Archive for January, 2013

Jan 30 2013

School Violence: Here are the facts as we know them

    Here’s a summary of the research from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP):

    • School violence is not an epidemic
    • All school shooters are not alike and there is no accurate profile of the violent offender
    • School shooters often have social difficulties, but they are not always loners
    • Although a common factor, revenge is not the exclusive motivation for school shootings
    • Most attackers had previously used guns and had access to them, but access to weapons is not the most significant risk factor
    • Unusual or aberrant behaviors or interests are not the hallmark of a student destined to become violent
    • Incidents of targeted violence at school are rarely impulsive
    • Prior to most incidents, the attacker told someone about his/her idea or plans
    • Most shooting incidents were not resolved by law enforcement
    • In many cases, other students were involved in some capacity
    • In a number of cases, bullying played a key role in and could have been a predictor of the attack
    • Prior to the incident, most attackers engaged in behavior that caused concern

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Jan 30 2013

Hire More Social Workers in Schools: A Partial Solution

One of the most significant research findings by scientists researching the phenomenon of gun violence in schools is that fact that someone else besides the shooter always knows in advance about the violence.

Look at all the public testimony. No one and I repeat no one mentions the research at all and certainly no one is suggesting we establish formal ways for students to disclose what they know about impending school violence anonymously.

I know this must be happening already. However, to formalize this and allow for the free flowing of information between young people and adults who can actually do something is an excellent idea.

Armed guards in schools? Personally, I think it’s fine to do this. I am not against it at all. The facts in the Columbine high school shootings prove an armed guard can be very crucial in the saving of lives.

Armed guards could also prevent violence, but looking at Columbine again, the armed guard did not prevent the violence. The guard saved people for sure and is certainly a hero for that.

High school social workers on the other hand have an intimate relationship with students and a special place of trust. Creating more roles for social workers and mental health specialists in all schools is an idea whose time is now.

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Jan 22 2013

Psychology and Politics: Polls, Racism, and Obama

Obama and democratic party continues to gain power by addressing the concerns of most Americans.

Polls offer one tiny bit of science to politics. Obama’s approval rating is now 53%, while republicans have a 64% disapproval rating, an increase of 19% since 2011. As I have said before, historians will rate Obama as one of the top 5 presidents.

His accomplishments already are remarkable, especially the Affordable Healthcare Reform Act, bringing us slowly out of the most serious economic crisis since the depression, ending 2 senseless wars, and facing down the hyper-partisanship of the republican party whose opposition to Obama always seemed personal and often racist.

Politics makes for strong opinions and many people still hate Obama. However, their hatred has not and will not stop Obama from building an even greater political and personal legacy over the next 4 (or 40) years.

He’s a brilliant man, with a brilliant wife and brilliant people all around him. And he’s young. He and the democratic party as building the infrastructure (his campaign organization is being transformed into a not-for-profit to help him educate the American public and gain their support for some of the upcoming policy debates, such as immigration reform. Obama and the democratic party has already built an incredible and cohesive coalition.

Hate can only fuel so much action, so republicans are divided, angry at each other and headed for obscurity. So be it.

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Jan 16 2013

Preventing Mass Murder through Better Mental Health Services in Schools

Over the last 35 years, I have watched as school districts and communities have reduced mental health services for children and adolescents.

Why? The officials will probably say something like “funding”, but the truth is those services have never really been valued highly enough.

In schools, social work and other mental health providers are considered “visitors” and the school, the “host” to these do gooders who “talk” to kids.

We do more than talk. Social workers save lives in schools. Ask any social worker how often students reveal thoughts of suicide. I know of one case where a student told the  social worker working in the school of a “suicide pact” among several students. They planned to kill themselves on the anniversary of the death by suicide of one of their friends.

The social worker in this case revealed the pact to the principal right away and all the students and their families received proper care and the suicidal deaths of several students were prevented.

Social workers learning about life threatening events is common. Research also shows that in 75% of school shootings/mass murders, someone knows in advance and could tell someone who might prevent the murders from taking place.

The person who is most likely to prevent these school tragedies is the school social worker.

Do you think a school can afford the $50-$100,000 it would take to fund these positions?

Only if these positions are valued.

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Jan 08 2013

A Son Dies: Exploring the Personal Impact of Rick Warren’s Hostility to LGBT’s

One hears “where there’s smoke there’s fire” a lot when evaluating the religious leaders who stridently oppose LGBT rights, especially marriage equality.

These men seem to crave the attention of both their congregations and media. They are on tv, radio, and often run for the presidency of the United States.

Continue Reading »

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Jan 06 2013

Coach Terminated for Inappropriate Relationship with Player

Another sad story of an athletic coach having an intimate relationship with a player under their supervision.

Apparently, the player was an adult when she had the relationship, but that might mean she was 18 years old. Was she mature enough to have such a relationship? Maybe, but the power differential makes this an unethical action on the part of the coach.

The circumstances are unclear, but the player cooperated with the investigation leading to the termination of the coach from the University of Texas.

Did she report the relationship to the school? It’s quite possible she entered into the relationship at the time in a confused state. It indicates it was consensual, but how can a player say no to a coach she probably idealized.

Referred to a dual relationship in the ethical relationship, the decision of the University to terminate the coach indicates the seriousness with which they viewed this relationship. They determined that no matter how successful the coach, developing an intimate relationship with one of her players was wrong.

Read more here.

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Jan 05 2013

Rape Victims: Assessing the Damage to Heart and Soul

A new research study from the University of Texas at Austin “found significant negative consequences of rape and attempted sexual assault in 13 domains of psychological and social functioning, including self-esteem, social reputation, sexual desire and self-perceived mate value.”

To read more about the research study, click here.

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Jan 03 2013

Do we really support our troops?

I don’t always like the way Michael Moore presents his views, but this article is an excellent discussion of the way powerful elected leaders have senselessly entered/begun wars, Vietnam, Afganistan, and Iraq wrecking violence and death on civilians and our own troops. His main point, “if we really supported our troops” we would study the issues and not blindly follow leaders into war, especilally those like Bush, Cheney and others who used loopholes to avoid putting themselves in harms way during Vietnam.

To read this article, click this link:

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