During our most recent Mentor Academy, the topic was dealing with difficult issues. One of the questions asked by a mentor was related to talking to mentees about the school shooting if they bring it up.
Undoubtedly, our students have seen the disturbing news regarding the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Our thoughts go out to the students and their families, school staff and the community of Parkland. Since this terrible situation is attracting significant news coverage, we thought it was important to provide you with information on the ongoing efforts of Lincoln Public Schools to keep students safe. In addition, we have included some suggestions that may be helpful in talking with your mentee about this traumatic event.
Student safety continues to be our school district’s top priority and we have many procedures and systems in place. Many of the systems have been in place for decades, however, we also continue to review and improve them each year. Our system of safety measures includes but is not limited to:
- Practicing regular drills to prepare for a wide range of emergencies, including active shooters.
- Adding security cameras at all our high schools.
- Developing a solid Threat Assessment/Management Program at LPS. More information here:
- Establishing Standard Response Protocol (plain language protocol for emergency situations). More information here:
- Ensuring crisis response plans at each school.
- Partnering with local law enforcement and safety experts.
Some of these practices are required by federal and state laws, many are school level practices based on school-specific research and some are best practices developed through lessons learned from events like the one in Florida. We work closely with the LPS security team and the Lincoln Police Department to continuously evaluate our safety protocols and to practice with our staff and students in the event of an emergency.
Mentors can play an important role in communicating and reinforcing school safety procedures with their mentees. Mentors can also reinforce with their mentees that if they see something that doesn’t look right or hear something that doesn’t sound right, please tell a trusted adult at school or home.
We also understand that your mentee may have feelings about this event. Please remember that there is no single way to express fear or confusion – many different reactions are possible and normal. It is unique to each individual in each circumstance. Adults, through their calm and reassuring behavior, can help young people keep challenging experiences in perspective. We suggest you listen to your students, and deal honestly and directly with their questions.
As the resilient young people in Parkland have demonstrated, these emotions can also stem from feeling like things are out of control and unpredictable. Try identifying safe places in different settings in the building or suggest becoming more active in the democratic process. One way to do this is writing to their congressman or other elected official about how this event has effected them and what they would like done about it.
We work together at Lincoln Public Schools to provide the safest and most productive learning environment possible in all our buildings. Everyone at LPS is working hard to ensure student safety and provide support for students.
Please feel free to contact us with comments or concerns.