Student Health and Wellness
Your local access to information and resources that support your student's behavioral health and wellness so that they can be successful in their academic environment.
Over the next few weeks, in recognition of Bullying prevention awareness month, students on the elementary campus will be adding "feathers" to Olly by writing statements about what makes them special and different from others. Check back soon for an updated Olly with lots of beautiful feathers!
What is Student Health and Wellness?
Student Health and Wellness is a variety of supports provided to students to assist them in being successful in their academic environment. Additional supports are provided in the form of staff training, resources for parents, consultation with specific cases, education in the areas of suicide and bullying prevention, and engagement in programs that aim to assist students in making good choices. Majority of the supports provided under Student Health and Wellness are overseen by the division's Student Assistance Program Specialist.
Student Assistance Program Specialist, Ida Abrahamson is Northern Virginia native and has been with MPCS since 2015. She holds a Master's in Social Work and is the Program Coordinator for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Ms. Abrahamson works with students, staff, and families K-12 to provide further education and awareness in the areas of behavioral wellness.
Programs and Supports
This innovative system allows any Manassas Park community member to submit a tip about a bullying concern, a safety issue, or a general tip. Anyone can submit a tip using any of the four following ways: via text, web, email, or phone. When submitting a tip via web, email, or phone, you will have the option to choose a location to which the tip is referring. When a tip is submitted via text, the option to choose a location is not available. Be sure to list the location in the text so school staff can most effectively address the tip. The option to remain anonymous is always available. However, the more information that is provided, the better school staff can address the tip.
Another unique feature of Safe Schools Alert is the tracking system made available to those submitting tips. Once a tip is submitted via text, phone, or web, a tracking code will be provided. You can then input your tracking code into a box on MPCS's Safe Schools Alert homepage and monitor the status of your tip. There is also an option for school staff to communicate with the tip submitter via messages through the tracking system. This feature can be highly beneficial if the tip submitter chooses to remain anonymous. Be sure to use this great system we have so that we can all help keep Manassas Park City Schools safe!
The Virginia Department of Education recognizes two types of risk assessments schools are responsible for when a student presents with a risk of harm to themselves or others: Suicide Risk Assessment and Threat Assessments.
Suicide Prevention and Suicide Risk Assessment
The Virginia Department of Education considers youth suicide a significant problem which recently has received much attention. With the recent advances in understanding of the causative factors and the parameters of the problem along with the identification of effective intervention strategies, parents and professionals are now able to implement measures that can reduce rates of suicidal behavior in children and youth.
Prevention and awareness are the key factors in helping youth address feelings of anxiety, depression, perfectionism, peer pressure, and other commonly experienced challenges youth face. MPCS is dedicated to providing staff, students, and families with the proper education, awareness, and resources to address this serious youth epidemic.
Below you will find a host of suicide prevention resources, including hotlines, parent information, local and national organizations' web sites, and Virginia Department of Education guides.
Current Suicide Prevention Programs In Our SchoolsSigns of Suicide (SOS) is a secondary school-based suicide prevention program that includes screening and education. Students are screened for depression and suicide risk and referred for professional help as indicated. Students also view a video that teaches them to recognize signs of depression and suicide in themselves and others. They are taught that the appropriate response to these signs is to use the ACT technique: acknowledge that there is a problem, let the person know you care, and tell a trusted adult. Students also participate in guided classroom discussions about suicide and depression. The program attempts to prevent suicide attempts, increase knowledge about suicide and depression, develop desirable attitudes toward suicide and depression, and increase help-seeking behavior among youth.
Suicide Prevention Resources
- Action in Community Through Service 703-368-4141
- Alternative House 1-800-SAY-TEEN
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Press 2 for Spanish
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration-National Helpline 1-800-622-HELP or 1-800-799-4889
- Treatment Advocacy Center 1-800-SUICIDE
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- Child Trauma Grief Resource List
- Fairfax Partnership for Youth
- Helping Teens with Traumatic Grief
- Hope Phone (Spanish)
- The National Center for Grieving Children and Families (The Dougy Center)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Spanish)
- Prince William County Community Service
- Suicide Prevention Alliance of Northern Virginia
- Suicide Prevention Brochure (Spanish)
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center (Spanish)
- Virginia Department of Health Suicide Prevention Directory
- Virginia Suicide Prevention Coalition
Threat assessment is a behavioral approach to violence prevention that focuses on threats and other forms of student conflict before they escalate into violent behavior. The threat assessment team uses a problem solving team approach to evaluate the risk of violence posed by someone and to intervene and resolve the issues that underlie the threatening behavior.
MPCS uses the Virginia Student Threat Assessment Guidelines, an evidence-based model developed by Dr. Dewey Cornell and colleagues at the University of Virginia. These guidelines were published in the Guidelines for Responding to Student Threats of Violence manual and have been widely adopted by schools in Virginia and other states (second edition, 2016).
Questions and Answers
Is threat assessment required?
Yes. MPCS has been implementing threat assessments since 2006; however, more recently Virginia legislation (§ 22.1-79.4) was passed in 2013 requiring “Each local school board shall adopt policies for the establishment of threat assessment teams, including the assessment of and intervention with students whose behavior may pose a threat to the safety of school staff or students consistent with the model policies developed by the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety…Each division superintendent shall establish, for each school, a threat assessment team that shall include persons with expertise in counseling, instruction, school administration, and law enforcement.”Who is on the Threat Assessment Team?
Each school team is comprised of a school administrator, counselor, psychologist and/or social worker. Also, other school staff including a school safety and security specialist and School Resource Officer may be involved in the team process at the principal’s discretion.What happens during a threat assessment?
The threat assessment model follows three basic steps: identifying a threat, assessing a threat, and responding to a threat. In the first step, a school administrator such as the principal or assistant principal investigates a reported threat and determines whether the threat can be readily resolved as a minor or "transient" threat. Examples of transient threats are jokes or statements made in anger that are expressions of feeling or figures of speech rather than expressions of a genuine intent to harm someone.
Any threat that cannot be clearly identified and resolved as transient or contains indicators that expresses a sustained intent to harm someone beyond the immediate incident when the threat was made is treated as a "substantive" threat. Substantive threats always require protective action to prevent the threat from being carried out.
The remaining steps guide the team through more extensive assessment and response based on the seriousness of the threat. In the most serious cases, the team conducts a safety evaluation that includes both law enforcement involvement and a mental health assessment of the student and develops a safety plan that is designed to address the problem or conflict underlying the threat and prevent the act of violence from taking place. For both transient and substantive threats, there is an emphasis on helping students to resolve conflicts and minimizing the use of suspension as a disciplinary response.
The Virginia Department of Education recognizes that public schools are in a unique position to educate children and adolescents about the presence, danger, and negative consequences of bullying. Schools can also teach behaviors that will protect students from the harmful effects of bullying.
Bullying has been linked to negative outcomes for students who are its victims, for bystanders, and for students who are bullies themselves. Bullying negatively affects school climate. Bullying also has negative impacts on learning, health, behavior and school outcomes.
Bullying Defined by VDOE & Adopted by MPCS School Board“Bullying means any aggressive and unwanted behavior that is intended to harm, intimidate, or humiliate the victim; involves a real or perceived power imbalance between the aggressor or aggressors and victim; and is repeated over time or causes severe emotional trauma. ‘Bullying’ includes cyber bullying.” Bullying does not include ordinary teasing, horseplay, argument, or peer conflict.
Bullying means systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on another person. Bullying involves physical and emotional behaviors that are intentional, controlling, and hurtful, thus creating harassing, intimidating, hostile or otherwise offensive educational environments. Bullying behaviors include unwanted and repeated written, verbal, or physical behavior, including any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, by a student or adult, that is severe or pervasive enough to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment; cause discomfort or humiliation; or unreasonably interfere with an individual’s school performance or participation; or creates a disruption in the educational environment.
- Guidelines for the Prevention of Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying in Manassas Park City Schools
Bullying Prevention Resources
- Center for Disease and Control
- Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER)
Olweus Bullying Prevention Program
The elementary campus has entered their 2nd year of implementing Olweus in our elementary schools. "Do you give a hoot" is the catchphrase you will hear and see all over the elementary schools. We are also welcoming the new mascot for Olweus, Olly the Owl!
Research shows that bystanders play the biggest role in bullying prevention. Olweus foundation is built on teaching students to stand up for each other and be an advocate for those who can't. Encourage your students to "Give a hoot!".
- Parent Handout (ENG and SPA)
- Tips for Parents: What to Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied
- Consejos para los Padres: Qué Hacer si su Hijo o Hija es Objeto de la Intimidación y del Abuso por Parte de Otros Estudiantes
- Tips for Parents: What to Do If Your Child Bullies Others
- Consejos para los Padres: Qué Hacer si su Hijo o Hija Intimida y Abusa de los Demás
- Tips for Parents: What to Do If Your Child Witnesses Bullying
- Consejos para los Padres: Qué Hacer si su Hijo o Hija es Testigo de Actos de Intimidación y Abuso
Capturing Kids' Hearts
Capturing Kids Hearts is a prevention program that was implemented at Manassas Park Middle School and Manassas Park High School. The program is designed to be utilized by both students and teachers in order to “capture one’s heart.” The program consists of students and teachers holding themselves and others accountable for negative and positive social interactions within their educational environment. This research-based program is dynamic, skill-driven, and a highly participatory experience.
To read more about Capturing Kids Hearts, visit their website or ask your children!
Leaders In Training (LIT)
Manassas Park Middle School works with Manassas Park Community Center to operate the Leaders In Training program. It is a grant funded program operated by Manassas Park Community Center with the support of MPCS's Student Assistance Program Specialist. We identified that a missing piece of LIT was the school and community connection. In Ms. Abrahamson's position she is able to work in conjunction with community staff to bridge the possible gap between community activities and the school environment. LIT also provides another opportunity for an adult that is connected to MPCS to interact and build connections that can further support the students in school.