It is hard to believe that 2017 is coming to an end in three weeks! Being an eternal optimist, I love to see each year end on a positive note; however, 2017 may disappoint me...sigh.
Looking back over this year, the United States (and many other countries for that fact) has seen its fair share of natural and human disasters. Here is a quick highlight of some of these US disasters over the last year.
2017 saw over 204 storms making it one of the top 10 busiest seasons in the Atlantic Basin. Many communities, such as Miami and Houston, experienced devastation and flooding.
Source: The Weather Channel
This year over 1,1 million acres have been burned in Northern and Southern California due to drought and windy conditions. 2017 is now considered as the second worst season in acres burned since 1987!
Acts of Terrorism
In 2017, there have been 10 violent acts of terrorism against US citizens from Florida to Las Vegas.
- 5 killed and 6 injured in a mass shooting at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport.
- Fatal shooting of Denver Transit Authority Guard.
- Stabbing attack in New York City.
- Shooting attack targeting Republican lawmakers (5 wounded).
- Vehicle attack of protestors (1 protestor killed).
- Church shooting in Tennessee (attacker killed).
- Shooting at concert in Las Vegas (59 concert goers killed and 527 injured).
- Attacker killed 8 when he drove into a bike path in New York City.
- Church shooting in Texas (27 killed and 30 wounded).
- Pipe bomb exploded injuring 3 people in New York City.
In 2017, there have been three school shootings. Here is a list of school shootings that have occurred this year.
North Park Elementary School, San Bernardino, California
Teacher killed by estranged husband and 2 students are wounded.
Freeman High School, Spokane, Washington
One student killed and 3 wounded by a Sophomore student.
Aztec High School, Aztec, New Mexico
After illegally trespassing on campus, a former student kills 2 students and then dies by suicide.
Role of the School Counselor During Disaster
Truly, 2017 was a year full of tragedy and confusion! Unfortunately, these types of events often have devastating impacts on our students and families. More than ever, school counselors need to be trauma informed experts.
Exactly what is a trauma informed expert? In 2016, ASCA created a position statement describing the role of the school counselor in promoting trauma sensitive environments in their school community.
Role of a Trauma Informed School Counselor
ASCA gives clear guidance on how to become a trauma informed school counselor.
• recognize the signs of trauma in students
• understand traumas need not predict individual failure if sufficient focus on resilience and strengths is present
• avoid practices that may re-traumatize students
• create connected communities and positive school climates that are trauma-sensitive to keep students healthy and in school and involved in positive social networks
• implement effective academic and behavioral practices, such as positive behavioral interventions and supports and social and emotional learning
• promote safe, stable and nurturing relationships
• provide community resource information to students and families dealing with trauma
• educate staff on the effects of trauma and how to refer students to the school counselor
• collaborate with community resources to provide support for students
• promote a trauma-sensitive framework for policies, procedures and behaviors to entire staff
• recognize the role technology can play in magnifying trauma incidents for students
What to know more about trauma informed practices? Check out the link for training from ASCA...
Also, want to do more for your community? Consider becoming as a Disaster Mental Health Volunteer with Red Cross. You will learn how to respond in a disaster, Psychological First Aid skills, and much more! I have served as a DMH Volunteer for two years!!
Resources for School Counselors
I feel that it is important for school counselors to have research based resources. If you need resources for your school, that has experienced a natural or human disaster, check out the list of resources below.
Coping with Trauma and Stress in the Face of Wildfires
Tips for Managing Stress After Wildfires
NCTSN: Talking to Students About Bombings
NCTSN: Terrorism Resources
Disaster Distress Helpline
Tips for Talking to Children and Youth After a Disaster
Helping Kids During a Crisis
School Crisis Guide
Trauma Resources for Teachers
Resources from For High School Counselors
School Shootings and the School Counselor
School Counselor Resources for Displaced Students
Trauma Informed Resources for School Counselors
Here is to a better 2018!!