Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Kids quick to bounce back from traumatic incidents




By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When a student fires a gun in school, often the people best able to overcome the resulting anxiety are the students themselves, a school safety expert said Monday.

        The reason: The same sense of invincibility that makes them prone to gun possession better enables them to move on.

        “Undoubtedly, it's going to have some impact on youngsters,” said Roger Effron, a visiting professor at Xavier University who heads up the school's Safe Schools Workshop. “But it's interesting that youngsters seemingly snap back quickly to terrible acts in schools. Often times it has more of an impact on the parents and staff.”

        Mr. Effron, who conducts gun-violence mock drills for school staffs locally, said almost all schools now have plans in place; and the best course for administrators is to address the students' questions head-on, but not prolong the sense of “crisis.”

        Mr. Effron was in education for 30 years, including time as principal of Aiken High School in the Cincinnati Public Schools. He says suburban schools are now as in- tune to potential violence as urban schools have had to be for years.

        He said the watershed moment when schools became more pro active in addressing gun possession in school was the April 1999 Columbine shootings in Littleton, Colo.

        “It's 100 percent better,” he said. “Much better, since Columbine.”

        The discharging of a weapon by a student at Mount Healthy North Junior High in Springfield Township is believed to be the first such incident of the school year.

        Last May, however, about 75 students were escorted out of Vail Middle School in Middletown after police received a call from someone who reported seeing a man with a gun entering the school's gym. Police found only two toy guns outside the school, no real ones inside.

        Earlier that month, a Franklin High School student was charged with having a loaded pistol in his car at the school. Police were called after school administrators received a tip from an anonymous parent.

       



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