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Safe-school conference held in Grantville - abc27 WHTM

Safe-school conference held in Grantville

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GRANTVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) -

The Center For Safe Schools held a safe school conference in Grantville Wednesday.

Keynote speaker Marleen Wong, Associate Dean and clinical professor at the University of Southern California, shared some of the lessons she has learned during her 30-year career.

Wong talked about not only preventing tragedies, but also helping children recover.

"There are certain symptoms that occur naturally among humans," she said. "Often they feel helpless to react to what has occurred. They may experience lack of sleep or interrupted thoughts. They could be preoccupied with images that they saw after a shooting or a tornado has occurred.

"Children in particular, because they don't have life experience, they are unable to regulate their emotions or behavior," Wong said. "They may not be able to put it in words, but we can see the changes in their behavior that tell us adults that they are suffering from post-traumatic stress."

Wong said they have already learned a lesson in recovery from the Columbine shootings and how the school handled things after the tragedy.

"I think what we learned is that the school was a place of open communication after this highly traumatic event," she said. "They did not close down, they did not try to forget about it. They talked about it and made sure students had someone to talk to. Columbine was really quite successful in maintaining their high level of student achievement both in terms of learning and grades and testing."

Wong was also key in developing readiness emergency management initiatives for schools, encouraging them to develop plans to deal with potential tragedies.

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