School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: School Safety from a School Nurse’s Perspective: A Public Health Approach to Stemming Gun Violence   

I am thankful and excited to share that I will be presenting a general session at NASN 2023 Conference in Orlando this summer. My topic is: School Safety from a School Nurse’s Perspective: A Public Health Approach to Stemming Gun Violence.  

NASN’s vision is that all students are healthy, safe and ready to learn. Couched in between healthy and ready to learn is our most challenging charge as school nurses, keeping our students safe. Gun violence is now the number one leading cause of death in children and teens, surpassing motor vehicle accidents. Schools have experienced an exponential rise in gun violence in the past five years since Parkland. 

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We have accepted the unacceptable for too long. Parents, school staff, and students should not have to worry that their school will be the site of the next school shooting.

For decades, we’ve treated gun violence as a battle to be won rather than a problem to be solved. – Nicholas Kristof

School nurses can join in the public health approach to reducing gun violence in schools and communities. We can never accept gun violence as inevitable because it is predictable and therefore, preventable. Imagine a school community that centers school connectedness and healing approaches that promote environments where students flourish, not flounder. 

Come learn with me at NASN Conference 2023, as we explore the impact school nurses can have by promoting healing centered engagement that increases school safety and embodies NASN’s vision of ensuring our students are healthy, safe, and ready to learn.

Here is the description of my session:

The impact of gun violence and threats on student health is the focus of this presentation. We will explore the role school nurses have as healthcare providers charged with the responsibility of protecting students and faculty while fostering safe school environments. Whether it’s an active shooter ravaging the safety of our nation’s schools, or the slow mass shootings that happen in communities across the country, our children are suffering. Violence and revenge are partners in wreaking havoc on innocence and, when coupled with access to weapons, cause death and destruction in the most innocent of spaces. All students and staff need a safe and supportive school environment to succeed.

The most effective approach to creating safe and supportive school environments requires a comprehensive, coordinated effort including school wide, districtwide, and community wide strategies. School nurses are healthcare partners embedded in school communities who can guide those efforts. As school nurses, we are change agents trained in the emergency trauma care and clinical responses necessary for addressing traumatic gun violence, as well as the mental health outcomes resulting from tragedy. We are ideally positioned to work alongside others who are committed to public health approaches to solve the issue of mass shootings, by both distinguishing the risk factors and then identifying actionable solutions through research and practice. School nurses should champion the cause of gun violence prevention, sounding the alarm and creating evidence-based, multidisciplinary solutions to advance the safety and security of all our nation’s children.

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