Student health and safety are very complex. Before Covid-19, the CDC reported that suicide was the tenth (10th) leading cause of death, and these rates had been significantly increasing across the U.S. during the past decade. During Covid-19, increasing numbers of students said they felt overwhelmed, and not just about the health of their family and friends due to the virus. Physical, mental, and emotional health challenges included:
- Losing a parent or close relative to Covid-19.
- Newly unemployed parents led to financial worries.
- Food insecurity.
- Falling behind academically.
- Isolation from friends and social activities across multiple months and athletic seasons.
- Being trapped in an abusive relationship/household.
Our young cannot handle these challenges without support.
Long-term Effects of Covid on Students
Experts believe the effects of the pandemic on students are likely to be felt for years to come. The U.S. Department of Education has stressed that a students’ social, emotional, and mental health must be supported to create a strong foundation for academic success. The JED Foundation is a nonprofit that works with high schools and colleges on student mental health issues. In a special report by EducationWeek, a JED Foundation spokesperson stated that someone could react to an event that happened a year or two or ten years ago with a kind of trauma-related response or depression or suicide. This is one of the reasons why schools need to be prepared to deal with pandemic-related stressors in a very comprehensive and long-term way.
Everyone in the community needs to identify and report observable and concerning behaviors of at-risk students. Every school needs a comprehensive system that identifies and supports them by getting the help they need before harming themselves or others.
Know the Warning Signs
What are the warning signs that a student may be at risk? For a comprehensive list, view the 2021 NTAC report in detail. Here are a few that are often observed before violent acts:
- Sharing their intentions to carry out an attack verbally, through text messages, or online posts.
- Concerning threatening, bizarre or violent communications in person, social media, text messages, or other sharing websites.
- Heightened or inappropriate interest in violent acts, weapons, homicides, and ideologies and beliefs often associated with violence such as Hitler, Nazism, and/or white supremacy.
- Social stressors that involve their relationships with peers and/or romantic partners.
- Interpersonal conflicts/grievances with classmates.
- Access to weapons at home or through a friend or relative.
Comprehensive safety solutions that include technology and training for the entire school community can prevent, detect, and contain risk. At-risk students are identified so they can get the help they need, and when a student is on a pathway to violence, intervention can save lives.
- Prevent: Foster students’ personal growth, resilience, and protection of themselves and others. Train your students in social and emotional learning, instill a safety mindset, and provide trauma-informed care knowledge.
- Detect: Train internal and external members of your school community to review and assess the level of risk an individual may be to themselves or others—then develop a plan to protect the individual and possible targets.
- Contain: Save lives by leveraging an alert system that instantly informs and requests help from staff and/or 911 for any emergency or non-emergency issue. Enable faster responses, more effective actions, and better outcomes when time is of the essence.
Targeted school violence is preventable. To learn more about STOPit Solutions, download A Guide to Comprehensive Safety Solutions for K-12 Schools.