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Crisis Prevention by E-mail

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Getting teenagers to talk about their problems or their worries about classmates is no easy task. But Westfield High School in Houston has come up with a method its officials think may make some inroads with a generation immersed in instant messaging and MySpace. With the help of a communication firm, the school has set up a private Web site to which students can e-mail anonymous tips about their own or their peers’ issues. The system then provides regular reports to help the school’s staff address trouble spots—bullying and self-mutilation being the greatest last year. Students’ identities are revealed only when they have written about harming themselves or others, according to officials. An assistant superintendent for counseling in a neighboring school district voiced skepticism about whether e-mail messages can be as effective as one-on-one discussions with students. But she acknowledged that school counselors today are often too overloaded—in part with administrative tasks related to standardized testing—to meet with every student. Westfield students, meanwhile, appear to be optimistic about the Internet tip line. “I think it will be helpful,” said one senior. “Now people might be afraid to do some stuff at this school.”

1 Comment

I think this is an excellent idea. I agree it is a format that teenagers are comfortable and familiar with, which adds to its appeal. However, I have concerns about deciding what information is accurate or truthful. Any insights with monitoring the content of messages?

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  • dan: I think this is an excellent idea. I agree it read more




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