TAMPA, Fla. - You'd expect a few sports related injuries each year at school, but what may surprise you is the intentional injuries sustained by students. "If we have an altercation, it's the scratches and the bruises," Jefferson High Principal Van Ayres says.
The school notifies parents and the student gets immediate attention from the school nurse. If a student is unresponsive, they call 911. Ayers says what is more prevalent is bullying. They've implemented programs to stop problems, before they escalate into physical or emotional injuries. But a study published in the Journal Pediatrics says despite an increased emphasis on safety, children 5 to 19 years still experience a substantial number of intentional injuries while at school.
Out of about 7.3 million trips to the emergency room due to injuries that occurred at school about ten percent were reported as intentional. And boys and kids 10 to 14 were identified as being at greater risk.
Dr. Michael Longley says he is alarmed by the increase in self-inflicted injuries. "Kids who are bullied at school or over the internet are overdosing on prescription medications, drugs and alcohol. Some are taking it to the extreme and some are cutting or burning themselves," said Dr. Longley.
So what can parents do? "If something goes down in the neighborhood on a Saturday and Sunday they need to let us know. If we don't get word, as soon as students get to school, and we've seen it before, we'll have a fight. If they let us know, we can be in place at six forty five or seven o'clock in the morning," says Principal Ayers.
"The number one thing is to keep the line of communication open. The school and the parents need to stay open to any signs the kids are giving them. Noticing any notes written, any changes in their behavior, if they're acting more depressed maybe don't want to go out with their friends anymore. Just staying in tune with how the child is behaving," said Dr. Longley.
Along with a school resource officer, Jefferson High has counselors, nurses and other staff members who are able to respond to a report of physical or emotional injuries.