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Newtown School Shooting Anniversary: Crisis Prevention Expert Andra Medea Offers Tips to Prevent School Tragedies in new book, “Safe Within These Walls”

December 3, 2013

CHICAGO, Dec. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — As the anniversary of the school shootings at Newtown approaches, principals, teachers, parents and children can make their schools safer when they follow the practical tips in “Safe Within These Walls: De-escalating School Situations Before They Become Crises,” a new crisis intervention book published by Capstone Professional in the U.S., and Oxford University Press in Canada.

“Once the SWAT team arrives, the odds are much lower that everyone will walk away from this,” she said. “The best time to stop aggression and violence is before it starts. This was never more true than now. School crisis prevention is by far the best solution,” said author Andra Medea, who developed “The Virtual Tranquilizer,” a technique used to de-escalate crises that has been adapted for psychiatric staff, child welfare workers, the American Bar Association and the National Guard.

She is available for media interviews by calling 773-561-1512.

“Violent incidents can be prevented,” said Medea who has taught conflict management at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

“As we mark the one year anniversary of the Newtown shootings, there have been too many additional tragic stories of violence in schools. All of us–parents, teachers, principals and school staff–want to keep our schools safe from violence,” said Medea, who conducts workshops on crisis intervention in schools for principals, teachers, staff, parents and students.

“School violence seems shocking and unpredictable. Yet one study showed that in 80% of school shootings someone saw warnings prior to the incident,” she said.

“In my work preventing violence with the mentally ill, I found that incidents often brewed for quite some time before they exploded into violence. And there was often someone who noticed violence brewing. They’d see something disturbing and talk it over with their friends. But then, still uneasy and unsure what to do, they stopped and did nothing at all,” she said. “If you see something, say something.”

The useful school safety book answers such questions as:

    --  What is a teacher to do when angry kids disrupt the class?
    --  How does adrenaline fuel aggression, and how to work around it?
    --  Which activities reach angry kids?
    --  Non-verbal cues that quiet aggression
    --  How can teachers or parents time their intervention, to work smarter,
        not harder?

Here are key tips from the school crisis intervention book:

    --  There's often a window of opportunity to prevent a crises. In many cases
        of school violence there is often a significant period of time,
        sometimes years, as the situation built. The problem wasn't that there
        was no way to stop the crisis. There was a window of opportunity to act,
        but it passed unseen.
    --  Warning signs may be puzzling. Often people didn't report telltale signs
        because they were odd or perplexing. It may be sly jokes about
        firebombs, or a kid laughing about taking someone out. The comments may
        feel peculiar, disturbing, or a little strange.
    --  Talk to someone in authority. Don't stop until you reach someone with
        the ability to intervene or get to the bottom of things.
    --  Listen. Because signs may be unclear, a kid may come to you uneasy,
        half-wanting to talk: "What would you do if someone told you something
        weird?" Stop what you're doing and listen. That weird may be important.
    --  Finally, remove the means of attack. Brewing attacks are often fixated
        on a particular method: a rifle, a bomb, a straight-edge razor. Whatever
        it is, remove it or get it under lock and key. Act first. Finish
        puzzling later.

“If a young person is acting in a disturbing way, remove the source of temptation. If they are constructing a plan of attack, interrupt the plan and remove the key components,” she said.

Violence is often planned. But before a crisis actually erupts, we have many different options: we can disarm the kid, get the kid to counseling, or have a professional intervene in a timely, safe fashion. But once violence starts, options disappear.

To learn more, follow Andra Medea on twitter @_AMedea, or join the discussion on Facebook at Safe Within These Walls.

About Andra Medea

Andra Medea, M.A., is the author of “Safe Within These Walls: De-escalating School Situations Before They Become Crises.” She has designed de-escalation programs for psychiatric staff, child welfare workers, and judges, among others. Her clients include the Children’s Home and Aid Society, the American Bar Association, the Illinois National Guard, and the Illinois Co-Occurring Center for Excellence. She has taught conflict management at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, and is the developer of the Virtual Tranquilizer.

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Source: PR Newswire