FEELING SAFE IN SCHOOL - A shortened version of this paper...

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A shortened version of this paper appeared in Smith College Studies in Social Work 2002, 72(2), 303-326. FEELING SAFE IN SCHOOL* By Stuart W. Twemlow, M.D. 1 Peter Fonagy, Ph.D; FBA 2 Frank C. Sacco, Ph.D. 3 1. Director, Erik Erikson Institute for Research & Education, The Austen Riggs Center, Stockbridge, Massachusetts; Co-director of the Peaceful Schools Project, Child & Family Center, The Menninger Clinic, Topeka, Kansas; Clinical Professor of Psychiatry University of Kansas School of Medicine, Wichita, Kansas and faculty Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Consultant to the FBI Critical Incident Response Group on School Shootings. 2. Director, Child and Family Center and Clinical Protocols and Outcomes Center, The Menninger Clinic, Topeka, Kansas, Freud Memorial Professor of Psychoanalysis, UCL, London, England, Director of Research, The Anna Freud Centre, London, England. 3. President, Community Services Institute, Springfield, Massachusetts. * Invited lecture to the Smith College School of Social Work, June 11, 2001 * Research support by the Erikson Institute for Education and Research, the Austen Riggs Center, Stockbridge, MA, and the Child and Family Center, Menninger Clinic, Topeka, Kansas
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“Video meleora proboque; deteriora sequor – like all other human beings, I know what I ought to do, but I continue to do what I know I ought not to do.” Aldous Huxley, Eyeless In Gaza As Aldous Huxley observed, and psychoanalysts have known for a long time, if it was merely a matter of knowing what to do for most human problems, a majority of mental health workers would be out of business rather quickly. The real question is why we don’t do it. Driven by the search for the quick fix, our culture has an insatiable appetite for programs that promise such “ a fix,” and there are plenty of them. Such programs often deceive people into thinking the task of psychological change is easy; just follow the formula. The equivalent in schools are simple curriculum add-ons that imply that it’s just a matter of teaching nonviolent attitudes. The Smith College Studies in Social Work, in March 2001, published a set of papers that addressed directly the matter of safety in schools. The dilemma is highlighted in the title of the editorial, “building fortresses” or instead “opening the doors to the community.” Many school programs are structured as a curriculum add-on or a set of prescriptions reinforcing security. Dealing with the underlying resistances to making antiviolence programs work, has not received much attention in the literature. Addressing such resistances and providing skills that address psychological needs that interfere with the way all people in the school relate to each other including: the children, teachers, school administrators, custodians, secretaries, lunchroom staff, paraprofessionals, teacher aids, substitute teachers, parents as teachers is a potentially useful contribution possible from those with a psychodynamic background and experience. Such learning is
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FEELING SAFE IN SCHOOL - A shortened version of this paper...

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