team will be important through out the crisis and beyond.

  • Know their strengths (e.g., expertise, writing and presentation skills).

Remember to consult them often and to support them.


Communicate with all staff and stakeholders. Help the faculty first!

  • Methods to convey the facts.
  • Don’t promise that everything will be okay
  • Affirm that you will do all that’s possible to make things better.
geographical proximity
Geographical Proximity

Outside the disaster area

Within hearing distance

Near the disaster area

Direct exposure

psychosocial proximity
Psychosocial Proximity

Identification with or similarity

to victims


Near family or close friend

Immediate family

population at risk
Population at Risk


Difficult personal or social crisis

Significant loss in the past year

Recent or similar trauma

circles of vulnerability
Circles of Vulnerability

Geographical Proximity

Population at Risk

Psychosocial Proximity

tragedy on the first day of summer
Tragedy On The First Day Of Summer
  • A student who just graduated from 8th grade is killed in a drive by shooting one week into summer vacation
  • What should be the response of the school?
communication ideas
Communication Ideas

Send out an all staff e-mail with details and what to say to students.

NASP has much of this information already prepared and downloadable.

Teachable Moment Lesson Plan (Poland&Poland) www.nasponline.org


Inform parents of the situation.

Unite students with family as soon as possible.

Have sign-out procedures in place to keep records.

Utilize media to get out important messages

Meetings for parents

national tragedies
National Tragedies
  • What was it like at your school on 9/11/01?
  • What recommendations do you have for your school when the next national tragedy occurs?
  • What information should be given to students?
  • Should televisions be on in classrooms?
  • How do you support the school and community?

Use phone messages and/or e-mail to keep parents consistently apprised of details and plans.

  • Post information on the school web site
  • Utilize school television stations
  • Reopen school as soon as possible
  • Accept volunteer help but keep records of their recommendations.
midwestern suicide cluster
Midwestern Suicide Cluster
  • Six Suicides Between August and December
  • Small Group Activity: What can be done?
  • Groups Report on Postvention Strategies
considerations after a suicide
Considerations after a suicide
  • What should you say to students?
  • Who would be most at risk to imitate the suicides
  • How can prevention effort be improved?
tips for helping students
Tips for helping students

Share information in developmentally appropriate ways

No one should be lied to or misled about the circumstances. Recognize all the connections around the school system.

Students need to hear sad or tragic news from trusted adults and should be able to ask questions.

Turn off TVs and gather students in a circle and talk about the event and their perceptions, safety concerns and sources of help.

Help everyone identify previous and current sources of support


Have media policies and procedures already in place that set limits and keep media away from staff and students.

Caution staff and students about speaking with media

Designated spokesperson should prepare written statements and rehearse sound bites for television that include mental health and safety recommendations

media interview exercise
Media Interview Exercise
  • A tornado has hit your community and no one was seriously injured but many homes were destroyed.
  • Please respond to questions about how to help the affected children and families and what reactions might parents notice in children and how can parents best assist their children?
creating a caring climate
Creating a Caring Climate

Know that the crisis becomes the curriculum for a few days.

  • Provide guidance about when to resume the curriculum and when it’s okay to resume testing.
  • K-12 schools should stay open as source of support and consistent routine after tragedies
  • Provide guidance about homework and tests and certain rules/expectations may need to be relaxed
more recommendations
More Recommendations

Re-establishing routines is helpful to all.

Initial support is often high but wanes at a much faster rate than the need for support.

Resiliency---the ability to bounce back has several key factors.

follow up services
Follow Up Services

Identify and seek help for most affected students and staff.

  • Some will need more support due to past traumas and/or mental health issues.
  • Seek extra help for those struggling more than normal.
more recommendations36
More Recommendations

Don’t underestimate the long term impact of a crisis and be aware of anniversary dates.

Accept help from outside as your professionals may need help.

  • Community mental health services.
  • State crisis team.
  • NOVA and the Red Cross.
  • NASP NEAT Team

Be careful with memorials. Allow for a spectrum of cultural beliefs.

Regarding memorials…

Recognize that students often need a project or activity to channel their emotions and to make a difference…

memorials do
Memorials: Do…

Prepare for the needs of students both preceding and following memorial activities.

Inform staff about memorial activities; help them understand emotions and behaviors that students may show.

Establish assistance plans and a referral system for students in need.

Emphasize signs of recovery and hope during memorial activities.

memorials don t
Memorials: Don’t…

Require attendance by students or staff or force sharing of feelings and ideas.

Focus the memorial on the uncontrollable aspects of the crisis.

Pathologize normal grief reactions or minimize serious, atypical ones.

Assume that “one size fits all” when developing a memorial.

Schedule it at a time that doesn’t permit participants to discuss or process their experiences.

memorial scenarios your thoughts
Memorial Scenarios: Your Thoughts
  • Two granite memorials in front of the school to honor homicide victims
  • Permanently closing off and labeling lockers for deceased students
  • A memorial service on the steps of the school where the student shot himself
  • A cabinet in the counselor reception area with a plaque in memory of a suicide victim

Remember that meeting the social-emotional needs of students will affect their long-term academic success.

Remember the 60—20—20 rule!

  • Prevention programs.
  • Caring faculty.
  • School connectedness.
other key points
Other Key Points
  • Plan for when the administrators or nurse is out of the building.
  • Have emergency signals, lock down procedures, emergency kits, and be able to account for staff and students
  • Conduct CPR training for students and staff.
  • Establish relationships with local police and provide floor plans of all campus buildings.
threat assessment teams recommended by
Threat Assessment Teams Recommended by:
  • FBI
  • Secret Service
  • Colorado Governor’s Report on Columbine
recommendations as to who should be on a school threat assessment team
Recommendations as to who should be on a school threat assessment team?
  • Teacher
  • Security/police
  • Community law enforcement
  • Mental health
  • Administrator
school example
School Example
  • Mrs. Jones a parent calls transportation to report that her daughter Julie received an e-mail from Ben a student which stated he is going to shoot kids on the middle school bus tomorrow. Mrs. Jones is concerned about her daughter’s safety. What should you do as your first step? Who needs to get involved?
case example continued
Case example continued
  • The suspected perpetrator a 7th grade boy is now at school and you are about to interview him
  • What information from his background and school records might be helpful?
  • What approach might you take and what are the key questions you will ask?
  • The suspected perpetrator readily admits that he had intended to shoot everyone on the bus as he has been the victim of repeated bullying and in fact had his thumb broken by another student named John on the bus last week
  • What is your next step and how could you reduce the stressors for this student?
expectations of mental health professional

Expectations of Mental Health Professional

Can not definitively determine if a student is capable of violence but can determine risk and protective factors and should provide a written report with recommendations.

mh assessment report
MH Assessment Report
  • Identifying information
  • Referral is not for eligibility
  • Findings about student’s mental state, school and family history, how they present, stress and conflict
  • Conclusions, summary, treatment recommendations for a safety plan
suspected perpetrator
Suspected Perpetrator
  • Review school discipline records
  • History of depression,aggression or delinquency
  • Exposure to violence
  • Current stress
  • Peer relations
  • Coping mechanisms and level of support
parent interview
Parent Interview
  • Convey your interest in helping child
  • Determine parent knowledge of threat and willingness to help
  • Gather information about family dynamics/stressors, communication patterns and presence of weapons
  • Developmental history especially with regards to violence, peer relations and mental illness
Once a threat is made, having a fair , rational, and standard method of evaluating and responding is critical!
classify these threats as transient or substantive
Classify these threats as transient or substantive
  • A student tells other students after school he/she are going to get another student and on interview expresses long standing hatred for the intended victim
  • An angry student threatens to kill another student in class and when interviewed apologizes
  • 1st grader has a gun his father left in his backpack

A middle school teacher is anxious and upset as the student who threatened to kill her own child is now returning to his home campus from an alternative program.

What might help alleviate her fears?

suicide legal case
Suicide/Legal Case
  • An 8th grade boy who was disciplined for truancy goes home and kills himself
  • He leaves behind a note saying the AP is a blank and he had to many problems
  • The parents sue claming their child was denied his constitutional right to participate in an Immigration Rally. How would you defend the school district?
in conclusion
In Conclusion

Help is available.

Work as a team.

Take care of yourself.

Think prevention and preparation.

Crisis creates lasting change and an opportunity to do

things differently in the future.


  • Scott Poland’s books are available at

Sopris West www.sopriswest.com

He has a regular column on crisis for District Administration www.districtadministration.com