“We have a world where we’re seeing an increase in school violence and an increase in suicide. We cannot dismiss those things as secondary problems. Those are primary problems.”
When we think of problems within our schools at the top of the list are school violence and suicide. As Co-founder of Character Strong and author of the book Deep Kindness Houston Kraft points out that these two entities are ones that are unfortunately increasing and are of primary concern. As an educator it is something that is constantly weighing on my mind. In both cases we are not as in control of things as we hope we can be because of the outside world. However once the children are within our four walls we do have that control.
In our school we have promise to our students and they in return have a promise to us: “Our job is to keep you safe and your job is to help keep it safe.” We try to create a safe, supportive school climate and encourage students to take responsibility for their part in maintaining safe school environments. We developed crisis plans and provide preparedness training to all staff members, have threat-assessment and risk-assessment procedures and teams for conducting the assessments. These are just some of the many policies and procedures we have in place. It is not perfect but it is something that allows us to protect the ones we love the most: our staff and the students within the school.
When it comes to suicide prevention we have threat assessment protocols in place and trying to do the following as each new situation arises:
- Remain calm.
- Ask the child directly if he or she is thinking about suicide (e.g., “Are you thinking of suicide?”).
- Focus on our concern for their well-being and avoid being accusatory.
- Reassure them that there is help and they will not feel like this forever.
- Do not judge.
Most importantly we must get them the help that they need through the Mobile Crisis Team. It is a true team effort.
We must remember that sometimes the challenges of the world around us are in fact in our own backyard here at school. We must do our part to ensure that they each have a fighting chance to be the difference maker we all know they are destined to be.
What does this quote mean to you and how can you apply today’s message towards becoming more socially aware?