Monday, March 28, 2011

A School Shooting Affects Many People

A recent student attack on another student at a Middle School in Martinsville, IN, left one 15-year-old boy in critical condition days after the shooting and another 15-year-old boy in jail.

Their lives will never be the same. Their parent's lives will never be the same.

What about all the others?

School administrators and teachers in that building and in the rest of the schools in the system will be changed.

Many of the students and their parents will need help coping with the shooting.

Melissa Payne, a nurse at a Martinsville hospital was on duty when word of the shooting at her son's middle school reached the hospital. She tried calling his mobile phone, but he forgot and left it at home. When she couldn't reach him to be sure he was okay, she left her work and rushed to the school.

It took some time to find him. The school was locked-down for hours and hundreds of frantic parents assembled outside, waiting to claim and hug their sons and daughters.

Mental health experts say the first reaction of students and faculty is shock.

Bill Krise said his eighth grade step-daughter and her friend were within yards of the shooting and saw the victim lying on the ground and bleeding. He's already arranged for grief counseling for his whole family.

Clint Oliver, a clinical psychologist, says the shock of a violent event is felt by an entire community, whether its in a school or a workplace.

Shock, fear, disbelief, then anger and or sadness settle in.

With all of your other crisis planning, we urge you to include grief counselors and other employee assistance programs that can begin immediately and continue for months, and longer in some cases.

If you have more than a handful of employees or you oversee any kind of school, from nursery school to elementary, middle, high school or college or university, please include in your workplace/schoolplace violence or facility disaster plan a specific holding area, or meeting place, for evacuated faculty/students/employees; another for families and off-duty employees that will rush to the scene; and a third area for the media.

Those areas should be identified before you ever have a crisis and they should be separate and, where possible, identify restroom facilities that are ONLY for one of each group.

The holding area for evacuees and the holding area for families, friends and off-duty workers, should be protected from access by the media.

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