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NASP Member Provides Congressional Testimony

Dr. Scott Poland, NASP Past President and the Coordinator of the Suicide and Violence Prevention Office at Nova Southeastern University, provided testimony to House of Representatives Subcommittees on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education and Healthy Families and Communities. The Joint Hearing on 7/8/09 was entitled: “Strengthening School Safety through Prevention of Bullying.”

An archived webcast of the hearing and the individual statements are available at http://edlabor.house.gov/hearings/2009/

Dr. Poland ’s testimony emphasized that many schools have become complacent about safety planning. He gave several examples of the lack of prioritization of safety and crisis planning by school administrators. School psychologists were cited as key personnel to serve on threat assessment teams that should be in place in every school.  The importance of building positive relationships with all students and the need to focus on the social and emotional well being of students were emphasized. Congress was asked to provide the same emphasis and scrutiny of school safety and students’ social and emotional well being that is currently required for academic performance.

Members of the panel, including high school students themselves, addressed the important role that students play in school safety and the need for student-directed bullying prevention programs in all schools. One of the witnesses at the hearing was Mrs. Sirdeaner Walker who talked about how the bullying at school contributed to the suicide of her eleven year old son, Carl, last April. Dr. Poland outlined the essential role that schools have for suicide prevention and that NASP has a Call to Action for Suicide Prevention.

Members of Congress asked many questions about topics such as parenting, media violence, zero tolerance, incarceration of juveniles, internet dangers, cyber-bullying, and the mental health needs of children.