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  2. 2. TABLE OF CONTENTS Title Page(s) I. Introduction 2 II. Flow Charts to Address a Crisis on Campus 3-4 • BISD Crisis Response Team 5-9 • Proposed Crisis Team Members 10-12 • Roles and Procedures 13-16 • After the Crisis 17 • Debriefing 18-19 • Common Reactions to a Crisis 20-26 • Helping a Student After a Disaster 27-30 • Activities for Children to Do 31-33 III. Stages of Grief 34-50 • Red Flags/Additional Suggestions 51-55 • Sample Letter to Staff 56-57 IV. Suicide Intervention Procedures 58-62 • Suicide Prevention Plan 63-64 • Screening for Level of Suicidal Risk 65-70 • Student Safety Plan 71-76 V. Child Abuse and Neglect 77-84 VI. Resources 85-86 • Mental Health Referral Agencies 87 • References 88 3
  3. 3. INTRODUCTION The Crisis Response Procedure Manual was developed to be used as a resource when responding to a crisis at a school campus. The purpose of this manual is to assist the Crisis Response Team (CRT) members, school staff, and others to establish a network and guidelines for dealing with the shock, grief, and healing process that follows a crisis. School crisis has been defined as a traumatic event that impacts a school. Such occurrences have a powerful tendency to ripple across the district, so the need for a district-wide plan is critical. The purpose of the Crisis Response Team is to: (a) assist the students and school staff coping with painful emotions and feelings resulting from a trauma- related event; (b) assist the school in returning to the normal educational process after being impacted by a traumatic event. "BISD does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age or disability in employment or provision of services, programs or activities." 2
  4. 4. FLOW CHART TO ADDRESS A CRISIS ON CAMPUS Principal is notified of the crisis and verifies that there is a crisis. Plan A: Crisis management is done by the campus staff. Principal notifies Area Superintendent and notifies the Campus Crisis Response Team. Principal designates an assistant principal or staff member to assist with the logistics of addressing crisis response issues. This person will work closely with the Campus Response Team Chairperson (pgs.10-11). Principal determines the method of notifying faculty and staff (pg.12) and prepares statement which teachers may read to their classes (samples on pgs. 86-87). After the crisis has been handled, the principal makes sure a debriefing is held for the faculty and staff to bring closure to the crisis (pgs. 17-18) 3
  5. 5. FLOW CHART TO ADRESS A CRISIS ON CAMPUS Principal is notified of the crisis and Plan B: verifies that there is a crisis. Crisis management is done with the assistance of the Principal notifies Area Superintendent and may District’s Crisis Response Team notify/request assistance from the following, if needed: Health Services Guidance & Counseling Administrator for Administrator to Public Information Administrator to Security to handle all coordinate health Officer to handle all coordinate Counseling Law Enforcement related issues media issues Crisis Response Team(s) safety measures 548-8191 548-8000 548-8251 548-8378 Principal designates an assistant principal or staff member to assist with the logistics of addressing crisis response issues. This person will work closely with the Guidance & Counseling Administrator (pg. 10-11). Principal determines method of notifying faculty & staff (pg.12) and prepares statement which teachers may read to their class (samples on pages 86-87). After the crisis has been handled, principal makes sure a debriefing is held for the faculty and staff to bring closure on the crisis (pg.17-18) 4
  6. 6. BISD CRISIS RESPONSE TEAM MEMBERS Hanna Cluster Contact Person George Saavedra, Administrator for Guidance & Counseling Work 548-8251 DINORAH Laura Treviño Delia Abrego Work: 548-8537 Work: 698-1885 Home: 546-1552 Cell: 459-3347 Janie Perez Work: 698-1523 DAHLIA Home: 546-7484 Cell: 466-4889 Elva Compean Work: 698-1903 Pilar Janis Home: Work: 698-0139 Home: 541-4518 Miguel Espinoza Sp. Ed. Cell: 755-9896 Work: 698-1185 Cell: Frank Treviño Work: 698-053 Pat Genuchi Sp. Ed, Home: 544-5253 Work: 698-1199 Cell: 233-999 Cell: 459-9481 Cell: 433-9990 Ninfa Middleton Sp. Ed. GENEVA Work; 698-1197 Sandra Ruiz Work: 698-0553 Home: 504-2812 Cell: 459-1960 Bobette Williams Work: 698-2014 Home: 350-3107 Cell: 466-6613 Sharon Williams Work: 548-8194 Home: 542-6981 BISD CRISIS RESPONSE TEAM MEMBERS 5
  7. 7. Rivera High School Contact Person George Saavedra, Administrator for Guidance & Counseling Work 548-8251 DINORAH Cindy Davila Lynn Black Work: 698-0314 Work: 554-2837 Home: Home: 542-4960 Cell: 371-4482 Pilar Janis Work: 698-0139 Nidia Martinez Home: 541-4518 Work: 698-0634 Cell: 755-9896 Home: 554-9702 Judy Zepeda Work: 832-6311 DAHLIA Home: 698-0634 Cell: 572-4433 Marima Hernandez Sp. Ed. Work: 698-1185 Susan Zapata Home: Work: 698-0138 Cell: 371-3408 Steve Grant Sp. Ed. Work: 831-8700 GENEVA Miguel Espinoza Sp. Ed. Work: 698-1195 Linda Rodriguez Work: 698-1342 Home: 504-0586 Cell: 698-9110 Dan Van Coppenolle Work: 554-2888 Home: 831-0127 BISD CRISIS RESPONSE TEAM MEMBERS Lopez High School Contact Person 6
  8. 8. George Saavedra, Administrator for Guidance & Counseling Work 548-8251 DINORAH Alicia Roberts Carol Booker Work: 982-7427 Work: 698-0898 Home: 544-0694 Home: 233-9235 Cell 698-2336 Cell: 371-2819 Bea Moyar Dora Ridley Work: 698-0590 Work: 698-1458 Cell 459-3533 Home 350-3788 DAHLIA Emilia Villarreal Susana Zapata Work: 982-3005 Work; 698-0138 Home: 546-3043 Cell: 371-3408 Nora Johnson Miguel Espinoza Sp. Ed. Work: 698-3005 698-1195 GENEVA Steve Grant Sp. Ed. Work: 831-8700 Pilar Janis Work: 698-0139 Home:541-4518 Pat Genuchi Sp. Ed. Cell: 755-9896 Work: 698-1199 Cell:459-9481 Sharon Williams Work: 548-8194 Home: 542-6981 Marima Hernandez Sp. Ed. Work: 698-1185 Mark Maddy Work: 698-1837 Home: 546-5226 BISD CRISIS TEAM MEMBERS Pace High School Contact Person George Saavedra, Administrator for Guidance & Counseling Work 548-8251 7
  9. 9. DINORAH DAHLIA Corinne Mascola Susan Zapata Work: 698-0749 Work: 698-0138 Home: 350-5719 Cell: 371-3408 Michelle Davis Steve Grant Sp. Ed. Work: 698-1156 Work: 831-8700 Home: 350-6588 Aida Schnabl Pat Genuchi Sp. Ed. Work: 698-2311 Work:698-1199 Cell: 371-0776 Cell: 459-9481 Pilar Janis Marima Hernandez Sp. Ed. Work: 698-0139 Work: 698-1185 Home: 541-4518 Cell: 755-9896 Ninfa Middelton Sp Ed. 698-1197 GENEVA Pat Cisneros Work: 698-0786 Home: 546-7967 Sonia Padilla Work: 698-1117 Home:541-8720 Lynn Medrano Work: 698-1954 Home: 541-8910 Cell: 346-1640 Sharon Williams Work: 548-8194 Home: 542-6981 BISD CRISIS TEAM MEMBERS Porter High School Contact Person Vacant, Administrator For Guidance & Counseling Home Work 548-8251 8
  10. 10. Dinorah DINORAH DAHLIA Larry Garza Susan Zapata Work: 548-7819 Work: 698-1199 Home: 546-6664 Cell: 371-3408 Eliza Bellamy Pat Genuchi Sp. Ed. Work: 698-0498 Work: 698-1199 Home: 546-7027 Cell: 698-1197 Cell: 459-7086 Sharon Williams Sofia Balderas Work: 548-8194 Work:554-2819 Home: 542-6981 Home: 546-9962 Rick Ortiz Work: 574—5535 Home: 541-1994 GENEVA Eva Guerrero Work: 698-0813 Cell: 490-3879 Minerva Fuentes Work: 982-2929 Home: 546-7027 Cell: 343-6797 Richard Montalvo Work : 698-0453 Home: 546-2015/546-6969 PROPOSED CRISIS TEAM MEMBERS In the eyes of the community, the principal is in charge of the school. Many decisions that are made in response to a crisis cannot be delegated. Very often the principal is the one person the community holds responsible for action taken or not taken. However, this does not mean the principal works in isolation; because every school has many on its staff possessing expertise in various fields. It is important to utilize key people from the campus to serve on the Crisis Response Team in order to ensure that all aspects of the school environment will be addressed. 9
  11. 11. Each campus is responsible for creating an in-house team. This team is created to assess the situations to determine if the individual school can handle the crisis or if they need assistance from cluster schools. If assistance is needed, a crisis team will report to a campus at the request and approval of the campus principal. Who should be included on the Crisis Response Team? The strength of a school’s crisis plan lies in the selection of members to serve on the crisis team. It is important that the CRT members possess certain qualities that will enhance the effectiveness of the team. Some of these qualities include, but are not limited to: * A broad perspective on life * A willingness to work toward a solution * An ability to think clearly under stress * Flexibility * A familiarity with the school, the student body, and the community Suggested Members: Principal - This person is responsible for all decisions and actions taken and is familiar with District policies. Principal’s Assistant or Designee - This person takes over in the absence of the principal. Instructional Facilitator/Dean of Instruction - This individual is in an administrative role and is familiar with the faculty and staff. Special Assignment Person - Any supportive campus person designated by the principal and who has access to community resources. Counselors - These individuals are trained to deal with reactions to crisis, grief, and group dynamics. Faculty Member - This individual should have the respect of co-workers and students and should be comfortable talking about death and crisis in extreme situations. Custodian - This individual is assigned to open or close classrooms/gates and assist with other custodial/maintenance duties that may arise during a crisis. BISD Police Officer - This individual assists with crowd control, monitoring halls, campus entrances/exits and any other law enforcement duties assigned by the principal/ BISD Chief of Police. This officer also acts as a liaison between the school and other law enforcement officers in the community. 10
  12. 12. Receptionist/School Secretary - This individual is instrumental in screening campus telephone calls as instructed by the school principal or designee. School Nurse - This individual can provide information and expertise about the physical symptoms of shock and/or physical reactions to grief. The nurse can also be instrumental in recommending the logistics for the care and removal of injured students to area hospitals, should a crisis require medical attention. * It is highly recommended that substitutes for key members be identified in case of an absence. EACH CRT HAS A DESIGNATED CHAIRPERSON WHO WILL ASSIST IN COORDINATING AND CONTACTING TEAM MEMBERS. Telephone Tree An accurate and up to date list of CRT members with their home and work numbers must be kept easily accessible to the principal and/or his designee. This will facilitate CRT members to efficiently respond to the crisis. A calling tree for contacting faculty and staff should be formulated. Each member of the CRT should have an updated list with names and telephone numbers for the team. The team leader should also be identified. It is suggested that the telephone tree or crisis team notification list be reduced, made into a wallet-sized card, and laminated to ensure accessibility. 11
  13. 13. CRISIS RESPONSE TEAM COUNSELOR RECORDS OF STUDENT CONTACT CAMPUS: ________________________ NAME OF STUDENT: ______________________________ S.S.# ____________ DATE AND TIME OF CONTACT WITH STUDENT: ________________________ OTHERS NOTIFIED : ___________________________________________________ COMMENTS: (Brief summary of counselor-student session; referral, if offered; recommendations; other information, as necessary) ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ Recommended Follow up: _________ yes ________ no Forward this report to (Student’s Counselor Name): _____________________________ ______________________ __________________ CRT Counselor’s Signature Date 12
  14. 14. Roles and Procedures Principal: Principal is notified of the crisis and verifies that there is a crisis. 1. Principal notifies Area Administrator. At the discretion of the principal, the following may be notified/request their assistance. A. Director of School Nurses - will coordinate all health related issues. B. Administrator for Guidance and Counseling - will coordinate BISD Crisis Response Teams, counseling procedures, and facilities. C. Public Information Officer - will handle all media issues. D. Administrator for Security will handle all law enforcement information and safety measures, if needed. 2. Principal starts the telephone tree to alert the CRT if the crisis occurs after school hours or on the weekend. If the crisis occurs during the instructional day, the principal may consider having an emergency staff meeting. The faculty can then be personally informed of the crisis. This approach provides the greatest support, and it most effectively reduces rumors. 3. Principal prepares method of notifying and meeting with faculty and staff as soon as possible. If this is not possible, the principal should prepare a written statement which teachers will read to their class(es). Having this official message announced over the Public Announcement System (PA) is discouraged. 4. To avoid confusion and ensure consistency, the principal or designee needs to inform all faculty and staff members of the importance to what pertains to the media and to the administrator. 5. Principal should check frequently with CRT members to ensure that all needs are being met. 6. Ensures that media staff does not go near the area where students/staff are being counseled. Principal’s Designee: 13
  15. 15. 1. Assists principal by contacting campus CRT members if the crisis occurs after school hours or on the weekend. 2. Checks with the custodians/security guards to make sure that rooms and gates are opened or closed, depending on the need. 3. Assigns a staff person to log visitors in and out. This is a very important function and must be done efficiently. 4. Designates rooms that will be used for the following purpose: counseling, assess the situation of CRT members debriefing and formulating strategies for continuing services. 5. Makes arrangements, as needed, to ensure that faculty and staff can attend memorial funeral services, and/or meetings addressing the crisis. 6. Performs other tasks assigned by the principal. Crisis Team Chairperson: 1. Checks with the principal that a statement concerning the incident has been written. Sample formats are available on pages 56 and 57. 2. Directs CRT members to refer all media questions to avoid confusion and ensure consistency. 3. Reminds CRT members of the need for confidentiality. 4. Has clip-on badges available for all team members so they can be easily identified. Badges will be uniform throughout the District and provided by the Department of Guidance and Counseling. 5. If needed, requests school floor plans/guides to classrooms. 6. Requests that rooms be designated and opened for counseling. 7. Formulates procedure for students needing counseling. Both group and individual counseling will be provided as needed. 8. Assesses special cases as needed (hysteria, physical malaise, etc.). 9. Directs CRT to keep record of student contacts. These forms are to be passed on to student’s campus counselor. 14
  16. 16. 10. In case of the death of a student, assign a person to follow the student’s schedule and spend time in the classroom, clean out locker, personal effects, etc. Consideration should be given in case of students sharing lockers. 11. Identifies students and personnel most affected by the crisis and assign them to a CRT member. 12. Determines need for home visit and assigns CRT members to go to the student’s home and talk with parents who may have needs with which the school can be helpful. (i. e., emotional support, etc.) 13. Makes sure that a detailed debriefing is held after the crisis for CRT members. 14. Arranges for a central location where CRT members can meet to assess the situation, rest, debrief, and formulate strategies for continuing services, as needed. 15. Checks frequently with CRT members to ensure that all needs are being met. Special Assignment Persons - Home visitor/staff member, parent liaison (not a parent). 1. Assists the receptionist/school secretary with answering parent phone calls. A general statement should be available for this person to give the parents if they call the school. 2. Assists with contacting community resources if needed. Counselor(s): 1. Identifies and counsels with students and personnel most closely affected by the crisis. 2. Keeps accurate log of students and staff counseled. . 3. Works closely with administration in making necessary arrangements to address crisis management. Designated Faculty Member: Be the liaison between administration and faculty and provide collegial support and assistance for teaching staff. Will provide student assistance, if needed. 15
  17. 17. Custodian: Makes sure classroom doors and gates are opened or closed, as needed. Security: Monitors entrance and exists, screens school visitors during the crisis management timeline. School Nurse: Assesses special cases and serves as the contact for community services, as needed. 16
  18. 18. AFTER THE CRISIS Principal: Makes sure that a detailed debriefing is held after the crisis for the CRT, faculty, and staff in order to provide closure on the crisis. CRT Team Chairperson: Continues to monitor student reaction to the crisis and makes referrals and/or recommendations as needed to appropriate staff members. BISD Cluster Crisis Response Team Assistance If a principal requests the assistance of the Cluster Crisis Response Team, the Guidance and Counseling Administrator will be responsible for: A. Contacting the Cluster Response Team Members. B. Arranging with the campus principal a location where the Cluster Team can meet and be briefed on the crisis. C. Formulating a plan to provide counseling services to students and staff without the interruption of the media staff. D. Providing a debriefing session after the crisis for the Cluster Team and formulating strategies for continuing services, as needed. 17
  19. 19. DEBRIEFING DEBRIEFING WITH THE FACULTY: Within three days of the crisis, the principal will set aside time for the faculty and staff to have a debriefing. Attendance at this process is voluntary and facilitated by the campus counselor and the principal. The Crisis Response Team should be encouraged to attend. Discuss individual’s reactions to the crisis and ask for suggestions for improvement in handling future crises. Allow each participant in the debriefing to share. (Size of group should be 10 or less, otherwise sharing will be incomplete). The meeting should take about thirty minutes and will help to bring closure to the campus- wide incident. DEBRIEFING THE CRISIS RESPONSE TEAM (CRT): The principal, the CRT members, and anyone else who was integrally involved with the crisis activities need to debrief. This gives everyone the opportunity to re-evaluate the plan. Members should identify what worked well and what needs improvement or change. During the debriefing, those present should reconstruct actions taken by the team. The second phase of debriefing is to share the emotional reactions with each other. While there might be some hesitation, this process ensures emotional readiness to return to normal working conditions and to be prepared, should there be another crisis. SUGGESTED DEBRIEFING PROCEDURES A. Information: * What happened? * What role did you play? B. Idea: * What thoughts did you have when you heard about the crisis? * What thoughts have you had since the crisis? C. Emotional: * How did you react at first? * How are you reacting now? * What impact has the crisis had on you? (Expressions of feelings may occur at this stage.) D. Meaning: * What repercussions has the crisis had on you? On your life? * What symptoms are you experiencing? * How has this affected your family? School? Health? Friends? E. Educational: * How have you coped with difficulties before? 18
  20. 20. * What are you doing to cope now? * What are your strengths? * What are your difficulties? * It takes time to heal. * This is a team effort. CONCLUSION Remember that adults model appropriate behavior for students. They will learn how to express feelings and how to deal with sadness and loss. The process of allowing a class to explore their feelings of grief can be enriching, as well as a learning experience that will assist them in years to come. 19
  21. 21. COMMON REACTIONS TO A CRISIS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL I. Physical Reactions * Headaches * Complaints of visual or hearing problems * Persistent itching and scratching * Nausea * Sleep disturbances, nightmares, night terrors * Bowel/bladder irregularities II. Emotional/Behavioral Reactions * Inability to concentrate; reduction in level of school achievement * Irritability; disobedience * Aggressive behavior * Sadness over losses * Regressive reactions (clinging, whimpering, thumb sucking) * Resistance to going to school * Guilt and responsibility felt for the event and their own actions * Retells and replays the event * Is concerned about own safety and safety of others * Unexplained fears * Is afraid of feelings (flat affect) * Possessive of remaining parent, if other has died * Excessive need for adult attention III. Suggested Activities * Reassure with realistic information * Permit acting out the experience; acknowledge the normalcy of the feeling * Temporarily lessen requirements for performance * Encourage verbal expression of thoughts and feelings * Provide opportunity for structured chores and responsibilities * Encourage physical activity * Encourage activities on behalf of the injured or deceased * Refer parent/guardian for medical or psychological evaluation, if needed COMMON REACTIONS TO A CRISIS 20
  22. 22. SECONDARY SCHOOL I. Physical Reactions * Headaches * Vague complaints of pains * Bowel/bladder irregularities * Sleep disturbances * Persistent itching and scratching * Complaints of vision or hearing problems II. Emotional/Behavior Reactions * Antisocial behavior: - Aggression - Rebellion - Withdrawal - Attention seeking - Defiance * Use of drugs, sexual acting-out * Increased risk-taking * Reduction in level of school performance * Sadness, depression, anxiety * Guilt about survival * Self-conscious about fears and sadness * Hyper aggressive (males-cars, cycles) * Premature adulthood (leaves school, gets married) * Truancy * Excessive need for adult’s attention * Resistance to going to school III. Suggested Activities * Provide assurance that feelings and fears are normal * Encourage group discussion about the event * Initiate resumption of routine activities * Discuss relationships between acting out and the real event * Rehearse safety measures to be taken in case of future crisis * Encourage physical activity * Encourage taking part in home or community recovery efforts * Temporarily lessen requirements for school performance CRISIS AND CHILDREN PRESCHOOL THROUGH SECOND GRADE 21
  23. 23. SYMPTOMATIC RESPONSE FIRST AID 1. Helplessness and passivity 1. Provide support, rest, comfort, food, opportunity to play or draw 2. Generalized fear 2. Re-establish adult protective shield 3. Cognitive confusion (e.g., do not 3. Give repeated concrete clarification understand that the danger is over) for anticipated confusions 4. Difficulty identifying what is 4. Provide emotional labels for common bothering them reactions 5. Lack of verbalization-selective 5. Help to verbalize general feelings and mutism, repetitive non verbal complaints (so they will not feel alone traumatic play, unvoiced questions with their feelings) 6. Attributing magical qualities 6. Separate what happened from physical to traumatic reminders reminders (e.g., a house, monkeybars, parking lot) 7. Sleep disturbances (night terrors 7. Encourage them to let their parents and and nightmares; fears of going to teachers know sleep; fear of being alone, especially at night) 8. Anxious attachment (clinging, not 8. Provide consistent caretaking (e.g., as- wanting to be away from parent, surance of being picked up from school, worrying about when parent is knowledge of caretaker’s whereabouts) coming back, etc.) 9. Regressive symptoms (thumb 9. Tolerate regressive symptoms in a time- sucking, enuresis, regressive speech) limited manner 10. Anxieties related to incomplete 10. Give explanations about the physical understanding about death; reality of death fantasies of “fixing up” the death; expectations that a dead person will return, (e.g., ant). CRISIS AND CHILDREN THIRD THROUGH FIFTH GRADE SYMPTOMATIC RESPONSE FIRST AID 1. Preoccupation with their own 1. Help to express their secretive 22
  24. 24. actions during the event; issues imaginings about the event of responsibility and guilt 2. Specific fears, triggered by traumatic 2. Help to identify and articulate reminders or by being alone traumatic reminders and anxieties; encourage them not to generalize 3. Retelling and replaying of the event 3. Permit them to talk and act it out; (traumatic play); cognitive distortions, address distortions, and obsessive detailing acknowledge normality of feelings and reactions 4. Fear of being overwhelmed by their 4. Encourage to express fear, anger, feelings (e.g., crying, being angry) sadness, etc. in your supportive presence in order to prevent feeling overwhelmed 5. Impaired concentration and learning 5. Encourage to let their parents and teachers know when thoughts and feelings interfere with learning 6. Sleep disturbance (bad dreams, fear 6. Support them in reporting of sleeping alone) dreams; provide information about why we have bad dreams 7. Concerns about their own and others’ 7. Help to share worries; reassure safety, (e.g., worry about siblings) with realistic information 8. Altered and inconsistent behavior, (e.g., 8. Help to cope with the challenge unusually aggressive or reckless to their own impulse control behavior, inhibitions) (e.g., acknowledge, “It must be hard to feel so angry)” 9. Somatic complaints 9. Help to identify the physical sensations they felt during the event 10. Close monitoring of parent’s 10. Offer to meet with children and response and recovery; hesitation parent(s), to help children let to disturb parent with own anxieties parents know how they are feeling 11. Concern for other victims and 11. Encourage constructive activities 23
  25. 25. their families on behalf of the injured or deceased 12. Feeling disturbed, confused and 12. Help to retain positive memories frightened by their grief response as they work through the more intrusive traumatic memories 24
  26. 26. CRISIS AND CHILDREN ADOLESCENTS (SIXTH GRADE AND UP) SYMPTOMATIC RESPONSE FIRST AID 1. Detachment, shame and guilt 1. Encourage discussion of the event, (similar to an adult response) feelings about it, and realistic expectations of what could have been done 2. Self-consciousness about their 2. Help them understand the adult fears, sense of vulnerability, and nature of these feelings; other emotional response; fear encourage peer understanding of being labeled abnormal and support 3. Posttraumatic acting out behavior, 3. Help to understand the acting out (e.g., drug use, delinquent behavior, behavior as an effort to numb sexual acting out) their responses to or to voice their anger over the event 4. Life threatening reenactment; self 4. Address the impulse toward destructive or accident-prone behavior reckless behavior in the acute aftermath; link it to the challenge to impulse control associated with violence 5. Abrupt shifts in interpersonal 5. Discuss the possible strain on relationships relationships with family and peers 6. Desires and plans to take revenge 6. Elicit their actual plans of revenge; address the realistic consequences of these actions; encourage constructive alternatives that lessen the traumatic sense of helplessness 7. Radical changes in life attitudes 7. Link attitude changes to the which influence identity formation event’s impact 8. Premature entrance into adulthood 8. Encourage postponing radical (e.g., leaving school or getting married), decisions, in order to allow time 25
  27. 27. or reluctance to leave home to work through their responses to the event and to grieve 26
  28. 28. HELPING A STUDENT AFTER A DISASTER A catastrophe such as a hurricane, tornado, fire, or flood is frightening to children and adults alike. It is important to acknowledge the frightening parts of the disaster when talking with a child about it. Falsely minimizing the danger will not end a child’s concerns. Several factors affect a child’s response to a disaster. The way children see and understand their parent’s response is very important. Children are aware of their parent’s worries most of the time, but they are particularly sensitive during a crisis. Parents should admit their concerns to their children and also stress their abilities to cope with the situation. A child’s reaction also depends on how much destruction he or she sees during and after the disaster. If a friend or family member has been killed or seriously injured, or if the child’s school or home has been severely damaged, there is a greater chance that the child will experience difficulties. A child’s age affects how the child will respond to the disaster. For example, six- year-olds may show their concerns about a catastrophe by refusing to attend school, whereas adolescents may minimize their concerns but argue more with parents and show a decline in school performance. It is important to explain the event in words the child can understand. Following a disaster, people may develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is psychological damage that can result from experiencing, witnessing, or participating in an overwhelmingly traumatic (frightening) event. Children with this disorder have repeated episodes in which they re-experience the traumatic event. Children often relive the trauma through repetitive play. In young children, distressing dreams of the traumatic event may change into nightmares of monsters, of rescuing others, or of threats to self or others. PTSD rarely appears during the trauma itself. Though its symptoms can occur soon after the event, the disorder often surfaces several months or even years later. Parents should be alert to these changes: * Refusal to return to school and “clinging” behavior, shadowing the mother or father around the house; * Persistent fears related to the catastrophe (such as fears about being permanently separated from parents); * Sleep disturbances such as nightmares, screaming during sleep and bedwetting, persisting more than several days after the event; * Loss of concentration and irritability; * Behavior problems, for example, misbehaving in school or at home in ways that are not typical for the child; 27
  29. 29. * Physical complaints (stomach-aches, headaches, dizziness) for which a physical cause cannot be found; * Withdrawal from family and friends, listlessness, decreased activity, preoccupation with the events of the disaster. Professional advice or treatment for children affected by a disaster-especially those who have witnessed destruction, injury or death- can help prevent or minimize PTSD. Parents who are concerned about their children can ask their pediatrician or family doctor to refer them to a child and adolescent psychiatrist. 28
  30. 30. Developmental Stages of Children When a Death Occurs Pre-operational Stage: Preschool children (age 2-6) believe that death is temporary, reversible, and impersonal. Because they are egocentric, they assume everyone sees the world as they do. * Speak simply and truthfully about what happened. * Let them know how you feel. * Tell them crying is okay. * Do not try to protect them by using euphemisms, such as “He went away”. Concrete Operational Stage: From age seven to pre-adolescence, children see the world in terms of real objects. They are concerned with how things work. They understand that death is irreversible. * Provide a safe and caring environment. * Allow students to express their feelings. * Advise parents that they might see emotional swings in their children. * If a classmate dies, let students do something (memorial) * If a student seeks you out and wants to talk, listen with your ears, eyes, and heart. * Allow students to visit the funeral home if they want to. (Parental Decision) Formal Operational Stages: Students (ages twelve and up) are capable of thinking logically and abstractly. They understand cause and effect relationships. They are developing a sense of mortality. * Present the facts as completely as possible. * Allow students to talk about their feelings and share their grief with each other. UNDERSTANDING AND ADDRESSING THE SPECIAL NEEDS OF SPECIAL POPULATIONS 29
  31. 31. Preschool Age The child does not understand the possibility of permanent destruction. Death is impermanent and reversible. For example, the child whose pet has died may continue to act as if the dead pet is still alive. He or she may ask to feed it or look for it under the bed. Because most preschool children are not able to make a clear distinction between life and death, they see death as a deep but temporary sleep or abandonment or rejection. Ages 5 to 9 One of the major perceptions is that of death coming from an external source. Death is a bogeyman, a monster, a ghost, a skeleton, or an angel who comes to take people away. It comes from outside, and in that sense, it is not a person. Children think that by being clever and trying hard, they can escape death, just as they might escape an assailant. The majority of children think that death can be reversed or outwitted. Children in this age group also show an interest in burial as shown by “final rites” for pets. Ages 9 to 12 The majority understand that death is the end of life, that it is irreversible and that all things die eventually. Death is no longer a bogeyman, but a biological process. They may also think that dying may be painful, and they begin to fathom the idea of death as obliteration or an after life. Some will consider abstract concepts, such as death is a vast darkness. There is also serious concern with the consequences of death and what changes will be necessary as a result of death. Anger and fear are often felt and verbalized with such statements as, “It is not fair.” Adolescents Death is understood as an abstract concept. Death is supposed to be distant. At the same time that they try to set themselves apart from death, they also fear it. Because of this fear, they may try to prove themselves more powerful than death. It is a teenager’s first realization of mortality, and some are moved to test their mortality. There seems to be some “magical” thinking among adolescents that death may not be permanent, and that after their own death, they may become observers of those activities and persons left behind. 30
  32. 32. ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN TO DO * Writing an eulogy * Designing a yearbook page commemorating the deceased * Honoring the deceased by collecting memorabilia for the trophy cabinet, with permission of the family. * Writing stories about the victim or the incident * Drawing pictures of the incident * Debating controversial issues * Investigating laws governing similar incidents * Creating a sculpture * Creating a class banner in memorial * Building a fitness course, a sign for the school, or a bulletin board in memory * Discussing ways to cope with traumatic situations * Discussing the stages of grief * Conducting a mock trial if laws were broken * Starting a new school activity such as a MADD unit if a child was killed by a drunk driver * Encouraging students to keep a journal of events and of their reactions, especially in an ongoing situation * Placing a collection box in the class for notes to the family * Urging students to write the things they wish they could have said to the deceased * Practicing and composing a song in memory of the deceased * Discussing alternatives for coping with depression, if suicide is involved * Analyzing why people take drugs and suggesting ways to help abusers, if substance abuse related * Writing a reaction paper * Writing a “Where I was when it happened” report * Discussing historical precedents about issues related to crisis * Reading to the class (bibliography in the appendix) * Encouraging mutual support * Discussing and preparing children for funeral (what to expect, people’s reactions, what to do, what to say) * Directing energy to creative pursuits, physical exercise, or verbal expression when anger arises * Creating a class story relevant to the issue 31
  33. 33. IF YOU FEEL LIKE IT, THIS MIGHT BE A GOOD TIME TO WRITE A LETTER SAYING GOOD-BYE ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 32
  34. 34. WHAT ARE SOME MEMORIES YOU HAVE OF A DEAD OR DYING LOVED ONE? ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 33
  35. 35. STAGES OF GRIEF Denial/Shock * Feeling of numbness * Belief or feeling that deceased will return * Insomnia/sleeplessness * Loss of appetite * Inconsistent behavior * Bargaining with God * Persistent dreams or nightmares * Inability to concentrate * Preoccupation without being able to identify with death * Confusion Fear * Nightmares * Sleeplessness * Easily startled * Anxiety and restlessness * Verbal expressions of false bravado * Phobias * Bed Wetting Anger * Irritability * Fighting * Sarcastic remarks * Anti-social behavior * Vandalism * Refusal to comply with rules Guilt * Often masked by anger * Self-destructive behavior * Apologetic attitude * Acting out in response to praise or compliments 34
  36. 36. Typical Depression * Lethargy * Decreased attention span * Frequent crying * Unkempt in appearance * Disinterest in activities * Suicidal thoughts * Withdrawal from friends * Overeating or loss of appetite * Oversleeping or inability to sleep Masking Depression * Substance abuse * Consistent restlessness * Consistent inappropriate joking * Involvement in high-risk behaviors * Gains reputation of “party person” * Sexual promiscuity * Adoption of an (“I don’t care attitude”) Reorganization * Dreams of deceased become infrequent * Joy and laughter return * Planning for the future begins * Reinvesting in activities once dropped or forgotten 35
  37. 37. The Child’s Reaction to Death The child’s major reactions to death are fear, guilt, anger and confusion. By examining the various layers of feelings, as well as the variety of influential experiences that are a part of the child’s world following a death, the caretaker can cope better with the child’s survivor needs. Fear After Loss During Childhood: * Fear resulting from loss during childhood. * Fear of losing the other parent. * Fear of going to sleep. * Fear of being separated from a parent or sibling. * Fear of being unprotected. * Fear of sharing his or her feelings with others. * Fear of trusting. Guilt After Loss During Childhood: * “The death is a punishment to me for misbehaving.” * “I wished the other person dead.” * “I did not love my brother, sister, friend, teacher enough.” * “It is not right for me to live when my sister, friend, mother, father is dead. I should be dead instead.” Anger After Loss During Childhood: In addition to anger growing from guilt, it can grow from any of the following beliefs which may be held by the child survivor: * “I have been abandoned. Now I must cope with life on my own and with little help.” * “I am unimportant. That is why my loved one could leave me.” * “My future has been taken away from me. I don’t have anything to look forward to.” * “I have to fight forces that are bigger than I am; they are very powerful and I am inadequate.” feeling of helplessness prevails; sometimes there is also a loss of trust. Confusion Resulting from Loss during Childhood: * Confusion about God and religion. * Confusion about other’s expectations. * Confusion about perceptions and memories. * Confusion which results from depression. Helping the Child Heal 36
  38. 38. It is difficult to fully recognize the internal emotional battles of the child survivor. The observer may not realize the severity or extent of the child’s sense of loss. There are some ways in which an adult can help the child through the grieving process so that he or she can heal. Verbal Healing It helps for the caretaking adult to be aware of situations which allow for more objective discussions about death. Children’s questions deserve to be answered. The child needs to be able to vent feelings, regardless of whether or not they seem appropriate. Encourage the child to verbalize feelings and memories. Non-verbal Healing Identification with the loved one: by repeatedly engaging in the activities associated with the loved one, the child is recalling the loved one, fitting him or her into daily life, and silently asking other survivors to validate that experience. Ceremonies: The dead person may be commemorated by survivors at special times, such as a birthday celebration or sharing memories. Play: Children affirm what they know to be true, give themselves power over the event, and establish themselves as separate from the event through their play. Writing: The child is able to “talk out” his or her feelings on paper. He or she may share it or keep it private. Sometimes a story about “other people” may be written, allowing the child to reveal deeply personal feelings. Secrets and bonds: The bonding can be with a pet or an inanimate object, such as a pillow or a toy. Art: A child at any age can gain control over emotional pain. Feelings are converted into products; this is a very important response to encourage. Books: Review the book first to know what to expect. Don’t use it as a substitute for direct exchange with the child. Understanding the Special Needs of Special Education Students 37
  39. 39. The Special Education student will most often follow the same development stages of the grieving process as that of the regular education student. It is possible, however, that he or she may or may not go through all the stages, and time involved in each stage could vary considerably. Significant factors which account for this difference are as follows: * Perceptual, cognitive, and emotional deficits. * Language capabilities, both receptive and expressive. * The ability to think abstractly and/or concretely. Any traumatic experience that creates sudden change in the routine of the handicapped student is likely to influence how that student responds to that trauma. The following examples are to assist you in developing a plan of action in an attempt to reduce the stress and maximize the success of the handicapped student’s ability to deal with his or her grief following a crisis: Student’s Reaction Teacher’s Response Anger “It’s OK to be angry.” “This is what you do when you are angry and it gets you into trouble.” “This is what you can do which will NOT get you into trouble.” (Give specific examples which are age-appropriate.) Aggression Repeat techniques recommended for anger, and substitute appropriate ways to release aggression. During a crisis, manipulate the environment, rather than the student, to prevent potential student/staff injury. Listlessness Keep the routine going as smoothly as possible with or without the student’s participation. (Periodically let the student know he/she may join in when he/she is ready.) Don’t beg for participation. Be supportive and remain non-judgmental. Interject instructional material that is highly motivating to the student. The manner in which the teacher chooses to react to these behaviors may influence how the handicapped student proceeds through the grieving process. If the teacher is not aware that the inappropriate behavior demonstrations are the only means the handicapped student has learned to convey his or her grief, the teacher may choose to respond with negative consequences, which in turn, may accelerate the inappropriate behavior, possibly creating a new crisis. It is critical for the teacher to acquire the skill of rational detachment, in order 38
  40. 40. to separate the behavior from the student and provide pro-active alternatives which the student can effectively use to release anxieties brought on by the grieving process. Things to Consider: * Remember, it may get worse before it gets better. * Remain with the regular schedule as much as possible. * Be supportive. Avoid comments which appear judgmental. “It’s not so bad.” “Don’t worry about it.” Remember that the teacher’s behavior is a model to the student on how to remain in control during a crisis. If the student gets extremely loud, the teacher should decrease his or her volume. If the student moves rapidly, the teacher should move slowly. If the student gets physical, the teacher should maneuver other students out of the way. Alter the environment, considering the safety factors. Be sure that what is communicated verbally coincides with what is communicated with body language. Lastly, consider the student’s perspective. REACTIONS TO LOSS AND DEVELOPMENTAL TASKS AGE RANGE: 1-3 YEARS Question after loss: Who will take care of me now? The sense of loss is felt if contact has been regular and consistent with parent or parenting figures. ________________________________________________________________________ 39
  41. 41. DEVELOPMENTAL TASK REACTION TO LOSS Learn to trust and feel secure. There may often be a heightened sense of anxiety around separation and feelings of rejection. Young children do not separate death and abandonment from rejection. Form attachments to parenting figures. Crying may increase and sometimes be uncontrollable and without explanation. Communicate feelings and be understood. There is intense searching. The child may look everywhere for the lost parent/important person. Development of a conscious need for The child may ask for the parent, caretaking. caretaker, or nurturant parent figure often. Gain control over one’s body Sometimes there will be a delayed functions and speech. reaction to grief. There may be a honeymoon period with the new caretaker. Gain control over one’s impulses. There may sometimes be a loss of appetite. Develop a sense of self and separateness. There may be a loss of interest in playing or using one’s toys. Develop a greater sense of autonomy. There may be regressive behaviors: wetting, whining, clinging, heightened insecurity, and the need for more reassurance. Develop pride and confidence in one’s Watchfulness of the environment. ability to do the above. “What’s going to happen now?” There may be an increased need for There may be night terrors. control;power struggles may emerge. 40
  42. 42. REACTIONS TO LOSS AND DEVELOPMENTAL TASKS AGE RANGE: 3-6 YEARS Mourning and grieving are done behaviorally until age 2, followed thereafter by more direct feelings expressed verbally. ________________________________________________________________________ Question after loss: “What did I do?” Where has Mom (or Daddy) gone?” ________________________________________________________________________ DEVELOPMENTAL TASKS REACTION TO LOSS 41
  43. 43. Form attachment to parent figures. There will be verbal expression of the grieving and loss, including asking questions about the “lost parent.” Develop an acceptable identity. There may be repeated periods of prolonged crying and distress. Be curious and develop more knowledge There may be restless searching. of the environment. Develop an acceptable identity as a There may be night crying, night terrors, child with adult aspirations. sobbing. Gain better control over internal There may be increased fears, phobias. impulses. School phobias may emerge; there may be also fear of loss and fear of being alone. Develop a sense of right and wrong with The searching for the lost parent continues internal conflict. with questions. The sense of self is very fragile. There may emerge a fear of one’s own death. There may be guilt about the death, the child may want to take on the responsibility for the loss. The child now has the capacity for sadness about life without the absent parent. There may often be rage and anger toward the parent/other who is left behind, or sometimes towards the parent who died. There may be a withdrawal or pulling away from those reminiscent of the lost parent/other. The child may engage in dramatic games with 42
  44. 44. themes of death/dying. Reactions may be extreme: sadness, anger, loneliness, isolation. There may be underlying depression masked by acting out behavior. There may often be a regression to soiling and wetting. In some cases, a child may want a bottle. 43
  45. 45. REACTIONS TO LOSS AND DEVELOPMENTAL TASKS AGE RANGE: 6-12 YEARS Question: Who can you trust? Can you even trust yourself? ________________________________________________________________________ DEVELOPMENTAL TASKS REACTION TO LOSS Make an adequate separation from School phobias may emerge as well home so that one can comfortably as continued separation and anxiety. go to school and off to play with peers. Develop friends with children Chronic depression marked by outside the home. negative behaviors. Participate in activities outside Increased demands on the remaining the home. caretaker. Learn work habits that enable one to Hyper-aggression in male. work and follow directions in school and in games. Achieve successfully at school. Determined denial. Regressive behavior. From age 10 on, grief 44
  46. 46. reactions become more complicated and may be characterized with: a. prolonged periods of painful crying; b. inability to share grieving with a peer group or adults; c. increased feelings of isolation, loneliness and despair; d. daydreams about the lost significant other person; e. increased withdrawal from social relationships. There is often guilt related to a “fantasized, imagined punishment,” as well as identification with the lost person. A child who had support for an acceptable identity may turn to a pattern of identifying with the strengths of the lost parent/other. When loss is coupled with rejection by the “lost parent/other” prior to the loss, the child may turn to alternative identification figures. 45
  47. 47. REACTIONS TO LOSS AND DEVELOPMENTAL TASKS AGE RANGE: 13-18 YEARS Question: “I don’t need anybody, do I? But gosh, I need them.” ________________________________________________________________________ DEVELOPMENTAL TASKS REACTION TO LOSS Maintain and develop an adequate First and foremost remember that sense of identity. adolescence is a period of paradox. Under the best of circumstances, grieving may simply complicate this further. Many teenage girls suffer Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, commonly known as PMS, which adds to total picture of behavior by contributing weeping, depression, irritability and other symptoms of grief. Struggle to identify who one is. It’s There may be a period of mourning clearer sometimes who one is not. followed by extensive defenses against grief. Maintain and gain control over one’s Suicidal fantasies emerge. body and impulses. Sometimes these are heavily colored by guilt for “abandoning the parent/the peer.” Begin to define one’s adult sexuality Depression, running away, and adult sex role. withdrawal, acting out, aggressive behavior, and anger may all be present. Gain greater autonomy with support Often the ego is fragile; the when needed. independence from one’s family and the sense of self are weakened by the stresses around loss and grieving. Identity is ill-defined; self-concept may be distorted. In extreme cases where grief is overwhelming, there may be behaviors including hallucination, conversion disorders, emotionally-induced physical reactions and symptoms. There may be a psychotic episode followed by grieving 46
  48. 48. and sadness. Idealization of the absent parent/other with a devaluation of the parents/others left behind may occur.There may sometimes be an inability to picture a positive future, avoidance of school, inability to concentrate, lack of interest in activities. There is a postponement of grieving, often an unconscious hostility toward the lost parent/other. There may be a displacement of the anger to the other parent, peers or even “early love relationships.” Relationships with both adults and peers may be characterized by volatility, testing. The normal task of the adolescent, ie, accepting the parent for who he/she is, may be interrupted due to the loss. If there is remarriage, there may often be intense hostility toward the partner of the remaining parent. Peer relationship issues include: a. lack of trust; b. withdrawal from peers. c. alienation; d. lack of communication; e. sudden volatility, acting out behavior; f. monopolizing one peer, attempting to make this an exclusive relationship. If the peer is unwilling to provide the exclusivity desired, there may sometimes be suicidal acting out. SUGGESTIONS FOR HELPERS: 1. Remember there may be manifestations of all kinds of behaviors. 2. The child may or may not be receptive, depending upon the amount of support given 47
  49. 49. or felt prior to the loss. Encourage the child to verbalize feelings. This is very important. 3. If the early experiences have been painful, there may be an inability to trust, and the loss becomes more difficult. 4. The more identification there is with the lost parent/peer, the more guilt may be experienced. 48
  50. 50. EXAMPLE OF REACTION HELPFUL RESPONSE ________________________________________________________________________ 1-3 Years Anxiety, crying about the separation. Holding, comforting, and providing reassurance. 3-6 Years Fear of one’s own death. (Rare, since Ongoing reassurance, gentle but children communicating about death open. Reminisce openly, warmly. only feel rejection and abandonment and Death of pets offers an excellent so cannot relate the event of death opportunity. to themselves.) 6-12 Years The child may talk about reunion Ask the question: “What is it he/she with the lost parent/peer. There would want for you?” “How would may often be guilt associated with that be helpful?” the sense of loyalty to the lost parent or peer. 13-18 Years “Why did he/she do it?” “What can you tell me about this?” “I think I’ll get stoned, drunk.” “I don’t know what happened.” “It must hurt awfully bad. Sometimes people hope they can wipe out the pain with drugs, booze.” “I think I’m going to kill myself.” “Have you been thinking about hurting/killing yourself?” “Tell me about it.” “I take that statement very seriously because I want you to be safe.” “What would that solve?” “How would it make others feel?” “How would the deceased feel or think about that?” “Someone who can insure your safety needs to 49
  51. 51. know. You need to be in a safe place until you can take care of yourself again.” Listen, give a sense of caring, and make sure the child is safe and not left unattended. If in doubt, see that the child is hospitalized immediately. Take no chances. . 50
  52. 52. RED FLAGS (If any of these behaviors are observed, refer the student immediately to a counselor). * Settling affairs * Giving away personal possessions * Inquiring about the hereafter * Inquiring about legal matters relating to insurance * Eating disorders * Sleeping disorders * Extreme or inappropriate emotions * Loss of concentration, confused thinking * Running away * High anxiety level * Very heavy smoking * Verbalizations about suicide * Statements about revenge * Impatience or impulsivity * Depression, sadness * Lack of energy or restless over activity * Withdrawal from social activities * Loss of interest in hobbies, sports, job, or school * Increased risk-taking * Frequent accidents * Previous suicide attempts * Increase in substance abuse * Reporting that voices are telling them to kill themselves * Trouble with the law 51
  53. 53. Additional Suggestions for Helping Students 1. Be prepared for tears. Crying is a normal and healthy reaction, even though this can make you or some students uncomfortable. 2. Recognize that some students who are traumatized by this topic may be very quiet or seem to be in a daze. Be alert to this possibility and have someone bring these students to the counseling office. 3. Send grieving students to the counseling office. A counselor or student will be there to assist them. 4. During the day, let your students discuss this event or allow them to write about their feelings. 5. Just listening to students express their feelings and responding to the “hurt” is helpful. Supportive responses include: “I can see that you are really hurting.” “It is very hard to accept the death of someone you know well.” “I know... it just seems unbelievable.” “It really hurts.” The following types of responses are NOT helpful: “You will feel better tomorrow.” “Don’t think about it now.” “A friend of mine died when I was your age and I got over it.” “Don’t be upset.” “You shouldn’t feel that.” 52
  54. 54. HELPING A STUDENT GRIEVE AFTER A DEATH IN THE FAMILY Literature indicates that during childhood, one in every twenty children in the United States will lose a parent to death. And by age 16, one in every five children will have lost at least one parent. The following are some suggestions for helping students face such loss: 1. Remember that students can make a difference in helping students when they have problems with death, because most of them have faced the death of loved ones and other significant losses. 2. Listen and sympathize. Make sure you hear what is said (non-verbal response, facial expressions, tone of voice, etc.). 3. Maintain a sympathetic, non-shaming attitude toward the students’ responses. 4. Respond with real feelings. Be willing to share your feelings. 5. Allow the student to cry by giving permission: “Go ahead and cry; it’s all right.” Permission may be necessary, since so many strong feelings are labeled as being publicly unacceptable and some students are taught to show only a stoic face in public. 6. Remember that ignoring grief does not cause it to go away. Research has indicated a relationship between antisocial behavior in adolescence and unresolved grief over the death of a loved one. 7. Assure students that they are not responsible for the person’s death because they might have had negative feelings about him or her at some time. 8. Refer students for help when necessary. This is a tricky area because sometimes normal grief looks very much like mental illness. When a teacher sees behaviors, such as regressive changes in bowel and bladder control, persistent sleep problems, excessive aggression, hyperactivity, extended loss of concentration, extended withdrawal, continued regression into lower developmental behavior levels, wild swings in emotions or thoughts that indicate a loss of contact with reality, it is time to refer that student. 9. Recognize that grief may last over an extended period of time. When grief is openly and deeply expressed, the first six months constitute the most stressful period, with recovery beginning during the first year and occurring more conclusively by the end of the second year. 53
  55. 55. MORE SUGGESTIONS TO ASSIST STUDENTS IN DEALING WITH GRIEF GENERAL INFORMATION Most children have some experience of death at a relatively young age. Whether the experience concerns a relative, family, friend, or peer, children know about death. Furthermore, exposure to death through the media increases the chances that a child knows about death. However, knowing about death, and experiencing the sadness and loss that follows a death, are two different things. The feelings that arise following the death of someone a child knows can be confusing and overwhelming. A child may feel unsafe since the world has become unpredictable. This can be compounded when it is a group experience of loss. Most children come to understand death as an absence of regular life functions. A person who has died does not eat, sleep, feel, think, etc... Further, questions from children about death may shock us. Children may ask blunt questions such as: “Will I die, too?” “Why do people die?” “Can I get sick, too?” These questions relate to children’s fear that they will be separated from the ones they love with whom they feel secure. The child who asks such questions needs reassurance. Possible ways to elicit further dialogue might be: “It sounds like you might be worried about something--what might that be? Let’s talk about it.” “Maybe you are worried that you might become ill/die soon.-- We can talk about that for a while.” A brief, consoling answer that is based on fact is the best response to question: “We all die. However, I don’t think you need to worry that you will die yet. We are going to try and keep you safe and well for many years.” 54
  56. 56. IN THE CLASSROOM When there is a death of a student or school personnel, a good rule of thumb is to tell the students what has happened and then be prepared to tell them again. It will take more than one explanation for the news to sink in. Also, if you are willing to talk about the death, the students will know that it is all right for them to talk about it, too. When discussing death with the students, do not do it just before a recess or immediately prior to sending them home. Give them some time in the classroom to process the information. Ask students if they have ever experienced death or illness before. Respond to their statements with some of the following questions: “How did you feel after (____) died? Was it hard for you?” “Who helped you feel better?” “How does it feel, now when we talk about (____) dying?” “Do you have any ideas about how we can feel better about our sadness? Remember (____)?” WHAT TO DO: Help the students feel that they can regain a sense of control over their world. Acknowledge that the recent event was painful, but also let students know that they are secure and safe. Always tell the truth. Plan a group activity to celebrate the life of the person who has died. This ritual will let students say good-bye in their own way. Reassure students whenever they need it. Provide comfort. Be ready with a warm smile, a pat on the back, a hug. Affirm all expectations; do an exercise on the board having to do with “feeling words.” Respond to endless questions. Repeated questions are ways for young people to know if we are serious and to process the information we give them. Let the children know that it is not their fault. These things happen; people die. Always give factual information, not predictions. A terminal illness leads to death; we do not know when, however. Sometimes children express their concerns and fears through their play. Enter into play with them. For example, play with puppets or share a grief experience. 55
  57. 57. LETTER TO STAFF SAMPLE ONLY (DATE) Dear Staff, There are times when it is necessary to communicate news that is painful for all of us. During those times we must be prepared to support each other as we deal with the many feelings that we begin to experience. It is with great sorrow that I inform you that (teacher/student/friend) _______________ ___________________________________ Name from _______________________________________ has died. School Name We all share the shock and sadness that overcomes us at a time like this. Death can be difficult for us to understand, especially when it is sudden. We will begin to feel different emotions: shock, sadness, confusion, even some anger. What is most important is that we care for and support each other. Please know that we care for you, your feelings, and all that you may be experiencing as a result of (NAME)’s death. The School Crisis Response Team will be available to lend support and refer you to appropriate agencies for further help, if needed. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you. In memory of (NAME), the flag will be flown at half-mast for the remainder of the week. Sincerely, (Principal’s name) 56
  58. 58. LETTER TO STAFF SAMPLE ONLY TO: All faculty FROM: ____________, Principal DATE: RE: Announcement Concerning Student Death Please read the following announcement to your first period class after the pledge to the flag, on __________ . Date We are saddened to learn of the death this weekend of a ____________________student, School Name __________________________________, who died late Saturday afternoon of a gunshot Name of Student wound. The complete details of his death are not available at this time. I know that this news may be upsetting to some students. If you need to talk with a counselor, please request a pass to the Counseling Office. ************************************************************************ If you have students who seem unduly upset after the announcement or during the school day, send them to the Counseling Office. However, you can be of assistance to students just by listening and letting them express their feelings. 57
  59. 59. SUICIDE INTERVENTION PROCEDURES Suicide is a major cause of death among adolescents in the United States. A suicidal person experiences feelings of wanting to die or wanting to live. Both occur at the same time. This ambivalence is what makes suicide prevention possible. To the pre-kindergarten child, suicide is not the fearsome reality that it is to older children. To the younger child, death and suicide can be tuned on and off, just like a fantasy. The child uses the suicide threat to inform the parent of his need for greater attention. To the elementary school child, suicide threats or attempts are seen as a means to communicate anger or to punish parents. Preadolescence and adolescence is the time of preparation for adulthood, for an evolving self, which includes developing life skills. Many troubled youngsters try to escape from reality with drugs; others see suicide as a solution to their problems. Keep in mind that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. If the student approaches you to discuss suicide, assume that the student is interested in seeking help and is seriously considering harming him or herself. All talk about suicide should be taken seriously and prompt attention should be given. If a student verbalizes, writes or discusses thoughts of suicide or harming himself, immediately accompany or escort the student to a counselor or administrator. Under no circumstances should an untrained person attempt to assess the severity of the suicidal risk; all assessments of threats, attempts or other risk factors must be determined by the counselor. TEACHER AND STAFF RESPONSIBILITIES: 1. Do NOT leave the student alone. 2. Escort the student to the counselor/administrator or call for security. 3. If counselor is not available, escort the student to the nurse. 4. Do NOT leave messages with the assumption that the situation will be dealt with. 5. Do NOT allow the student to leave the area or go to the restroom alone or to attend classes. 6. After school hours: If a teacher or staff becomes aware of a suicidal threat or action by a student, notify the on-site administrator. If no one is available, call Brownsville Independent School District Police at 548-8378. 58
  60. 60. COUNSELOR RESPONSIBILITIES: IF PARENT OR GUARDIAN CAN BE LOCATED • Remain with the student. • Screen the student to assess the risk using Screening for Level of Suicidal Risk: Interview Guidelines (pages 65 and 66 ) • Consult with the following Campus Crisis Team: Counselor, Nurse and Administrator and / or supervisor, if appropriate. 1. Complete the Student Safety Plan with the student. (pages 71 and 72) 2. Contact parents or family and hold a parent conference, have Notification of Emergency Conference form signed and give a Community Resource List to the family. 3. Alert the assigned campus police officer to be aware of the situation, if appropriate. 4. Release the student to the family and obtain parent’s signatures on Notification of Emergency Conference form. (page 73-74) 5. If the parents are willing to come to school but have no transportation, then contact the BISD Police Department at 548-8378 for assistance with transportation. 6. Follow-up the next day with Campus Crisis Team: • The student must provide clearance from a mental health provider/physician before being allowed to return to classes. IF PARENT OR GUARDIAN CAN NOT BE LOCATED: Low Risk Students • Administrator, nurse or counselor must remain with the student. • Screen the student to assess the risk using Screening for Level of Suicidal Risk: Interview Guidelines. • Consult with the following Campus Crisis Team members: Counselor, Nurse and Administrator, if appropriate. 1. If the parents are willing to come to school but have no transportation, then contact the BISD Police Department at 548-8378 for assistance with transportation. 2. If the parents can’t be reached these procedures will be followed: a. Complete the Student Safety Plan, if appropriate. b. The Campus Crisis Team may remain with the student, until the parent is reached. (Refer to Penal Code 20.02: Unlawful Restraint.) c. Call the adults listed in campus emergency information card. If no one can be reached, call the BISD Police Department for assistance at 548-8378. The campus staff will continue all through the evening to try and reach the parent, responsible adult or relative. 3. If the parent is unwilling to contact or come to the school and the staff member believes that the student’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect, call Child Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400. (Emphasize that a team of three professionals have concerns about the parent’s unresponsiveness). 59
  61. 61. 4. Within 24 hours the Campus Crisis Team must follow-up with the following: • The student must provide clearance from a mental health provider before being allowed to return to classes. • Make direct contact with student and parent/guardian. Medium-Risk Students • An administrator, nurse or counselor must remain with the student. • Screen the student to assess the risk using Screening for Level of Suicidal Risk Interview Guidelines. • Consult with the following Campus Crisis Team members: Counselor, Nurse, and Administrator. 1. If the parents are willing to come to school but have no transportation, then the counselor, nurse or administrator will contact the BISD Police Department at 548-8378 for assistance with transportation. 2. If the parent or family members listed on the campus emergency card cannot be reached, the following procedures will be followed: a. Complete the Student Safety Plan. b. The following Campus Crisis Team Members:(Counselor, Nurse, or Administrator) will complete the Need for Emergency Assistance form. c. Call the BISD Police Department at 548-8378 to determine whether the student meets the criteria for an Application to Facility for Emergency Detention Without a Warrant for Preliminary Evaluation. d. The Administrator, Nurse or Counselor will remain with the student, until the parent/guardian or family member listed on the campus emergency card is reached. e. When the parent arrives, proceed with a parent conference, have the Notification of Emergency Conference form signed, and give the parent the Community Resource List. 3. If the parent is unwilling to contact the school or come to the school and the Crisis Team Members believe that the student’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect, call Child Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400. Emphasize that a team of three professionals have concern about the parent’s unresponsiveness. 60
  62. 62. 4. Within 24 hours the Campus Crisis Team must follow-up with the following: • The student must provide clearance from a mental health provider before being allowed to return to classes. • Make direct contact with student and parent/guardian. High Risk Students • An Administrator, Nurse or Counselor must remain with student. • Screen the student to assess the risk using Screening for Level of Suicidal Risk: Interview Guidelines. • Consult with the Campus Crisis Team, if appropriate. 1. If the parent/guardian is willing to come to school, but have no transportation, then the Counselor, nurse or administrator will contact the BISD Police Department for assistance with transportation. The counselor, nurse, or administrator will accompany the student home with the police officer. Upon arrival at the student’s home, a parent conference will be held, Notification of Emergency Conference form will be signed, Community/Regional Resource List will be given and parents will agree to arrange transportation to community/regional resource facility. 2. If a family member can not be reached, the Campus Crisis Team (Counselor, Nurse, and Administrator) will complete the Need for Emergency Assistance. 3. Call BISD Police Department to determine whether the student meets the criteria for an Application to Facility for Emergency Detention Without a Warrant for Preliminary Evaluation (Health and Safety Code Section 462.041) 4. If the student meets the criteria for Section 462.041, the student will be transported to a community facility for emergency assistance by the BISD Police or the Brownsville Police Department. 5. If the parent is unwilling to contact the school or come to the school and the staff member believes that the student’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect, call Child Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400. (Emphasize that a team of three professionals have concern about the parent’s unresponsiveness.) 6. Within 24 hours the Campus Crisis Team must follow-up with the following: • The student must provide clearance from a mental health provider before being allowed to return to classes. • Make direct student contact. • Make direct parent/guardian contact. 61