NASP Member Provides Congressional Testimony
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
archived webcast of the hearing and the individual statements are available at http://edlabor.house.gov/hearings/2009/
’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.
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.
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.