RCPA - Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association


Helping Communities Address School Violence
October 2, 2006

Communities are again trying to understand and cope with a recent series of school shootings. The most recent of these events occurred in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Members may be called on by the community, local schools, or the media to address the effects of these tragedies. PCPA is in communication with the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (NCCBH), state officials, and members in an effort to provide support, information, and technical assistance. Resource and requests for information and assistance can be sent to Connell O'Brien. A review of numerous web sites and other resources offer the following suggestions for working within communities.

With Parents and Families

  • Encourage parents to listen to their children and offer reassurance that adults are ensuring their safety at home and in school.
  • Let children ask questions and respond to questions in reassuring ways.
  • Limit children’s exposure to media coverage of the school shootings.
  • Maintain normal routines related to school attendance and school rules.
  • With young children it may be helpful to visit the school and assure your child that it is safe.
  • Prepare your child for possible school activities, announcements, or drills intended to ensure their safety.

With Schools

  • Encourage and assist schools to provide support and information for parents about school safety.
  • Offer support and information about how to recognize, prevent, and address childhood anxiety related to the news of school violence.
  • Encourage school administrators, school psychologists, and nurses to check with their professional association’s web sites for additional information and suggestions.
  • Local public schools have a crisis response plan with which providers should be familiar, if not a part of the plan.

With the Media (NCCBH has made available a media and community information specialist to work with PCPA members in responding to media requests and interviews.)

  • Focus on the agency’s role in healing the effects of anxiety and trauma related to acts of violence.
  • Avoid the impulse to speculate or titillate.
  • Work to distinguish between the perpetrators of violent behavior and the behavior of individuals with mental illness.
  • Avoid words or characterizations that are stigmatizing.

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