School Shootings: What You & I Can Do!
School shootings are one the hardest things to digest because they fly in the face of everything we believe. We love kids. We love our schools. We love the work we do.
I’ve been in this fight since we first made the TEEN TRUTH: BULLY & SCHOOL VIOLENCE film in 2000, but I’ve never found the words to articulate or reconcile the pain these tragedies create. However, I have learned a few things throughout that time that might help us regain some of our footing.
We must advocate for school counseling programs and better mental health screenings on campus. We need to do everything in our power to help lower student to counselor ratios, and bring more mental health professionals into the fold.
Furthermore, we must actively work to free school counselors from the burden of scheduling duty, testing duty, bus duty, yard duty, you-name-it duty and place them back into the role that they were trained to perform as school counselors and mental health professionals.
Talk to your admin team about this issue. Talk to your school board about this issue. Talk to your PTA about this issue. And do everything you can to make sure your school counseling team is empowered to run ASCA’s national school counseling model.
We can fight for laws that will bring greater protection, but at the end of the day all we have are our staff and our students. We need to create a campus where students are constantly reminded, “If you see something, say something.”
Our mantra from TEEN TRUTH since day #1 has been that your students are the eyes, ears, and hearts of your campus. So work to create an environment where they feel safe and empowered to report any issues they see or hear both in life and on social media.
We must create a community that is unafraid of discussing hard issues. A community where it’s ok to talk about pain, and to be vulnerable and truthful. The path to create this type of culture is through honest messaging and constant reminders to students and staff. Put them in your announcements, at the bottom of your tests, and on the walls of your campus quad. Build an environment where kids feel connected and supported.
These three steps have been the foundation of our programs since we launched our mission, and we hope they’ll become the foundation of your efforts to build your own school culture as you empower student voice across your campus.
We are all rooting for you.
JC Pohl, LMFT-A
President & CEO, TEEN TRUTH