Traumatic and violent incidents, either inside or beyond school boundaries, often distract school-aged children and teens from being able to focus on core subjects, and may adversely affect their academic achievement (www.nea.org). “Violence” and “trauma” are broad terms that include, but are not limited to, interpersonal and family violence (e.g., child abuse), school violence (e.g., youth gangs), Internet abuse (e.g., online sexual predators), natural or other disasters (e.g., Hurricane Katrina), and geopolitical incidents (e.g., terrorism). Violent incidents and traumatic experiences cut across all societal classes, occur in every ethnic, racial, and religious group, and happen in every school in America.
If students do not experience violence or trauma directly in school, they may be affected by emotional baggage from negative incidents in their personal lives, including occurrences in other parts of the United States or in other countries that may affect extended family members, and they will most likely carry their distress to school. For instance, extensive news coverage about Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the 2004 tsunami affected some New Jersey children directly who had loved ones in those affected areas. Other children without direct connection to people in the affected areas may also react to the extensive news coverage and worry if a similar outcome is possible for them.
Traumatic and violent incidents often have short-term and long-term consequences for students that may adversely impact their academic performance (Barr & Parrett, 2001). Students’ inability to cope effectively in school, either socially or academically, frequently manifests itself emotionally and reactions may be expressed through somatic complaints, nightmares, regression to a younger maturational stage, eating disorders, self-mutilation, lowered self-esteem, insecurity, sexual acting out, or drug abuse, among other reactions. This emotional toll may be expressed by inattention in school, cognitive confusion, and unhealthy coping skills such as school avoidance/truancy, emotional withdrawal, and aggressive behavior (Boyle, 2005) and may result in poor academic performance.
School specialists (i.e., school psychologists, school counselors, school social workers, crisis counselors, substance awareness coordinators (SACs), school nurses, student assistance counselors, and teachers) are the adults with the most contact with students, other than parents. They often confront the adverse effects of violence and trauma on students in school and must establish a plan for prevention and early intervention (Mascari, 2005). If they use effective prevention and intervention strategies to empower students to cope successfully with violence and trauma from the onset, they may reduce the chances that students will become “at risk” and they may enable students to perform to their academic potential while minimizing external distracters.
Currently, the overwhelming majority of school specialists have sufficient computer literacy to use the Internet’s web sites. Web sites have become a common option to seek information. Numerous helpful web sites are available for school specialists to use to assist students through emotionally distressing life events. Information from the web sites may be used to facilitate parent consultations about a student’s coping skills; incorporate violence prevention and intervention into the curriculum; establish peer mediation programs; organize effective student assemblies; and/or refer a student to another school specialist or community clinician (Murphy, DeEsch, & Strein, 1998). However, most school specialists may not commonly know about the existence of useful web sites.
When specific web site information is needed, a school specialist may wonder, “Can’t I just use a search engine to identify relevant web sites?” Using a search engine is one option available but search engine results may produce hundreds of web sites through which a school specialist must sift and waste valuable time in the midst of a crisis. A search engine will locate some appropriate sites but will also identify many commercial sites, irrelevant sites, and sites for adult victims. School specialists typically do not have the luxury of time, due to increases in caseloads and additional responsibilities, to conduct a time-consuming and cumbersome search. If helpful web sites are not readily available or commonly known, then are they really a resource? School specialists could benefit from the efficiency of accessing a collection of Internet resources that are readily available, age-appropriate, credible, and free or inexpensive when counseling or comforting students who have experienced traumatic or violent incidents.
A repository of approximately 150 credible web sites has been compiled for school specialists to assist students experiencing violence or trauma. I know of no repository to organize these relevant web sites. My objective is to compile and summarize the myriad of web sites and make them readily accessible to school specialists working with school-aged children. This Repository is a work-in-progress because it is impossible for one person to be aware of all valuable web sites. Recommendations of additional web sites would be greatly appreciated for the next edition of this Repository (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Collectively, the web sites may be used to instill healthy coping skills in students experiencing violence or trauma; promote awareness campaigns to change the school culture; and empower students and parents to become effective change agents in school, at home, and in their community. Sites are commonly used for psychoeducation, support groups, classroom instruction, and awareness campaigns offered through fact sheets, online libraries, multimedia presentations, technical assistance services, action kits, curriculum guides, online bookstores, PDF files, training opportunities, group activities, and online journals.
Mental health associations, professional organizations, universities, education associations, youth advocacy organizations, government agencies, and media organizations sponsor many web sites. Commercial web sites are not included. Although I sought to identify web sites for use primarily by school specialists, some sites have sections specific to parents/guardians and/or youth and some sites offer multilingual resources. The multilingual sites may be useful with large racially, ethnically, and/or linguistically diverse regions of the United States such as New Jersey and the tri-state area. Each entry includes the web site’s name, brief summary of its main features, and URL.
Web sites are cross-referenced by the following categories (for those that apply):
- Sites offering parenting resources
- Sites offering resources for youth and teens
- Multilingual sites
- Diversity sites
- Faith-based sites
- Sites offering multimedia material
Web sites are compiled as a service and for informational purposes. Inclusion in the repository should not be considered an endorsement. Users must evaluate web sites for their specific needs. Web sites are generally unreliable for longevity and consistency. They may expire or change the URL. Those web sites that address a specific trauma or incident (e.g., September 11, 2001) are often temporary and expire when no longer deemed timely by the sponsor while those that address general traumas (e.g., child abuse) are generally enduring. All URLs were updated during summer 2005.
Barr, R., & Parrett, W. (2001). Hope fulfilled for at-risk and violent youth: K-12
programs that work. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Boyle, D. J. (2005). Youth bullying: Incidence, impact, and interventions. New Jersey
Psychologist, 55(3), 22-24.
Mascari, J.B. (2005). The best laid plans: Will they work in a crisis? In J. Webber, D.
Bass, & R. Yep (Eds.), Terrorism, trauma, and tragedies: A counselor’s guide to
preparing and responding (pp. 65-77). Alexandria, VA: Amer. Counseling Assn.
Murphy, J., DeEsch, J., & Strein, W. (1998). School counselors and school
psychologists: Partners in student services. Professional School Counseling, 2(2),
National Education Association (www.nea.org).