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On the last track, we discussed four steps that can help encourage students to come forward about threats. These four steps are ensure confidentiality, direct contact between parents and teachers, educational films, and decisive action.
On this track, we will discuss Jack Kelley’s 4-stage model for the phases of a hostage situation. These four phases are the initial hostage taking stage, the crisis stage, the accommodation stage, and the surrender stage. In addition, we will discuss the responsibility of adult caregivers to children during a hostage situation.
Stage 1: Initial Hostage Taking Stage
Some question exists as to the value of resisting at this stage, as this may put the hostage taker at a momentary disadvantage; however, the fact remains that such resistance is extremely dangerous. From an external point of view, it is crucial during this time for the negotiator and those assisting him or her to quickly interview those with ties to the hostage taker.
Stage 2: Crisis Stage
Research indicates that two trends emerge during the crisis stage. One direction is that some hostage takers may be positively influenced by victims who rapidly overcome shock and regain dignity. Conversely, cases emerge in which children held by a mentally disturbed captor have been shot when they drew attention to themselves.
Stage 3: Accommodation Stage
Thus it is vital for those involved, such as teachers, to be trained to recognize reactions such as guilt for leaving others, empathy for captors, or fear of authorities. These reactions, as you know, may make child hostages reluctant to leave, especially after a period of prolonged captivity.
Stage 4: Surrender Stage
Clearly, the most readily established technique for handling a potential hostage situation is that of lockdown. Lockdown includes locking the classroom doors and windows, turning off the lights, and moving students away from windows and into protected areas out of sight.
It is important to remember, however, that while humanization of the victim may be a priority in a hostage situation involving only adults, the perceived caring of the hostage taker for the victim may complicate a child’s traumatic response and recovery. Survival and prevention of exposure to trauma or guilt-inducing experiences are clearly the priority in those hostage situations involving children.
After the event, initial posttrauma interventions may involve taking care of concrete needs and providing protection. This may include moving children away from upsetting physical reminders such as location, and protecting children from additional traumatizing perceptions such as sight, smells, or sound. I have also found that part of this protection involves shielding children from media interviews.
As you know, this interaction with the media may worsen symptoms, cause stigmatization, or enhance celebrity. Enhancing the celebrity of the hostages may lead to regrets for emotional statements or demeanor, a subsequent sense of ‘falling from grace’ as additional personal details are exposed, and a sense of having been exploited. Would you agree that protecting children from media interviews following a hostage situation at a school is a high priority?
On this track, we have discussed Jack Kelley’s 4-stage model for the phases of a hostage situation. These four phases are the initial hostage taking stage, the crisis stage, the accommodation stage, and the surrender stage. In addition, we have discussed the responsibility of adult caregivers to children during a hostage situation.
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