Assessing and Responding to Crisis Situations in the Schools Annotated Bibliography

Excerpt from Annotated Bibliography :

Threat Assessments and Crisis Interventions in the Public Schools

Allen, M. & Burt, K. (2002). School counselors' preparation for and participation in crisis intervention. Professional School Counseling, 6(2), 96-101.

Authors cite the increasing number of crisis situations being experienced in the nation's public schools and describe the trauma, cognitive dissonance and loss of a sense of security that can adversely affect all students and teachers who experience these types of events, even when they are resolved safely. While the list of crisis situation types is virtually infinite in public school settings, some of the more common types of crises that have been experienced in the public schools in the past include natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes) as well as anthropogenic sources including school shootings, suicide, student or teacher deaths, sexual and physical abuse, and gang-related activities. Fires in the schools may be either natural or manmade. Prioritizing these types of crisis situations and formulating contingency plans for response is an important part of the process. Although there remains a paucity of guidance concerning who is most responsible for responding to crisis situations in the schools, authors make the point that school counselors are in an especially good position to coordinate crisis interventions due to their professional training and experience. Authors add, though, that some counselors may be ill-prepared to assume these responsibilities and will require supplemental or remedial training to ensure that they are prepared to coordinate effective crisis interventions.

Cornell, D. G. & Allen, K. (2012, March). A randomized controlled study of the Virginia student threat assessment guidelines in kindergarten through grade 12. School Psychology Review, 41(1), 100-105.

Authors make the point that the source of threats in the K-12 school environment can assume a number of different forms, ranging from bullying to violent acts that can result from disputes with teachers to failed friendships including romantic involvements between students. During the 2007-2008 school year, more than one-third of public elementary schools and two-thirds of middle and high schools reported threats of physical attacks by students wielding some type of weapon. Assessing these threats requires vigilance on the part of all school personnel, including most especially teachers and school psychologists. Timely performed, threat assessments can help identify these types and sources of these issues and provide the opportunity for mental health interventions for the students that are involved. Because many schools use a zero-tolerance approach…

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A number of states implemented crisis response planning requirements following the shootings at Colorado's Columbine High School in April 1999. Authors note, though, that notwithstanding the increase in high-profile crisis situations in the nation's public schools such as school shooting, teachers will be more likely to have to respond to crisis situations that involve child abuse and neglect, emotional abuse or bullying on a more frequent basis. Likewise, even events that occur outside the school doors such as the death or injury of a family member, the divorce of parents or an abusive home environment can have an adverse effect on students while they are in school. Finally, for schools that do not already have a crisis intervention plan in place, authors recommend forming a task force to develop one at the earliest opportunity.

Pascopella, A. (2008, January). Threat assessment plans: Every district needs an action plan for averting violence. District Administration, 44(1), 34-37.

Authors cites the ongoing need for assessing threats in the nation's public school districts and recommends that all district administrators secure a copy of the guide to managing threat situations and creating safe school environments published collaboratively by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Secret Service. In fact, the guide is based on the U.S. Secret Service's plans for protecting the President of the United States from various threats. Although every school district is unique, the types of threats that can occur share some commonalities that make threat assessment an overarching priority. While all public school districts are required to have emergency management plans in place in the event of natural disasters, there is no corresponding requirement for having threat assessment plans in place. Therefore, district administrators must take the lead in creating an organizational culture that places a high priority on threat assessment in order to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the problem and understand how to respond when threats materialize.

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