Say Something...Will You!?
I think we all know what took place in Stonewood-Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day. And Columbine, and Paducah and Sandy Hook. But I am not here today to talk about gun violence or background checks, not even the likelihood of a student with emotional and behavioral issues taking a gun into one of our schools here in Caroline County. No, I am here to talk about one simple way to prevent that likelihood from taking place in our community.
I will give credit to the safety protocols Caroline County has implemented; single point entry, locked doors isolating visitors from students, and check-ins at the office with badges provided individuals with legitimate reasons to be in the building. I applaud the training local police forces have provided teachers and support staff regarding how to respond to an active shooter including, I believe the ALICE Model of response: Alert/Lockdown/Inform/Counter/ Evacuate and the Code Red Drills to ready the students for an actual event (though I am not sure all the schools hold them on a regular basis).
What is missing, is training for the most vulnerable yet most valuable asset we have in our school buildings; our students. Training them to respond BEFORE an incident takes place can effectively PREVENT the incident all together.
According to the Department of Justice Bureau of Statistics, 80% of school shooters TOLD someone of their violent plans prior to the event. 70% of people who die by suicide TOLD someone of their plans or gave some type of warning or indication.
Sandy Hook Promise programs teach our students and adults who care for them how to identify, intervene, and get help for individuals BEFORE they hurt themselves or others. They offer and deliver - at no cost to schools and youth organizations - four “Know the Signs” programs. I am currently a “Promise Leader” for Sandy Hook Promise, and would strongly encourage you all to consider implementing one or more of their programs;
“Say Something” that teaches students how to recognize warning signs and signals, especially within social media and to, “Say Something” to a trusted adult BEFORE it is too late. Anyone who knows teenagers, also knows that there is often a conspiracy of silence, a culture that excludes adults. While it’s all part of growing up and separating from parents, it can have deadly consequences. This program teaches students when their speaking up can save lives.
“Start with Hello” teaches students how to minimize social isolation, marginalization, and rejection by creating an inclusive community that reaches out to at risk individuals. Many school shooters are social outcasts who act out their rejection in violent and dramatic fashion.
“Safety Assessment and Intervention” teaches adults and students how to identify, assess and respond to threats of violence or at-risk behaviors.
And “SOS - Signs of Suicide”- a program that teaches students and adults about the warning signs of depression and suicide, and action steps to get help when concerned about themselves or a friend BEFORE a tragedy occurs. Thank You…. for your consideration.