Keeping our schools safe: maintaining the health and well-being of our students
CASTLE ROCK— The health and well-being of students is key to maintaining a productive and safe learning environment. In partnership with our schools and community, Douglas County School District (DCSD) provides this safe learning environment through programs designed to prevent and bring awareness to issues like bullying, substance abuse, dating violence and suicide.
Crisis and DCSD Intervention & Support
DCSD’s Intervention and Support programs are created via collaboration between administrators, teachers, parents, counselors, school social workers and school psychologists. Each school has a building level crisis team that responds when unfortunate situations occur in a building. If the crisis is more intense or widespread, school personnel may also engage the district crisis team.
In the event of a student, parent or staff member death or other traumatic situation, the Douglas County School District's Crisis Team takes action. The District's mental health professionals and administrators work in conjunction with DCSD's Community Relations department and Douglas County law enforcement entities to provide assistance to our school communities.
How to find support and intervention
Each school has designated time from a school psychologist. Most buildings also have designated time from a school social worker. All DCSD secondary schools have counselors.
Click here to locate your school counselor or check with your school.
Anti-bullying programs and kindness campaigns
Statistics show that 160,000 students skip school every day in the nation out of fear of being bullied. While bullying can be physical, it more commonly occurs verbally or online. In order to maintain a safe learning environment, all DCSD schools integrate an anti-bullying program or kindness campaign into their building culture.
Elementary schools in DCSD lay down the foundation in order to help prevent bullying when students get older. Cougar Run Elementary in Highlands Ranch, for example, incorporates what they call Cougar Run ROCKS into their culture, laying down core values that emphasize student respectfulness, responsibility and compassion towards one another.
“If kids are expressing concerns about something going on, that’s a perfect, really authentic opportunity for the class to sit down and have a discussion,” said Cougar Run second grade teacher, Sarah Dimino. “It’s such a part of our everyday thing, it’s quick and gives us an easy way to have conversations.”
Many DCSD elementary schools also utilize restorative circles to make sure every voice in the room is heard.
“When you say ‘we have a problem’ and kids just raise their hands, there are always kids that aren’t heard. A circle really allows a chance for everyone,” said Cougar Run fifth grade teacher, Lauren Lupien. “You don’t have to speak right this second, you can pass and think about it, but every voice needs to be heard and involved.”
As students get older, DCSD schools also utilize programs like Sources of Strength and Be the Change. ThunderRidge High School has implemented its own successful model called Seminar that blurs the lines between cliques to make sure every student is taken care of.
For more information, visit DCSD’s Prevention and School Culture page.
Dating violence, internet safety and substance abuse
DCSD partners with police and local agencies to prevent and bring awareness to issues related to teen dating violence, internet safety and drug and alcohol abuse. One of these agencies is the Youth, Education and Safety in Schools (Y.E.S.S.) program through the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Y.E.S.S. is a proactive collaboration between law enforcement, schools and the community to develop life skills for our future leaders. Instructors primarily teach middle school students in health classes about teen relationships, internet safety and substance abuse.
Most suicides occur due to some form of mental condition, such as depression or a substance abuse disorder. These conditions are treatable and suicide is preventable.
DCSD takes suicide prevention very seriously. We work very closely with local law enforcement and nonprofit organizations in our community to educate our stakeholders and provide support to those in need. Please read more about DCSD suicide prevention programs for students, staff and community members here.
Talk about it: It’s important to recognize the signs of someone who may be contemplating suicide. Asking about suicide does not increase the risk. How you ask the question is less important than that you ask for it:
Ask directly - "Are you thinking about killing yourself?"
Talk to the person alone in a private setting.
How not to ask the question - "You're not suicidal are you?"
Suicide is not the problem, only the solution to a perceived insolvable problem.
Listen to the problem and give them your full attention.
Offer help in any form.
Then ask, "Will you go with me to get help?" or
"Will you let me help you?" and
"Will you promise not to kill yourself until we've found some help?"