School nurses essential in design and implementation of school safety programs

1. While several types of school safety programs have been adopted by academic institutions in the United States, there is currently little evidence to support their effectiveness.

2. As experts in both emergency trauma care and mental health outcomes following traumatic gun violence, nurses are key players in the effort to create multidisciplinary solutions that will ensure the safety of children across the nation.

Study Rundown: Nearly 240 school shootings have occurred across the United States in the past decade. As a result, children account for roughly 25% of mass shooting victims, and over half of teenagers surveyed state that they worry about a shooting occurring at their school. In light of this widespread fear, administrations have invested heavily in school safety programs. While some programs such as Safe and Sound and I Love You Guys focus on lockdown technique and support systems, others such as ALICE promote an offensive framework to deter an active shooter. These hyper-realistic drills do not have empirically supported results and have faced criticism for inducing stress and further perpetuating fear rather than instilling confidence. An alternative approach is to equip adults with adequate emergency preparedness response training. Nurses, as adults who remain impartial to students’ academic performance, are often the first line of defense against mental, emotional, and psychological issues that may arise in daily life or after a traumatic event. As workers at the intersection of healthcare and education, nurses are poised to enact real change not only within the schools in which they work but also in the political sphere. Shifting the focus from response to prevention through the implementation of relevant legislation may prove to be a more effective solution to this public health crisis.

Click to read the study in Current Trauma Reports

Image: PD

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