Students Traumatized by Violence Report Lower GPAs

A recent study done in collaboration with over a dozen national school and safety organizations has revealed that students who have been affected by violence, either in their communities or at school, report lower GPAs, more negative remarks on their records and test scores and more school absences than their peers who have been unaffected. The study also reports that children were about two times more likely to be affected by the negative effects of trauma than adults – making prevention of these events increasingly important.

 

Trauma can also affect sustained and focused attention, making it difficult for students to remain engaged and focused in school. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “When children are exposed to violence, the convergence between real-life events and their worst fears – about physical injury and loss of life, loved ones, and control of their actions and feelings – is an experience of overwhelming and often unanticipated danger [that] triggers a traumatic disruption of biological, cognitive, social, and emotional regulations that has different behavioral manifestations.”

 

The organizations collectively suggest practicing planning and prevention methods as a key to stopping traumatic events from occurring. With an effective plan in place, stakeholders are more prepared and confident if a traumatic event, like a school shooting, were to occur. Jeff Green, CEO of SafeDefend, advocates for all schools to have a firm safety plan in place. “Having a set safety plan before traumatic events occur is the best way to protect our students. The SafeDefend system is an effective plan that engages staff, law enforcement and students to work together to keep our schools safe.”

 

Read more from the report here

School Safety in the Cloud

A Texas school district has adopted the use of cloud technology to store and monitor school safety – providing an all around view of security. The software maintains emergency plans, contact information, reports and tracks threats and monitors public safety and social media channels, reportedly costing the district about $50,000 per year.

Cris Esquivel, chief of the district’s police department, said, “I don’t just want to control a crisis; I want to get ahead of it.”

The program features:

  • A threat streams module that pulls and identifies information from news sources and Twitter
  • Opportunity for police officers and school staff to report suspicious activity
  • Modules to maintain data about school facilities and key personnel

Although the program seems solid on the surface, obvious security risks arise when any information is stored on cloud technology. The two biggest concerns with cloud storage are reliability and security. There is always the possibility that hackers could access private data or that the system could crash – leaving stored data useless in the event of an emergency.

This system is designed to help law enforcement respond in an emergency and any system that enhances law enforcement effectiveness is certainly a benefit. However, according to Jeff Green, CEO of SafeDefend, “The question still remains; what do staff do until help arrives? School staff will always will be the first responders in ANY crisis. Law enforcement help is minutes, sometimes MANY minutes away. A comprehensive approach is needed to ensure the highest levels of protection and response options exist for those who are in the crisis until help arrives.”

The cloud based structure for school security in Texas blazes the trail for this type of security system in schools, but only time will tell if the program is worth the hefty price tag.
Read more about the system here.

Survivor of Heath High School Shooting Endorses SafeDefend

Missy Jenkins Smith, a survivor of the Heath High School Shooting and award winning author, has endorsed SafeDefend for its use of non-lethal advanced technology and a teacher training program which empowers teachers and ensures continued safety of students in the classroom.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 5.15.51 PMMs. Jenkins Smith became a victim of school shooting violence on December 1, 1997, when a student at her high school randomly fired a .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol in the school lobby. Fifteen-year-old Smith was among the five critically injured students and was left paralyzed and wheelchair-bound.

After the shooting, Smith felt compelled to become an advocate and speak publicly about her experience and the importance of a proactive approach to school safety. Smith said, “It’s very important for people to realize that this is something that can happen anywhere.” Smith believes that more work needs to be done in the domain of school safety, adding, “Students and teachers need to understand the importance of being prepared in the event of an emergency and that these events can be prevented.”

Since the shooting, Smith has accepted her disability and reclaimed her life by speaking publicly about the incident to tens of thousands of youth and adults, garnering national media attention. Additionally, Smith has written an award winning memoir, titled, “I Choose to Be Happy: A School Shooting Survivor’s Triumph Over Tragedy.”

Watch the full interview with Missy Jenkins Smith and Valerie Jennings: