Newsletter | Winter 2016

Ohio Suicide Prevention

Suicide is a major public health problem that causes damage to individuals, families and communities. It can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. The Ohio Department of Health tracks these statistics for our state. From 2012 to 2014, an average of 187 Ohio youths (ages 10-24) died by suicide each year. Educators throughout Ohio have reported feeling inadequately prepared to recognize, reach out and refer in situations of depression and suicidal behavior in their schools. House Bill 543, also known as the Jason Flatt Act, requires educators be knowledgeable about the signs and symptoms of depression and suicidal behavior among students and possess the skills to identify and refer if they suspect that these issues may personally impact a student.

State law requires educational professionals take at least four hours of training in the prevention of child abuse, violence and substance abuse and the promotion of positive youth development. This includes suicide prevention through the Safety and Violence Prevention training. Module Two of the Safety and Violence Prevention training provides educators with important information on the signs and symptoms of depression and suicide and offers suggestions for appropriately talking to students who may be experiencing depression first hand. Administrators should make sure all staff have taken the Safety and Violence Prevention training so they are able to recognize and reach out to students exhibiting signs of depression and suicide.

Ohio legislation, known as House Bill 28, also requires each state public institution of higher education to provide incoming students with information about mental health topics, including available depression and suicide prevention resources. This website was developed by a workgroup of professionals in evidence-based prevention programming to support Ohio's public colleges and universities in complying with this law.

To help schools refer students with signs of depression or suicide, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services has compiled resources about risk factors and to prevent, as well as respond to, instances within their communities. Resources include contacts for and a ranking of the crisis intervention effectiveness of various organizations available to assist with this topic in schools.  This information helps school administrators to better identify risk factors for suicide and inform their school communities of preventative measures.

You can find more information on identifying risk factors by clicking here. Many of the organizations discussed on this Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services webpage also provide resources you can share with your students and school communities. Additionally, it includes crisis intervention numbers an at-risk individual can call or text in a time of need.

Finally, for more locally focused and ongoing support, please click here to find behavioral health boards in your area. Initiating a relationship with these county-based ADAMH boards can provide ongoing assistance in navigating mental health issues in your school.

And, as always, please call the Center for P-20 Safety and Security at (614) 644-2641 with any questions or concerns.

 

National Bullying Prevention

To ensure safe and supportive learning environments for Ohio’s students, Ohio Revised Code 3313.666 requires all school districts that receive federal funding have a policy prohibiting student-to-student incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying in Ohio schools. Ohio’s Anti-Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) model policy defines harassment, intimidation or bullying as any intentional written, verbal, graphic or physical act that a student or group of students exhibit toward other particular student more than once with the behavior causing mental or physical harm to the other student; is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment for the other student, including violence within a dating relationship; and an act committed through electronic means including the use of a cellular telephone, computer, pager, personal communication device or other electronic communication device.

Guidance for implementing Ohio’s Anti-Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying policy offers school staff, community partners and parents steps for identifying, investigating and intervening in bullying behavior. 

The Ohio Department of Education does not decide student discipline or interventions in bullying incidents. These are local decisions. The Department’s Center for P-20 Safety and Security provides information and resources to assist the local school board and the district superintendent in this work. Visit Ohio’s Anti-Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Resource page for a variety of bullying prevention resources for schools, families and communities.

 

To create safe and supportive teaching and learning environments, school administrators must have a local Anti-HIB policy to:

  1. Make bullying prevention and intervention a priority in your school;
  2. Use an existing group like the Wellness or Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports team to support and coordinate bullying prevention practices;
  3. Allow the group to lead a discussion with students, parents and staff to understand the extent of bullying at school, school-sponsored events and in transit to and from school;
  4. Discuss how your school identifies and addresses bullying behavior and
  5. Train all staff who interact with students in bullying prevention practices.

The practices mentioned above will help members of the school community take action against bullying, use data to tailor bullying prevention strategies and measure progress in reducing bullying behavior.

 

Ohio's 2016 Safe and Violence-Free Schools Conference

The Center for P-20 Safety and Security hosted Ohio’s 2016 Safe and Violence-Free Schools Conference with the theme of School and Community Partnerships: What’s Working to Reduce Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Sept. 19 in Columbus.

The goals of the conference were to:

  1. Offer a strength-based, asset-development approach for creating safe and violence-free schools;
  2. Provide tools for systems change to create safe and violence-free schools;
  3. Use strategic planning activities for participants to identify critical needs, partners and processes to create local safe and violence-free schools; and
  4. Inform the use of partnerships to create safe and violence-free schools.   

     

More than 150 participants learned about tools to create Safe and Violence-Free Schools. For conference presentations and resources on comprehensive strategies for creating conditions for school safety and school climate that keep students safe, visit Ohio's Safe & Violence Free Schools Conference webpage.

Left to Right: Maylin Sanchez, Reyka Van Sickle, Stephanie Christie, and Jill Jackson.

Ohio Department of Homeland Security – Bomb Threat Assessment Guidance

 

With the recent increase in bomb threats to schools, administrators may be wondering how to better evaluate threats they encounter. All threats should be carefully evaluated, and schools should maintain close relationships with their local law enforcement. One must consider the facts and the context, and then conclude whether there is a possible threat. The FBI and Ohio Department of Homeland Security have created an evaluation protocol in an at-a-glance bomb threat guide available here.

Excerpt from Department of Homeland Security Department of Justice Bomb Threat Guidance Brochure 2015 

New Emergency Contact Information Sheet on SaferSchools.Ohio.gov

In an effort to streamline the school emergency management plan development and maintenance process, we have updated our emergency contact template document on SaferSchools.Ohio.gov.  While this document is one of the four documents required for compliance with Ohio Revised Code 3313.536, this change will not affect emergency plans that are currently submitted or compliant.

The change in document language will allow schools to store their emergency plans in hardcopy or electronic form, giving schools more flexibility in disseminating their plans to first responders and other stakeholders.  If you are beginning to develop or revise your emergency plans, please use the new document template from our webpage.  If your plans are currently compliant or submitted and you wish to revise your emergency management contact sheet, you may do so.  Simply revise the existing emergency contact information and upload it; if your school’s current status is compliant, you should see no change.

Remember to include your IT Security professionals when choosing to store or share your emergency management plan electronically.  If you have any questions or concerns, please call the Center for P-20 Safety and Security at 614-644-2641.