School safety and mental health resources in the wake of the Uvalde tragedy

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) — It’s impossible for a parent to watch the footage from Uvalde, Texas without breaking their hearts.

Seeing the innocent young people involved in such a horrific tragedy, it’s hard not to see your own child in their faces.

Knowing that many parents are nervous right now, 11 News Call For Action investigator Katie Pelton spoke with the director of the Colorado School Safety Resource Center about how families can cope in the aftermath of the shooting. at Uvalde School, as well as what our state is doing to make sure our campuses are safe. Below is a Q&A between Pelton and Chris Harms, director of the Colorado Schools Safety Resource Center.

First, talk about what the Colorado School Safety Resource Center does? It’s a program by the state, isn’t it?

“We are part of the Department of Public Safety and we are mandated to serve all schools in Colorado, from K-12 through higher education, and we do this by providing training, resources and technical assistance to all schools that request it.”

A violent event like this is hard on children and adolescents. What should parents say in the future and what can we do to help our children through this ordeal?

“I think first and foremost we have to take care of ourselves. We need to think about how it affects us, and most adults need the opportunity to discuss this with other adults, but we need to do so out of children’s earshot.

“Then I think we have to listen to our children and understand how they feel, what their questions are. We have to be development-friendly; we are going to limit the information we give to the youngest, and basically, we are going to reassure them as we need to reassure ourselves: they are safe, especially if school is out, and everyone is doing everything so that sure that they are also safe at school, and even though it is a horrible thing that has happened, it is really out of the ordinary, and school is always the safest place for children to be. kids spending time.

What are schools in Colorado doing to prevent this kind of thing from happening?

“Well, I know a lot of parents right now are concerned about that, and rightly so, but I have to reassure people: because we’ve had these kinds of events in the past in Colorado, our schools are probably among the most prepared schools of any in the nation. They’ve worked tirelessly since the Columbine tragedy to make sure they’re keeping kids safe. And that doesn’t just mean looking at the physical layout of the building — our schools work very hard to keep the doors locked, to have locks on the classroom doors as well, to really protect who comes into the building.

“But on top of that, our schools — we probably have more threat assessment teams in our schools in Colorado than in any other state. A threat assessment team is a group of individuals, and it usually includes an administrator, a mental health care provider, a law enforcement officer — there’s one in the school or one who works with the school — and anyone else who may know of a student who has spoken up to others feeling that they may be a student at risk of committing acts of violence, either on themselves or on someone else in the building.

“These threat assessment teams work very hard to investigate these situations and then put resources in place to prevent the student from going down the path of violence. In Colorado schools, hundreds of threat assessments are conducted each year. Knock on wood, in most cases they stopped this kind of thing from happening.

The crisis response guidelines were released in March this year?

“We just released it in April. This was done by a 27-member stakeholder group that drew much of the lessons learned, not only from incidents in Colorado, but also from incidents across the country. We thought it was wise to put these lessons learned in one place, one guideline, so schools can think about what educators wish they had known about a tragic event.

These guidelines and other center resources can be found by clicking here.

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