Welcome to the Teachers/Administrators/School Support Staff landing page. It is our hope the information on this page will provide guidance and information when addressing the issue of school safety especially as it relates to bullying and school shootings. To make it easier for you to access the information you are looking for we have divided the information by topic as follows:
The Illinois State Board of Education remains the education authority for the State of Illinois and IDHS-DMH supports their messaging and resources related to teachers and administrators on their School Wellness webpage.
The Illinois School and Campus Safety Resource Center has developed a resource page for Bullying K-12, Behavioral Threat Assessment, and School Violence. This center is a partnership between the Illinois Terrorism Task Force and Western Illinois University, it is administered by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board Executive Institute at Western Illinois University.
Teachers, Administrators and School Support Staff also have access to the information available at their National Association webpages. Some of this information has limited access for non-members. Below are the links to each of the National Associations:
National Association of School Psychologists
National Association of School Nurses
National Association of Social Workers
National Association of State Boards of Education
National Education Association
School Superintendents Association
It seems that School Personnel are constantly receiving information about bullying and how to help students. This webpage is not intended to be an exhaustive list of resources available to you, but rather a place to start your search. Although research in this area is relatively new, we do know that there is a disconnect between what students are experiencing and what adults are observing, especially since most bullying episodes last for less than 40 seconds.
Middle School appears to be the age at which most bullying occurs. One Report on Bullying in Schools conducted in 2015 indicated that more bullying incidents occurred in Rural schools than Urban or Suburban. There have been recorded incidents of teachers/adults bullying students or students bullying adults. Specific data on bullying in Illinois is available via the Illinois Youth Survey (pdf) for 8th grade, 10th grade and 12th grade.
A frequently asked question is whose responsibility is it to prevent bullying (pdf)? In this article by Edutopia, everyone plays a role: teachers, parents, and principals. Learning first.org has a great resource list for Initiatives on Bullying. PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center offers Classroom Curriculum for elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. Here are two additional resources related to Positive Behavior Support in Elementary School (pdf) and Middle School/High School (pdf). Knowing the Best Practices in Bullying Prevention and Intervention (pdf)can also help. However, if universal interventions are not enough, there are tier two and tier three interventions (pdf) that can help. Bullying is not limited to schools in the United States. Here is a link to a report on Interventions on Bullying and Cyberbullying in schools.
Students are most affected by the systems change that needs to occur to reduce bullying, increase school safety, and improve school climate, but are rarely included or consulted. The U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Regional Educational Laboratory West, created a resource, Speak Out, Listen Up! Tools for Using Student Perspectives and Local Data for School Improvement (pdf), to assist school administration in engaging students in the change process. There are many examples of where youth voice has been used to impact change.
As you already know, School Personnel play a vital role in creating safe, caring, engaging environments for students to learn and school personnel to work. The Illinois Terrorism Taskforce School Safety Workgroup (pdf) has developed 14 recommendations related to school safety. In addition to these, there is also a wealth of information available on school safety and crisis safety planning. In 1999 The Illinois State Board of Education released the Safe at School Resource Manual (pdf). A recent Federal Guide for Developing High-Quality School emergency Operations Plans (pdf) is also a resource for school safety that might be of assistance to school personnel. The information below is organized in an effort to support school personnel on implementing different pieces of successful school safety plans. Additional resources can also be found at SchoolSafety.gov.
On the parent page we described a Behavioral Threat Assessment Team as a trained team of individuals connected to a school able to assess the level of concern and suggest interventions for students. It is believed that incorporating this type of model into a school setting could potentially prevent violent actions, and also provide support for at-risk youth. This model differs from others in its preventive rather than reactive nature, and by promoting supportive, rather than disciplinary, intervention techniques. There are many resources available related to this topic. National resources useful in beginning a search for information include: National Association of School Psychologists, National Institute of Justice (pdf), Educators School Safety Network, Threat Assessment in Schools: A guide To Managing Threatening Situations and to Creating Safe School Climates (pdf).
School Building Emergency and Crisis Response Plans:
Illinois Public Act 101-0455 amended Section 25 The School Safety Drill Act by changing section 25 and adding Section 45. Please refer to the linked Public Act for additional information. The section that supports this recommendation mandates "school boards to review each school building emergency and crisis response plans, protocols, and procedures, including procedures regarding the school district's threat assessment team." Related resources include: Illinois School and Campus Safety Resource Center- Behavioral Threat Assessment page, Maryland's Model Policy for Behavior Threat Assessments (pdf), Threat Assessment in Virginia Public Schools: Model Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines (pdf).
Information Sharing Federal and State Acts:
When considering the sharing of information, there are a few privacy acts that need to be considered. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal regulation, while the Illinois Student Records Act is specific to Illinois. When sharing information related to Mental Health there are additional laws that might need to be considered. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) is a federal law that in its briefest description protects health care information. In Illinois the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act among other items limits the ability to disclose mental health care and developmental disability service records without consent. The requirements for when a school should share information with law enforcement is outside the purview of the Department of Human Services and we recommend schools rely on information provided by the State Board of Education and the Illinois State Police.
Student School Safety Tip Line:
Illinois is in the process of developing a student tip line where anonymous calls about criminal activity or potential harm to self or others can be reported. There are a few States that currently have similar tip lines: Michigan, Ohio and Colorado.
School Safety Plans and Drills:
With all of the "Drills" occurring in schools, it is necessary for Schools to ensure that the addition of active shooter drills in schools doesn't increase stress or cause trauma. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides a resource on Creating School Active Shooter/Intruder Drills that is trauma informed. An additional consideration for the trauma informed environment is the trend toward "Hardening of School Facilities "and the reduction in the actual perception of safety that may result from these measures. Here are resources for you to consider in your efforts to create a trauma informed environment: The National Education Association School Crisis Guid, Department of Education Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center, National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments.
Vicarious Trauma/Compassion Fatigue:
We decided to start the section on Mental Wellness by focusing on your own mental well-being. Too often, your students may be relying on you for support, while their parents also expect you to keep their children safe. While you undoubtedly share the goal of supporting and keeping your students safe, you may also experience a sense of fear or doubt related to your ability to do this. This in turn leaves you at risk for suffering secondary trauma. Compassion Fatigue is a form of secondary trauma experienced as a result of helping others. It's the result of caring. For individuals working in schools who are supporting students, families, and co-workers, the secondary traumatic stress experienced can affect their mental and physical health. This is why self-care is so important.
How do teachers support their health, happiness and mental wellbeing? You can't help others if you don't help yourself first. There are many articles, videos, books and resources available online related to this topic. The recommendation is that you find one that works for you and stick with it! The Dartmouth Student Wellness Center has a set of Relaxation Downloads and tools for students to utilize during stressful academic or personal times. Concordia University offer a webpage supporting the Rethinking of PD: Self-Care & Mindfulness for Teachers. Self-Care for Educators (pdf)
Social Emotional Learning, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, School Based Mental Health (pdf), Mindfulness - these are all examples of how mental health prevention services can be brought into the school setting as a way to prepare students to be available to learn in the classroom. Research has demonstrated that good mental health is necessary for both students and adults to be successful in schools. There are many National Resources available on this topic. The research indicates that for mental health services to be successful in school settings there must be a continuum of interventions imbedded in the Multi-tiered Systems of Support. Here are more you may find helpful: NASP School-Based Mental Health Services (pdf), National Center for School Mental Health, Center for Mental Health in Schools and Student/Learning Supports at UCLA.
Trauma Informed Schools:
The Kaiser Permanente ACES study demonstrated that the more Adverse Childhood Experiences an individual endures, the greater their risk for poor outcomes, both short and long term. The higher the ACE score the greater the risk for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, suicide, low birth weight, smoking and substance abuse. The Illinois ACEs Reponses Collaborative has Illinois specific data from 2013 indicating that students with 3 or more ACES are significantly more likely to be unable to perform at grade level, be designated as special education, suspended, expelled, or to drop out of school. There is also a high correlation between high ACEs scores and criminal justice involvement and incarceration.
The risk that traumatic life events have on a child do not necessarily indicate that poor outcomes are the only expectation. That is because resiliency plays an important role in recovery from traumatic events and toxic stress. This is where trauma informed care and trauma informed schools play an important role in not only providing a safe engaging learning environment but also in protecting and preventing trauma triggers. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides a wealth of resources for schools including: System Framework (pdf), Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators (pdf) and Addressing Race and Trauma in the Classroom (pdf), The MHTTC has a resource for Creating Trauma-Informed Policies: A Practice Guide for School and Mental Health Leadership (pdf).