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Suggested School Safety "Teachable Moment" Lesson

Natural Disasters, School/Community Violence/Tragic School Community Deaths

Scott Poland,  Ed.D., Director
Department of Psychological Services

Donna Poland, Ph.D.,
Middle School Principal

Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District
Houston, Texas
713-460-7825

Objective

Suggested Activities

Resources

1. Students will develop an understanding of the facts regarding the "critical incident".

Teacher will share facts that have been provided by administration that answer: "Who, what, when, where?"  If there was a perpetrator, care will be taken to avoid their glorification.

  • Fact Sheet
  • *Tip Sheet

2. Students will express reactions and concerns regarding the behaviors of the "critical incident" individuals (victims and perpetrators) .

Question: "Why do you think this happened?"

Whole group activities:

Popcorn

Bean Bag Toss

Community Circle

Write a letter to the principal: "How I Feel About What Happened."

  • Any light object that can be passed or tossed from student to student.
  • Student- Scribe
  • Teacher- Facilitator

3. Students will explore alternative responses for managing anger and avoiding self-destructive decisions.

Question: "How do you think this could have been avoided?"

Small group activities:

Brainstorm:

What makes you angry?

How do you deal with it?

What is an appropriate way to respond?

Teacher led instruction on conflict resolution, anger management model.

  • model for anger management or conflict resolution
  • role play scenarios

4. Students will be provided an opportunity to express fears and concerns of their own safety.

Questions:

"Is it possible for this to happen in our own community?"

" What would make you feel safer right now?"

 

5. Students will understand that a structure designed to assure safety and well being is in place in their own school and community.

Question: "What are we doing to prevent this from happening in our own school /community?"

Discuss: security around school, breaking the "conspiracy of silence" by telling an adult.

Activity: Write a letter to the principal with your ideas about how to make your school safer.

  • Review school crisis plan and safety task force recommendations.

6. Students will be able to communicate effective and appropriate ways to respond to a crisis (following directions of an adult, safest part of the building, etc.) and to situations of escalating anger (student contracts, Boys' Town, Peer Mediation, etc.).

Questions:

"What would we do to assure student safety in an incident like this?

"What will we do to assure that this will not happen in our school?"

  • Review crisis drills
  • Review school creeds and student pledges that address the actions necessary to prevent violence.

7. Students will be able to express empathy for victims.

Question: "What can we do to express our sympathy?"

Student choices:

  • letters, notes of sympathy to victims
  • letters to editor
  • letters of appreciation to own parents, teachers
  • gather supplies, donations
  • fund raisers
  • involvement in planning appropriate memorials
  • Review school and district policies

8. Students will explore ways to reduce exposure to violence in our society and tragic deaths of peers.

Question: "Is there too much violence in movies, television, music, and video games?"

Student choices:

  • Group discussion of how to reduce exposure and make appropriate choices.
  • Letters to decision makers, legislatures, producers, etc.
  • List best/worst examples of movies, music, videos, etc.
  • Consider starting an anti-violence club or organization and discuss ways to increase student involvement in school safety and violence prevention. 
  • Local newspaper!
  • Weekly national magazines!
  • TV Guide!
  • Contact Mothers Against Violence in America at 800-897-7697 for information on starting a Students Against Violence Everywhere chapter.

9.      Students will identify the leading causes of death for children which are in order:

  • accidents
  • homicides
  • suicides

Question: "What do you think are the leading causes of death for our children in America today?"

Student choices:

  • Group discussion
  • library or Internet research
  • writing to organizations that provide prevention and intervention information.
  • Contact the following organizations for prevention information and student initiatives to prevent tragedies:
    1. Students Against Destructive Decisions @ PO Box 800,Marlborough, MA 01752, 877-SADD-INC
    2. American Association of Suicidology @ Suite 302,4201 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008, 202-237-2280
    3. Mothers Against Violence in America @ 105 14th Street, Suite 2A, Seattle, Washington  98122  800-897-7697