The crisis chosen for analysis is the Beslan school hostage crisis, which was a 2004 massacre that occurred in the Russian federation. It was instigated by a series of Islamic militants from Chechen who took over one thousand one hundred hostages and eventually led to the death of about three hundred and eighty victims in total.
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Cultural and ecological impact of the crisis
The crisis affected family members tremendously. First, some of them lost loved ones and were eventually devastated by this tragedy (Goldston et al., 2008). Close to 180 people went missing; their kinsmen were likely having a hard time looking for them. Since relatives were not allowed to visit victims in the hospital, it was torturous for them not to know about their families. They were also affected by immense levels of insecurity in their community. Most members of Beslan began distrusting the authorities because they did not respond to their plight appropriately.
The disaster also hurt the cultural sensibilities of the surrounding communities because funeral rites were not respected. At the end of the disaster, bulldozers were sent in to deal with the aftermath; they removed the remains indiscriminately. Although body parts were part of this debris, authorities damped all those remains in a garbage dump. This contravened the cultural expectations of the affected communities because they expected to mourn and properly bury their loved ones. The crisis deepened ethnic hatred between members of the Beslan community and the Chechen community. The former regarded the latter as inhumane people because they attacked, tortured, and killed young children; this seemed like an unforgivable act to them.
A crisis intervention skill that might have been used to respond to the crisis
The chosen skill is communication coordination. The ecological and cultural effects of the trauma may have been minimized if the concerned school administrators and other stakeholders established such a function. It would entail the collection, integration, and dissemination of incoming information to all concerned stakeholders. Some of these stakeholders would include parents and other relatives of the victims, doctors, nurses, emergency attendants, and other caregivers. This skill would entail the creation of a 24-hour hotline where parents would call in to receive the latest information on the crisis (Motumura, 2002). Only verified information ought to be disseminated as speculation on the cause of death can cause even more unrest. The first parents to be contacted are those who have loved ones in critical conditions. They need to know that their children are still alive and in need of help. Additionally, parents with bereaved families should also be contacted. The person in charge of information dissemination needs to do this sensitively and sympathetically. Suggestions on community outreach programs can be given if the parent appears to be receptive (Sandoval & Brock, 1996). One should be selective about the kind of information that is given. Certain explanations need to be left in the hands of health experts. The school should have had an open line of communication with the hospital. Although doctors were not allowed by the government to keep their phones, communication should still have been maintained between them and the school through other modes such as faxes. A person in the hospital should have notified the communication coordinator about any new changes and this would have assisted them greatly.
These post-intervention strategies would have relieved tensions and stresses caused by poor information dissemination in the tragedy. It would have helped families cope with their losses by offering avenues for dealing with their stress.
- Goldston, D., Molock, S., Whitbeck, L., Murakami, J., Zayas, L. & Hall, Gordon. (2008). Cultural considerations in adolescent suicide prevention and psychosocial treatment. American psychologist, 63(1), 14-31
- Motumura, N., Kyoiku, O., Kashiwara, O. (2002). School crisis intervention in the Ikeda incident: organization and activity of the mental support team. Psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, 57, 239-240
- Sandoval, J. & Brock, S. (1996). The school psychologist’s role in suicide prevention. School psychology quarterly, 11(2), 169-185