St. Louis School District's Crisis Response Team helps students - KMOV.com

St. Louis School District's Crisis Response Team helps students deal with trauma, tragedy

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ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- It’s been a tough year dealing with violence for students and staff in the St. Louis Public School (SLPS) District.  

In January, Toni Stevenson, 15, was shot and killed in the Walnut Park West neighborhood.

About a month before Stevenson’s death, 17-year-old Damani Aitch, also a Northwest High School Academy of Law student, was found with a gunshot wound inside a car in the 5900 block of Emma.

“When it impacts one community multiple times in a short span of time, the students do feel vulnerable and student and staff haven’t had time to really recoup from the previous loss,” said SLPS social services manager, Megan Marietta.

Marietta is on the district’s Crisis Response Team – a group of 42 trained individuals who help students deal with trauma and tragedy.

She said SLPS deals with crisis situations far more than other districts. This year, she said they have had fewer crises so far, but the ones they’re dealing with centered on community and domestic violence.

“When we’re looking at community violence, often what we see is that there is this ripple effect that one instant will then trigger other emotions moving forward. Whether that anxiety or fear,” said Marietta.

Marietta also adds that crisis team members get “compassion fatigue.” She said that’s emotional distress in having to constantly help students deal with trauma.

Stevenson’s death really rocked students and staff, according to Marietta.

“The response to that crisis, we involved social workers from other departments as well. So social workers within our students in transition, social workers within out special education department. We knew that this staff and students were in shock and were going to be grieving desperately at Northwest,” she said.

High school students aren’t the only ones impacted by violence, even elementary student are too.

Nearly a year ago, prosecutors said former school principal, Cornelius Green, 34, hired a hit man to kill his pregnant girlfriend Jocelyn Peters, 30, a teacher.

She said it’s hard for young kids to understand the concept of death.

“It does speak to attachments that students form with staff members. So is that bond lost? How do they replace that? How do they find another adult in the building that they can replace that lost staff member? So really working with them on navigating that and then in specific community violence, domestic violence impacts us – not only our children and their families– but our staff as well,” said Marietta. 

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