Lubbock ISD implements "restorative circles" to improve students

Lubbock ISD implements "restorative circles" to improve students' mental health

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

It is National Suicide Prevention Week, and school districts like Lubbock ISD are constantly searching for ways to combat mental illness with students.

Chris Huber, principal of Atkins Middle School, said the school is implementing restorative circles each day, small groups allowing students to open up and share with an adult.

“Kids need to have an adult that they connect with every day at school, at least one,” Huber said. “Somebody who they can turn to, somebody who is looking out for them. So that’s one of the reasons we do advisory every day. So that kids are in a small group with a teacher and it’s about 30 minutes.”

Huber said a lack of social skills are directly tied to conflicts leading to issues with mental illness.

“The circles are important because they teach a lot of social skills that kids may not get at home,” Huber said. “One example is we kind of talk when it’s our turn and we don’t interrupt other people, and so there is a social skill aspect to it that we think is really beneficial because if kids start to learn those habits, it’s going to cut down on conflict that they have with other kids if they exercise those skills in their own lives.”

Huber said the goal from these exercises is to get students to find their purpose and realize they are going through the same problems as other kids.

“If we can get kids to accept people for who they are and recognize that we all have stuff, good stuff and bad stuff. If we can get kids to realize that in junior high, or middle school, and carry that forward, then we’re having a lifelong impact on our kids,” Huber said.

Huber said the most important thing for parents to do is to monitor their child’s social media accounts.

“A child gets in trouble and we start talking to the parents about what’s going on and we say have you been in their Instagram account or their Snapchat? And the parent hasn’t been, and they don’t realize that this is the world that their child lives in now,” Huber said. “It is very different than the one at their house. I think that’s a huge, resounding thing for parents to become involved in. They’ve got to be aware what their child is connected to on social media.”

A 2017 CDC report found four out of five teens who attempt suicide showed clear signs of mental illness and conflict at school.

Huber added parents however need to be aware of mixed signals from their children, as he said it is sometimes difficult to really know what their child is going through.

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