There are two kinds of
who have had a crisis....
those who will.
Stress Debriefing for School Employees
By Dr. Nancy Blackwelder
employees can incur debilitating emotional damage from
trauma associated with school violence. "The trauma to
the victims of violent crime often invokes an emotional
response in excess of grief and closely resembling
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (Bixler, 1985, p. 3)."
The stress is exacerbated by the necessity of the
victims to return to the scene of the crime each day and
the tendency to deny themselves the natural human
responses to stress in an effort to care for the
Emergency service professionals have incorporated
Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) programs and
indicate worker burnout and workman's compensation
claims decreased as a direct result.
The purpose of this investigation
was to describe, compare, contrast, and evaluate crisis
intervention procedures provided for employees of three
school districts where a critical incident occurred.
A case study design included participant interviews,
questionnaires and an analysis of public documents.
Each district's crisis intervention plan is described,
compared to emergency service CISM programs, and
evaluated in terms of perceptions of the effectiveness
of care provided.
This study addressed the following questions:
What was the nature of the crisis intervention for
How did the provisions for employee crisis intervention
compare and contrast with those provided by emergency
What was the perceived effectiveness in caring for the
emotional and psychological needs of the staff involved
in the crisis and what component (s) of the plan
contributed to that perception?
Results indicated that employees were greatly affected,
exhibiting symptoms of critical incident stress and
posttraumatic stress months and years post-incident.
There was a significant difference in the average number
of symptoms respondents experienced according to their
proximity to the incident and there was a significant
difference in the average number of symptoms experienced
according to the nature of the incident. There were
services provided to staff members that were perceived
as effective and largely an absence of services that
contributed to a perception of ineffectiveness.
recommended that school districts develop a Critical
Incident Stress Management program for employees.