A Sandy Hook Initiative for Safer Schools

Dr. Scott Poland

Dr. Scott Poland is a Professor at the College of Psychology and is Co-Director of the Suicide and Violence Prevention Office at Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Dr. Poland is a licensed psychologist internationally recognized as an expert on youth suicide, self-injury, school violence, school safety, threat assessment and school crisis. He has authored or co-authored five books and many chapters and articles on these subjects including, Suicide in Schools, published in 2015.  He co-authored the Suicide Safer Schools Plan for the state of Texas and previously directed psychological services for a large Texas school system for 24 years. Dr. Poland is a past President of the National Association of School Psychologists, and past Prevention Division Director of the American Association of Suicidology. He has been an expert witness in numerous legal cases surrounding suicide tragedies in school communities. Dr. Poland is dedicated to prevention and has testified about the mental health needs of children before the U.S. Congress on four occasions. He is a founding member of the National Emergency Assistance Team and has personally assisted school communities following school shootings, acts of terrorism, natural disasters and numerous suicide clusters. Dr. Poland is known for his dynamic and practical presentations that include many real life experiences on the front line of crisis prevention, intervention, and postvention.

Scott’s Presentations:

Bullying and Suicide: Keys to Prevention and Resiliency
Bullying in schools is a national issue and a number of media reports have attributed youth suicide to victimization. This presentation will help school personnel and community agencies develop comprehensive suicide and bullying prevention programs. Participants will learn effective strategies to build resiliency for children in today’s world. Participants will learn to identify protective and resiliency factors for school age youth; develop a comprehensive best practices model for suicide prevention, plan for intervention and postvention in the school and community, explore best practices for bullying prevention and the complex relationship between bullying and suicide.

School Crisis and Liability
Practitioners in the schools–including administrators, support personnel, and teachers–face a myriad of complex issues when a crisis occurs, exposing them to potential criticism and legal liability. This training reviews cases where school personnel have been sued over issues such as failure to obtain parental consent before telling students the truth about a crisis situation, and analyzes legal action against school personnel for failure to notify parents when students were known to engage in self-injury or suicidal behavior. Participants will review key issues, court decisions, best practice suicide postvention, and discuss legal consequences of inadequate threat assessment in schools.

Parenting in a Challenging World
Children today live in a very fast paced world and are exposed to many things at an early age. Dr. Poland has over 30 years’ experience working with children and schools on a daily basis and in the aftermath of many tragedies, including Columbine. Parents need training and support to build resiliency in their children for times of challenge and hardship in childhood. This presentation will help parents recognize at-risk behaviors and bully behaviors in their own children and others, and will include practical examples of parenting children of all ages. Participants will learn how to recognize and reduce bully behaviors and how to best support children targeted by bullying.

School Safety Best Practices: Insights from a National Crisis Responder
Dr. Scott Poland has provided assistance in the aftermath of 16 school shootings. This training will emphasize lessons learned from these tragedies, such as warning signs of serious mental illness and suicidal behavior, the relationship between suicide and school shootings, and what is known about school shooters and typology. Dr. Poland will also examine issues related to crisis drills and evacuation procedures and recommendations that include run-fight hide. Specific guidelines for conducting crisis drills that are not scary to students but do practice moving students to safe and protected places will be outlined.

Recovering from a Crisis at School: Lessons Learned From the Front Lines to Help Students and Schools in the Aftermath of Tragedy
The incidence of accidental, homicidal and suicidal deaths of students requires that schools and communities be prepared to respond to these tragic events and manage emotionality. Many schools are faced with the death of a student or a staff member. This training will help school personnel, and community agencies:

•  develop and enhance their ability to respond to critical incidents
•  provide students and staff with the assistance and support needed
•  understand and respond to the complicated issue of memorialization and what is appropriate at school

Non Suicidal Self Injury: Critical Issues
School personnel and community agencies are increasingly faced with referrals of students who are engaging in self-injury most commonly referred to as NSSI (Non-Suicidal Self Injury). Self-injury by students, with cutting being the most common, often catches school personnel, parents and community personnel by surprise. This training will provide practical guidelines for detecting this behavior, intervening to support the student and family, assessing suicidal risk of the student, the school’s role in intervention, and understanding the relationship between self-injury and suicide.  Other important factors that will be covered are major theories of self-injury, the self-injurer today, self-injury versus self-mutilation, legal issues and recommendations.

Threat Assessment in Schools
This workshop will provide step by step guidelines to help school personnel improve their skills in classifying threats and taking appropriate investigative actions to reduce the likelihood of violence. Dr. Poland will present lessons learned from a number of national incidents of school violence where he served following crisis, such as Red Lake, Minnesota and Littleton, Colorado. Key roles for various school personnel that comprise the school threat assessment team and the importance of working collaboratively with local authorities will be stressed. Participants will learn practical strategies and tips that they can implement in their school system to manage threats of violence.

Youth Suicide: Contemporary issues in prevention/intervention and postvention for schools The incidence of youth suicide requires today’s schools to increase suicide prevention efforts and prepare to respond if a suicide occurs. This presentation will help administrators and school support personnel increase their understanding of the incidence and most common factors in youth suicide. Participants will learn effective strategies to prevent youth suicide and lessons from the aftermath of numerous suicides. This program will examine protective factors and primary prevention programs to prevent youth suicide, myths about suicide, intervention and postvention practices for suicide prevention, comprehensive suicide assessment, parent notification, collaboration with community services, self injury and suicide, bullying and suicide, “the contagion effect,” and a number of legal cases following a youth suicide.


Scott Poland has provided extremely well received trainings for our state school safety center on a variety of topics for over 15 years and his recent keynote address on suicide prevention to more than 200 administrators at the 2015 TASSC Administrators Conference received an overall rating of 4.72 on a 5.0 scale.
-Kathy Prather, Executive Director of the Texas School Safety Center

Dr. Poland received a standing ovation for his keynote address on the Power of School Psychology to Make a Difference at the 2015 Florida Association of School Psychologists Convention.
-Lisa Perez, President Elect, Florida Association of School Psychologists, FASP 

Scott Poland has been our most frequently requested speaker at a variety of school safety and bullying prevention conferences we have organized around the country. 
-Curt Laverello, Executive Director, School Safety Advocacy Council

Dr. Poland provided excellent invited major presentations on school safety and school violence prevention at the Great Lakes Homeland Security Conferences in both 2013 and 2014. The participants very much appreciated his wealth of practical knowledge and speaking ability.
-Jacqueline Hampton, Michigan State Police

Scott has been consulting with Volusia County this spring (2014) as we have experienced a suicide cluster. Last week he presented separate sessions for administrators, support personnel and parents. His impact in our district in a 24 hour period was remarkable and his speaking ability is beyond giftedness. The Superintendent has already asked that he return to provide more training in our district.
-Dr. Mary Alice Myer, Assistant Director of Special Education

Words cannot express how wonderful his training was to our school staff as he planted needed seeds for extra efforts and restoration to help our students.
-Monica Wills, Director Greenville, S.C.

General Information Dr. Poland’s presentation topics are available as keynote presentations or half day or all day workshops. He prefers a hand held or wireless microphone and requires a computer and projector be provided so that he can show a power point. His slides may be copied for participants. His fees are 3500.00$ per day plus expenses for any group and he is very comfortable with large group presentations. For more information about Dr. Scott Poland’s presentations contact Susan Parziale sparziale@safeandsoundschools.org