County ahead of game in school safety
Kim Fullove, director of Adams County Safe Schools Health Students (SSHS) feels good these days that some assistance that the SSHS initiative latched on to several years ago has the potential to at least provide a safety net in county schools compared to what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.
“I feel good because Adams County is ahead of the game,” said Fullove. “Safe Schools provides the kind of services that are needed. It’s the kind of thing that kids involved in the shootings need.”
One program that is available through Adams Central and South Adams Schools is the “Life Matters” initiative, which allows students with need to be counseled in school, during school hours, rather than being transported to some type of counseling facility.
“If there is a student struggling with an issue that would benefit from counseling services, they contact their parents and make a referral to Life Matters,” said Fullove. “It is up to the parent to make that contact. All services are provided on site in school. No one has to work through transportation issues or anything.”
Fullove assured that even though Life Matters is associated with Youth for Christ, there is no agenda to push religious issues with those providing the services.
“It has been really effective, it is much needed,” said Fullove.
Fullove said that reports her agency has been getting from therapists at Adams County Behavioral Health and Park Center indicate that they are surprised at the severity of the need that is out there.
“The needs of students are even worse than they expected,” said Fullove.
Fullove said that county officials are doing all that they can to remove any stigmas about receiving mental or emotional support. She noted that indications are that Life Matters, which is extremely private, has removed some of that.
Fullove said that schools and community partners are working hard to prevent school violence and promote healthy environments in county schools and communities through the SSHS program. She noted that the initiative is federally funded and began in 1999 as an unprecedented approach that strives to build a brighter future for children and youth by creating safer schools, reducing violence and substance abuse and increasing social-emotional, behavioral and mental health supports.
“People are starting to get more open to using the services,” said Fullove. “This is all very confidential. They are very careful about private spaces and being protective of the situation.”
Fullove said that all therapists are thoroughly trained; if they run across a student whose needs are beyond what they can provide, they will make a referral to someone better equipped to deal with the student.
“Another important component of our schools in the county is the school resources officer,” said Fullove. “There used to be one officer for all of the schools combined, now each school has its own officer. That officer has an opportunity to build relationships with the students.”
Fullove noted that she is very pleased with the trust between students and teachers in county schools. She noted that if something is going on, students can go tell the officer or a trusted teacher.
“Sometimes there are situations where parents may feel that they have been violated in some way. Having a resource officer there often helps with that,” said Fullove.
“There are a variety of benefits to having police officers in the building,” continued Fullove. “It helps with school fighting; bullying is reduced somewhat.”
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