School Nurses Positioned to Help Solve School Shooting Epidemic

School Nurses Positioned to Help Solve School Shooting Epidemic

December 2, 20192 min read

Since 2018 school nurses have responded to 38 school shootings, and they find themselves on the front line of gun violence, whether the act is by an active shooter in a school, a mass shooting in the community or anywhere in the country.

"The epidemic of gun violence is a public health crisis affecting the whole country, but school nurses are ideally positioned to work alongside others who are committed to public health approaches to solve the issue of mass shootings," says Sunny G. Hallowell, PhD, assistant professor at Villanova University's M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing.

Every school day, 95,000 school nurses enter U.S. schools prepared and ready to serve more than 55 million children for six and a half hours, 180 days a year. Families, school districts and communities entrust their children to school environments with the expectation that they will be kept safe from harm. School nurses are first responders whose skills are crucial to ensuring the health and safety of students, staff and faculty within schools and the surrounding community.

Hallowell is coauthor of "School Nurses Share their Voices, Trauma and Solutions by Sounding the Alarm on Gun Violence," published recently in the medical journal Current Trauma Reports.  She and her coauthors shed light on the impact of gun violence within schools from the perspective of school nurses, whose expertise is critical to the design and implementation of programs that keep students safe.

"Nurses are trained both in the emergency trauma care and clinical responses necessary for addressing traumatic gun violence, as well as the mental health outcomes resulting from tragedy," says Hallowell. "There is a critical need for research that guides the selection of evidence-based safety programs that consider the developmental and the mental health needs of school communities."

Standard response protocols such as school safety drills, fire drills and tornado, hurricane and earthquake drills have been implemented as early as the First World War. The memory of air raid drills and the lingering effect of the experiences have been well documented. As Hallowell's journal article shows, fear has long dictated how schools invest their resources in response to gun violence.

Connect with:
  • Sunny G. Hallowell, PhD
    Sunny G. Hallowell, PhD Associate Professor | M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing

    Sunny G. Hallowell, PhD, APRN, PPCNP-BC is an expert in human milk and lactation, neonatal care, and children’s health policy.

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