School Violence and Disasters
University of California, Davis
Stephen E. Brock
Lodi Unified School District, Lodi, CA
This chapter discusses two categories of hazardous events that lead to crisis responses in adults and children, and which most often come to mind when we think of crises in the school. We examine reactions to natural and man-made disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, and fires, and we discuss reactions to terrorist attacks or other acts of violence that may occur at school. We view such incidents as drive-by shootings, sniper attacks, and bombings as acts of terrorism. All of these events are likely to cause traumatic stress.
One feature that these two categories share with others is that they are typically sudden and unanticipated. Some exceptions are impending war, floods, and tornadoes and hurricanes where storm warnings can be delivered in anticipation. Earthquakes, fires, dam breaks, come with no warning. However, even with warnings, those involved often do not anticipate the severity of the event, and often discount the warning as only indicating a chance of personal involvement. Another similarity between disasters and terrorist attacks is that adults in the school as well as the children are affected. The teachers, administrators, and guidance staff would be equally traumatized by a schoolyard shooting or an airplane crashing into the school, for example. The normal caretakers in the school can be as traumatized as the children, and they too will need assistance in coping with the aftermath of the crisis. It is much more likely that outside crisis response assistance will be needed to help an entire community deal with disaster and mayhem associated with violence than with many of the crises described in this book.