Building school resilience in an era of multiple threats
Van Sparrentak, Kenneth J.
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There is a lack of attention towards the process of recovery in U.S. schools despite their vulnerability to natural and intentional threats with the potential of creating mass casualties. By promoting resilience as a component of recovery as similarly modeled in Israel and the UK, the U.S. can empower children and the at-large community, enabling a quicker recovery. Case studies from past mass casualty incidents from a variety of threat mechanisms involving schools were analyzed to assess (1) time criticality, (2) lack of information sharing, (3) family reunification, (4) lockdown considerations, and (5) first responder considerations. Regardless of threat mechanism, most variables will factor in a school's ability to recover, including the reality that the longer the exposure to the trauma, the greater the psychosocial impact and greater difficulty in recovery. School administrators and first responders, primarily from public health and law enforcement, should collaborate on efforts in the pre-event phase to mitigate both physical and psychological impacts from trauma. The success of fire prevention education has promoted resilience for decades. Similar strategies should focus on all hazards and the term "resilience" should become a natural term in the American lexicon.
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