"Safe Schools, Safe Students" conference kicked off in Albany
The "Safe Schools, Safe Students" conference kicked off this weekend in Albany. Our Karen Tararache was there to learn about the steps schools and law enforcement across the state are taking to prevent tragedies, like the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.
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ALBANY, N.Y.-- "After Newtown, we were all heartbroken over what happened there; and, we'll never get over it," said retired teacher, Regina Rose.
There was a time when they were just called simply, Virginia Tech, Columbine High School and Sandy Hook Elementary. Now, it’s hard for some not to remember the massacres and tragedies attached to those schools.
Tim Kremer, executive director for New York State School Boards Association, said, "What do we do in a crisis and how do the parents and the school community work together?"
Representatives from 700 boards of education across New York State gathered in Albany to discuss school safety and understand how law enforcement operates in emergencies.
"Parents pretty much want those answers. Well, what are you gonna do if something happens? We have a plan. Well, what's the plan? We can't tell you what the plan is, but we have a plan and it’s a very good plan," explained Chris Hamil, the school safety liaison for the Poughkeepsie Police Department.
One method for avoiding tragedies in schools discussed at Saturday's conference, the "See something, say something," approach.
Sergeant Renise Holohan, explained, "It's not necessarily for just our worst case scenario, we've used some of these threat assessment tools to uncover eating disorders, suicidal students, things that are happening, which are more common in the school."
The Program in Education, Afterschool, and Resiliency (PEAR) Founder, Dr. Gil Noam added, "Parents who are empathic with their kids, who know their kids and talk to their kids, they will see signs, like sadness, crying, fearfulness, anger outbursts, all of those things are early signs. They shouldn't lead for parents to seek out mental health services, but they should keep an eye on it."
Regina Rose said, "We all have a duty to make sure we're doing everything we can to help those kids who get so mentally disturbed that they'll do something like that and to protect the children in our buildings."