How was the effort to bring the students back to normal life?
On Thursday (day of the event), Friday and Monday, a police crisis response worked with the school to provide primary care. On Monday, our counseling methodologists, plus a psychologist and I started school. We worked with the two most endangered classes.
What is it about?
First of all, about the graduation class, which is located opposite the office where the tragedy occurred. Several students saw the drama, one saw the killer in the toilet. The other part of the colleagues then worked with the class where the boy went and there is also his twin brother. Work with this class continued on Tuesday afternoon.
What exactly was working with the students like?
About fifteen boys were seated in a circle, the therapists facing each other. It was not in the form of coercion, giving room for individuals to express themselves. I’m happy for them, they shared their concerns, it worked for them and the group dynamic was great.
What did the students describe?
They described to us that they were in a sort of trance. They didn’t understand what was going on, some were crying, they needed to vent the adrenaline. None of them had foreseen this situation. Whether they reacted with tears, anger, shouting, or went clubbing, they were reassured that each of us reacted differently and that their reaction was okay if not aggressive.
One of the students woke up at night and wrote a story about his feelings. For some, the reaction may appear in a month or six months.
The students wanted to change class because it kept coming back to them and they were afraid to enter it.
What are their concerns?
It is very difficult for graduates to experience such a traumatic event before exams. The school is not a problem, on the contrary, it was ready to meet their needs. Maybe they wanted to change classrooms because it kept coming back to them and they were afraid to enter.
The school management reacted very well by quickly moving the classroom to another floor. The students also feared how they would pass the graduation exam when the professor was supposed to test it. They had prepared for tutoring and classification, but even then the school reacted very flexibly and a new teacher is due to start this week, who should be with them on this. But it is certainly not a closed chapter for us, we will continue to work with them, but not on a daily basis.
What impact does this have on teachers?
This is an exceptional situation for them. They have lost a colleague, some a friend. On Monday, we worked with the faculty on a voluntary basis. Surprisingly, there were enough vocational masters who cared a lot about the mental health of students that, for example, graduates could complete the graduation year. We will be there after Easter and will report to them and the school management on our findings.
The mugger’s brother was at school on Tuesday, and I have to say, he got there
Did you give the offender’s brother special care?
He was at school on Tuesday, and I have to say he got there. I managed to get him to contact free crisis intervention with a date when they should contact them, and he will receive one-to-one, long-term counselling.
Do you work with the wife of a deceased teacher?
He is in expert custody. She was not at school on Monday or Tuesday, but the school administration is in contact with her.
What helps students to better handle the problem?
Talk about that. Communicate information and experiences. Air it out and don’t theorize. Many of them have fantasies about how to prevent it, why it happened. But it must be taken as an unforeseeable fact. When this is not communicated, all of these things are stored in our subconscious and, unfortunately, they emerge in another crisis.
Some experts draw attention to the growing aggressiveness of young people. Do you notice it too?
It’s not just about school, it’s about working with the family system. Unfortunately, there is a lot of parental influence because the teaching profession has found itself on the margins of society. Many of them swear at the teachers, the children hear it and pass it on to the school. Of course, it’s not all children. Two years of covid and social isolation certainly had a big influence on that.
In high school, I perceive the most difficult second, third year students who were at home at that time. The teams don’t know each other, they don’t know the teachers, they don’t know how to react to certain things at school. They are now in a phase of lethargy, when they have nothing left to catch. Someone has verbal aggression as a sign of coping with something in life.
What can you do?
It is possible to strengthen teams of psychologists in schools, to talk to children, to learn to communicate well, and to do so within the school education system, which should focus on the mental health of children.