Nixon-Smiley CISD May Safety Newsletter


Welcome to another edition of the #mustangSAFE newsletter. This month we hit topics such as the must-knows of vaping, mental health in schools, and prevention of child abuse. Please remember that there are many ways to report abuse and if you are being abused please reach out and get help. Thank you for keeping our #mustangSAFE!!!


1. E-cigarette products can also be used as a delivery system for marijuana and other drugs.

2. In 2018, more than 3 million youth in middle and high school used e-cigarettes in the past month.

3. Young people have been found to believe that e-cigarettes deliver "harmless water vapor" and may not realize the product can contain nicotine. Many e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive.

4. The effects of nicotine exposure during youth can be long-lasting and can include lower impulse control and mood disorder.

5. The nicotine in e-cigarettes and other tobacco products can prime young brains for addiction to other drugs, such as cocaine and meth.

6. The brain is the last organ in the human body to develop fully. Brain development continues until the early to mid-'20s. Nicotine exposure during periods of significant brain development can disrupt the growth of brain circuits that control attention, learning, and susceptibility to addiction.


May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it's vital school staff and administrators recognize potential mental health issues in students.

The statistics surrounding mental health are alarming. Here are some statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health:

· One in five children ages 13-18 have or will have a serious mental illness.

· Almost 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14.

· 90% of those who died by suicide had an underlying mental illness.

· Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in youth ages 10-24.

It's important for your staff to know and understand the link between student behavior and mental health. A student's mental health affects his or her classroom behavior. When a student causes disruption in the classroom, it can often be an indicator of more serious issues.

How can your staff identify and help a student with a potential mental illness?

First, awareness is key. Be aware of the warning signs and changes in student behavior.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, warning signs of mental illness include:

1. Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than a two week period.

2. Trying to harm or kill oneself, or making plans to do so.

3. Severe mood swings.

4. Drastic changes in behavior, personality, or sleeping habits.

5. Out-of-control, risk-taking behaviors that can cause harm to self or others.

6. Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, including a racing heart, physical discomfort, or fast breathing.

7. Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities.

8. Significant weight loss or gain.

9. Repeated use of drugs or alcohol.

Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still that can lead to issues in school.
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The Importance of Child Abuse Prevention in Schools

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than six million children are reported as abused or neglected each year.

To help remove barriers that affect students' readiness to learn, school personnel must be able to recognize when children are being abused and quickly intervene on their behalf.

Child abuse can be more than just bruises and broken bones. Child maltreatment includes physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and exploitation, emotional abuse, threat of harm, and abuse of children with disabilities. While physical abuse may be easier to detect, emotional abuse and neglect leave deep, lasting, invisible scars. Research shows that maltreatment can cause:

· Neurological damage.

· Low self-concept.

· Depression.

· Anxiety.

· School adjustment problems.

· Poor academic outcomes

In Texas, school employees are considered mandatory reports. This means that if any school staff member has reasonable cause to believe a child is being abused, they must report suspected incidents to one or more of the following:

Local law enforcement

Child Protection Services

Building Administrators

District Administrators


Be sure to teach your child safety skills like how to state his/her name and phone number and how to cross the street.

How to Report Child Sexual Abuse and Provide Victim Support

If you know a child who has been sexually abused, suspect a child is being sexually abused, or are a victim of child sexual abuse, please call the National Child Abuse Hotline at (1-800) 422-4453.
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Autism Awareness: Advocates Discuss Risks Involved with Disorder

Researchers are studying ways to prevent children with autism from wandering away, which is a risk many parents have experienced.

Autism affects an estimated one in 59 children in the United States, according to Autism Speaks, and symptoms can vary. It is diagnosed based on the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

Symptoms include:

  • social communication challenges
    • difficulty recognizing emotions in others and themselves
    • feeling overwhelmed in social situations
    • difficulty taking turns in conversation
  • restrictive, repetitive behaviors
    • body movements like rocking, spinning, etc.
    • with objects like spinning wheels, shaking sticks, etc.
    • need for routine/resistance to change

“The problem is autism is a highly complex disorder,” said Dr. Theresa Hamlin, associate executive director of The Center for Discovery. “The DSM really doesn’t do it justice in terms of all the other problems…sleep disorders, gastrointestinal problems and seizure disorders.”

The Center for Discovery offers residential, medical, clinical and special education programs. The group is focusing particularly on how to prevent children with autism from wandering off, a problem that experts are calling “elopement.”

According to the CDC, surveys of parents show that about half of children with autism were reported to have wandered off. Of those, about one in four were missing long enough to raise concern.

Hamlin says the group has seen correlations with gastrointestinal issues and children with autism wandering.

“When kids are constipated, which is often the case in autism, if they haven’t gone to the bathroom in several days, they’re more likely to run away during those days than when they’ve just had a bowel movement. So we need to understand more and those are things you can treat.”

She added that kids are likely to run away from things or they’re trying to avoid something and you need to have safety plans in place.

To prevent wandering or to keep children safe if they do wander, the CDC recommends:

  • having an emergency plan in place and alert neighbors/school workers
  • watch the child’s behavior and notice signs that the child may wander off before it happens
  • keep identification on the child, such as an ID bracelet or card
  • secure homes with locks
  • teach safety skills to the child