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Guidelines for Responding to a School Crisis

Students are dealing with a lot these days: student suicides, school shootings and natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina.

Schools are the most important places in a community for a educator or student to receive support when a crisis occurs. Schools provide a familiar environment where the many needs of grieving students and faculty can be met in one place. Administrators and educators need to be prepared to deal with any crisis that might arise; such preparation will better equip them to respond to students’ emotional needs in the wake of a crisis. When administrators and educators are not prepared, they run the risk of increasing the stress on students.

The first thing a school should do is create a school crisis response team, if it doesn’t already have one. The U.S. Department of Justice explains why:

Developing an effective crisis response and building a strong school-based crisis response team is important. Schools nationwide must share all the information, knowledge, skills, experiences, and promising practices that they have learned about crisis response. School crisis teams should include individuals who work within the school and those from the community who work collaboratively with the schools, such as mental health and juvenile justice professionals.

Having a crisis response team helps not only the students, but the administration and educators as well. They are prepared to deal with crisis situations and will be able to advise all parties on acceptable ways to deal with the emergency. For further information on crisis response groups, see The OVC Bulletin: School Crisis Response Initiative.