My colleague had a family emergency and I was asked to attend the NY Association of School
Psychologists annual conference this past Thursday and Friday at the Turning Stone casino in Utica. The NYASP conference is a bit different than a school counselor conference. A lot of the sessions did focus around assessment and were somewhat technical, but I did participate in a few very helpful sessions.
Barbara Coloroso was the keynote on Thursday. If you are unfamiliar with Barbara, she is an excellent speaker and author of the Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander. In addition, she has a website Kids Are Worth It, where she has a lot of great information about bullying.
I also sat in on a great session about Peace Circles. Peace circles are being used in Syracuse City Schools and have become a regular morning routine. Peace circles are a form of restorative justice and focus primarily on preventative circles which are loosely based on the Native practices of many ancient cultures. Most of our native ancestors built their communities in the round, holding council circles to communicate, solve problems and make decisions. For more info on peace circles, check out this website.
But probably the session that I got the most information that I could turn around and use back at school is from the suicide session I attended.
I think anyone who works in a school would say that this is definitely an area that worries us. We want all our students to be safe, but when they are not, we want to make sure that we do everything we can to see that they are. We want to make sure we create Suicide Safety at school. In order to do this we need to make sure that our districts have protocols that can address:
· identify students at risk for suicide
· assess the level of risk
· create a plan for safety
· refer to appropriate care
· provide follow up care when a student returns to school
There are also several iPad apps that you can download for free to help with safety plans.
Safety Plan is a free app with a list of coping strategies and social supports that people can use when they are in a suicidal crisis or very distressed. It helps them not act on their suicidal feelings.
Here is a screen shot of the app when opened.
Here is a picture of the app when open.
- Suicide Prevention Center of New York www.PreventSuicideNY.org
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
- Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA12-4669/SMA12-4669.pdf