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School shootings are one of the common events that achieved a level of cultural symbolism and make fear within students, their relatives, and school personnel. It is not shocking that these shootings are still happening, since the source of the problem is sophisticated. School shootings promote depression and anxiety within schools and encourage the idea that schools are unsafe for many students; in this paper I will discuss the course of action in Virginia Tech and my role as a school psychologist during the crisis.
On April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech experienced a terrible and unforgettable event in the American university history. An Asian student shot and took the lives of 32 students and faculty, staff. He left behind injured individuals and people with psychological problems, and then he killed himself. Moreover, victim’s families, friends and the university community have suffered horribly.
As a school psychologist in Virginia Tech, I think it is very crucial to collect the data about the student who killed the victims in order to know more about the real causes that led him to shoot people and kill himself after. This will help to deal with students’ behavior to avoid and stop real causes before they get more complicated. The student murderer was skinny and looked younger than his age. He did not participate in class and did not want to speak. The professors reported that he was mentally ill and he asked him to seek counseling. I believed that it is important to work with students who have same symptoms like this person who needed an early diagnosis.
I believe that mental health clinics receive a big number of antisocial behaviors which is the most common disorder in our daily life. I think that early diagnosis of serious aggression that can be Conduct Disorder which begins as aggression in the early childhood and developed during adolescence and adulthood, it is very vital to know about these cases in order to help those individuals since they were diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Conduct is a disorder that refers to people who deal with specific behavioral and emotional problems during the childhood. People diagnoses with this disorder cannot focus and they have a hard time to follow rules. They are often referred as bad people or delinquent, ignoring that they mentally ill.
Course of action
Schools must be protected and safe places for children to study, however after this shooting event, a number of students and their families still feel threatened and their lives in danger by armed and dangerous classmates. As a member of school community we need to discuss our plan and how to deal with current students, families, professors and the other members who experienced the incident and help them to overcome and continue benefit from school. I believe that it is very interesting to work with survived students to trust us and discuss our plans to offer a safe place to learn. As school staff, we need to “work with parents and public safety providers (local police and fire departments, emergency responders, hospitals, etc.)” (National Association of School Psychologists, 2006) The school community needs also to enhance, and renew the school procedures to keep school building safe. Work with students to be able to discuss and talk aloud if something happened that makes them feel uncomfortable, worried or scared. Teach the students that everybody play a big role to maintain the school safety. School community needs also to offer “crisis training and professional development for all staff based upon needs assessment”. (NASP, 2006)
Anger and violence are progressively more significant issues to school psychologists and other professionals today. Those educators faced the effects of learning problems and social adjustment issues. It is very significant to provide monthly workshops for all students to identify their feelings and help them to know how to manage their feelings of anger, especially if they are taking drugs or having mental illness will be helpful. It is very important to teach and make students stay away from drugs and alcohol. Added to this, being away from guns and other weapons will be helpful as well. Teach students in early age that violence is not a solution to handle problems. Therefore, provide counseling sessions to all students, especially those who are struggling with anxiety, depression, or other emotional concerns that they cannot handle.
William Pollack, a Harvard Medical School psychologist, stated in the incident of the Columbine shooters “needed help, and what they got day after day was no one noticing. They were left alone. Adolescents, even though they say they want to be alone…they really want some kind of connection with an adult who understands and cares.” (USA today, 2009) As a school staff, we need to work on our safety programs as well. We will need to lock doors, provide security cameras and call systems. We need to encourage and build up the respect between staff and students, students and students. Respect the students’ potential and performance is very vital also. The interaction between counselors or professors and students is very important to be able to recognize students’ feelings and alert any serious emotional issues or mental health problems.
“Check and connect” is a good strategy to provide to school staffs in the workshops. In this approach, every day, one professor or more should talk about a specific student’s case.
As the initial responsibility we have as school staff, we should help people experience the event in an appropriate context. We need to provide counseling and psychological treatments and we have to work with them to be able to continue their studies and help them to achieve their goals as they came for the first time and may be better. We have to work with those people who were in the event on the traumatic that may happened and they will think about all the time. We need to be able to help them to forget it and start a new personal and educational safe life.
It is obvious that people who commit this kind of things and shooting usually have mental disorders such as severe depression or other emotional problems. Those individuals usually feel unwanted and badly treated by others, they are dissatisfied in their academic performance and goals, and therefore they go for suicide and shooting in order to do revenge. Moreover, these students always prepared for their plans previously and they talked about their purposes in advance. Hopefully, we will have time to know about their plans and help them recognize their feelings to be able to intervene early. That is why I believe that we need to build up confidence and communication with students and promote them to ask for help whenever they feel that they need it.
As people working in schools, the event is hard to experience, but we may be able to better control the school and in preventing more shootings. Moreover, students who are under medications for anxiety, depression or other concerns and are currently in university, they need to be in contact with their doctor, therapist as well as their family. It may be also appropriate for students who have faced a prior traumatic event as well.
I believed that school shooting is one of the biggest issues that need more than a single solution; poor parenting and early identification are big terms to think about dealing with such incidents. Most shootings in schools occurred primarily because of revenge against society.
Specific people such as parents, friends, and roommates know how to help professionals to diminish specific psychological outcomes of a traumatic incident by using observation as a method to watch students who are at greater jeopardy and assist directly. Awareness of the issues that can lead to cruel psychological distress may assist adults to differentiate those students who need mental health assistance.
As school community, we should plan cooperatively to invent a safety within schools to decrease violence by utilizing various approaches in order to meet each school’s needs. For an effective result, it is helpful to include the following components such as making “school-community safety partnerships, establishing comprehensive school crisis response plans” (NASP, 2006) As a course of action, schools should adopted new laws and strategies to cope with this new style of showing such brutal aggression in instructional establishments, such as forbidding violent behaviors by issuing a disciplinary rules and punishments against individuals who are attempting to be involved in aggressive behaviors in schools settings. Besides, schools need also to offer a proper and effective counseling therapy for people who still under the shock of a shooting incident and help them to overcome the crisis time. As far as community is concerned, it should be a priority to protect students who experience aggressive events and make them regain confidence to pursue their academic and emotional life. Improving classroom environment is also presented in our school plan by endorsing such a positive school discipline “School climate is a relatively enduring quality of the entire school that is experienced by members, describes their collective perceptions of routine behavior, and affects their attitudes and behavior in the school” (Camilla &Sandra, 2007). Our program fights racism and intolerance and implements strategies to accept people from different cultures; in school program, the community promotes consultation, appropriate social skills, rising security in schools, and use disciplinary method to punish individuals who did not respect the school policy. Utilizing prevention programs for all students is one of the vital strategies we have in our program like talking about the federal law. Basically, we also implement some specific interventions in order to support students’ positive emotional development and educate them to utilize non-violent methods to decipher their personal concerns. Support students who show early signs of violation behaviors at schools and encouraging peer relationship by utilizing communication and mediation programs to resolve conflicts.
School-based mental health services are very wanted recently. As school community, collaborating with parents and policy makers we should scrutinize issues that can account for events in which a massacre happened in the establishment setting in order to assist students to accomplish their aims in schools and help them to identify their personal and social issues.
During the crisis, as member of school community, we were looking for manners in order to stop these events to re-happen. School Psychologists national association (NASP) team stated that, “Crisis has been frequently recognized as a time of potential danger as well as potential opportunity.â€¦ If our profession is able to manage the danger that is, manage the immediate crisis and quickly return the system to normal functioning then there exists a tremendous opportunity to stimulate long-term systemic change. Once seen as effective and credible, the psychologist has infinitely more opportunity to move the system in the direction of prevention” (Kathy, 2008).
School psychologists can be a terrific source to the institutional community in the improvement of efficient mental health services to discuss students and families’ needs. It is also fundamental that school psychologists become very important and positive individuals in endorsing their task as mental health service providers and programs in schools.
My role as a school psychologist
As a school psychologist, I need to be able to identify student in need for extra help and aid in recognizing proper referral sources in the community. I would also use the psychological triage as a technique to establish the crisis intervention cure. The use of this approach is particularly significant when the psychological trauma victim surpasses the number of available people who can intervene.
According to National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), there are various things that we can do as people working in schools that may insure that schools are secure places for students and enhance the comfort level of individuals such as inform parents by the school safety policies and calamity avoidance efforts. As a school psychologist, I need to be active within schools, communicate with students and their parents. I need also to visit classrooms frequently. Work on students’ behavior and help school community to teach students the appropriate and expected behaviors, provide interventions and supports. Talk and make a link with community colleagues to evaluate emergency response plans and discuss the needs that may be noticeable to the current crisis. “Highlight violence prevention programs and curriculum currently being taught in schools and emphasize the efforts of the school to teach students alternatives to violence including peaceful conflict resolution and positive interpersonal relationship skills. Cite specific examples such as Second Step Violence Prevention, bully proofing, or other positive interventions and behavioral supports” (NASP, 2006).
My role as school psychologist as well is to prevent those individuals who homicide others and suicide. An article by NASP stated that society needs to ease closer relations as a replacement of watching television and using computers in the rest of the evenings, visit friends, classmates, and neighbors, walk you dog or go for picnic will help to stop murders to realize their plans and crimes. As a course of action, we should work on the relationship between students, their professors, and other school workers (NASP, 2006)
My role as a school psychologist also is to examine the psychological disorders of students who appeared to be at risk such as those individuals who may have post traumatic stress syndrome, depression, Schizophrenia, and other mental health problems. It is very significant to early diagnosis those people with the previous disorders in order to be able to intervene and help them to live normal people and act responsively.
My job as a member of the community is to be aware of some people who refuse to talk about their experience in the past and hide their traumatic events. In this point, I need to be able to help survivors of this horrible crisis to talk about it and assist them to be able to identify and discuss their feelings from it. I need to be able to aid those people by using psychotherapy sessions and advanced techniques. As a school psychologist, I can be trusted to help with delicate personal and family situations that interfere with schooling. I can also help prevent future problems when I intervene with learning problems early on, and I can also recognize that changes in the school environment and at home can improve the quality of life for children and their families. For most victims, cognitive-behavioral therapy is the best treatment that I can use in order to change distorted and possibly harmful perceptions of post-traumatic stress, severe anxiety, depression, pleasant mental imagery, and relaxation techniques. Other counseling and therapy techniques may help those people achieve a good perceptive of the illness and the factors that protect against it. There are also stress inoculation training and visualization techniques that can be used as treatment to help those victims in our school setting. All these treatments need to be taught to survivors in order to practice it on their own. I need also to share with them my feelings, experience, and signs to help decreasing feelings of fear and helplessness.
In terms of intervention, as a school psychologist I should work and consult with teachers in order to choose, implement, and evaluate interventions that best work for the different needs of different students. As expert I need to be able to teach students, teachers, parents, and other professionals’ problem-solving strategies to address issues related to students’ academic, behavioral, and psychological problems after the incident. I need also to be able to assist teachers, parents, and other professionals use data-based decision making to improve student and systemic outcomes. Besides, I have to help teachers understand the unique needs of students, especially those diagnosis with mental health problems. It is very important to consult with those individuals’ doctors and counselor as well in order to keep in truck, know more about their current situations, and help them to release their pains. NASP promotes that “school psychologists to take a leadership role in developing comprehensive approaches to violence reduction and crisis response in schools” (NASP, 2006). Since school psychologists are capable to involve in the whole school personals in enhancing and applying positive behavioral interventions that support social-emotional development of students. School psychologists are also important members who are skilled by using and implementing different intervention strategies that may decrease violent behaviors within school settings and with different students. As a school psychologist, I can discuss with other school members the implementation of social skills activities and other techniques used in order to educate students how to solve their personal issues. My other role is to offer consultation process to promote schools form calamity planning teams. As part of the evaluation program, I need to reduce aggression activities among students and help those who were presenting during the incident physically, psychologically, and social seclusion. As far as my role, I will help school to response to this emergency case. As a school psychology, my role also is to be well aware of the advantage of the early intervention and prevention efforts.
“Traditional crisis caregivers include emergency response professionals, mental health providers, medical professionals, victim assistance counselors, and faith leaders” (NASP, 2003) those professionals are all well skilled to handle different cases and to help sufferers to manage their life and handle their problems. Teachers and administrators are the most people who interact with our students; however some of them did not get any training to offer mental health services and intervention. As a school psychologist, I think that will be very helpful to provide trainings and help those professionals to be able to intervene.
These roles of school psychologists are very vital elements as plans of school safety. To guarantee that school psychologists are well trained to offer leadership in school violence prevention. NASP helped school psychologists to get the necessary comprehension and skills to apply aggression prevention and the crisis in schools during their programs and through their life experiences.
Very serious violent problems occur in school settings and have sophisticated causes, unknown sources and valuable consequences. Besides, fights, sexual harassment, and bullying that occur every day in all school establishments in the world. We started to experience shootings people at schools and suicide. These affected the schools environments, safety, and made many students, relatives and school staffs to undergo horribly. Thus, the efforts to decrease aggression at school settings need to be multi-faceted.
School settings are trusted to protect children and keep them secure during the school day. Teachers, principals, and all school staff do big efforts to keep students safe and away from any danger. Many students trust schools and they feel happy and comfort in the school staffs who save them from harms and protect them. There are various cases and huge number of shoots and suicide in school settings, therefore schools and professionals community need to prepared in order to have a minimum damages and handle crises, in order to keep students and staff out of harm and able to learn and teach.
In my opinion, I think that a successful and effective program will guarantee the safety of all students and school staff. It is crucial to create programs that lead to stop and reduce aggression and responding rapidly and efficiently whenever violence happens. Aggression decrease plans have to also affect on all student approaches to violence, educate them and school workers to be able to solve their skills in an effective away, and help the school to make an environment that encourages acceptance and tolerance between students and staff.
School safety programs are very efficient when we involved other groups of violence prevention efforts such as “local law enforcement, juvenile probation, public health personnel, and other parent and community groups” (NASP, 2006) This will help to reduce aggression and anger among students in order to ensure life of all children and youth and improved their performance to achieve their goal. I believe that all families, friends, and school staff have the responsibility in this massacre, by ignoring the murder mental health history and let him lived in the campus as a normal student. The safety group of the campus has also a big responsibility and failed to intervene in the appropriate time to stop the killing show was happening. The uncontrolled guns are big issues as well that led to kill those innocent students easily. All school psychologists have the responsibility to give hands to educational institutions and involve in the methodical group structure and problem solving process. They have the responsibility to analysis the data and identify students’ problems. All these plans should be discussed in objective data of school databases.
Typically my role as a school psychologist is that I cannot make diagnosis, but I can provide data by using various number of assessments tools like doing observations, interviews, and consulting with parents and other professionals. There are very big numbers of interventions that can be used by school psychologists to assist those individuals in order to comprehend their goals and try be able to deal with it.
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