Drugs and alcohol, suicide, depression and bullying are issues many students face in South Dakota. Often times its educators who find themselves having to intervene or combat the issues. A three-day clinic is giving educators the tools needed to do just that.
As a Student Behavior Assistant at Little Wound Elementary School, Beulah White Crane knows that educators need more training to combat the high number of suicides on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
"Every little second, every little, what time you have with each child is so important," White Crane said.
She's learning new ways to make those seconds count through a program known as the Masonic Model Student Assistance Program.
"We developed a program back in Pennsylvania in 1983 to identify and intervene with at risk kids," Masonic Model Student Assistant Program Creator Larry Newman said.
Newman and Thom Stecher created the program, which teaches educators how to identify, intervene and create appropriate referrals for students who are being bullied, dealing with substance abuse or are contemplating suicide.
It's a free, three-day training paid for by South Dakota Masons and Shriners.
"After you've identified the child, how to help her or him overcome or deal with the particular problem or problems that are occurring in that child's life," State Coordinator for Masonic Student Assistance Program George Bauder said.
The training simulates real events and focuses on a core-team effort.
"Meaning six to eight people are a lot brighter than one," Newman said.
Newman hopes educators will return to their schools with action plans that they can work into their current system.
And that includes White Crane, who is leaving determined to make positive changes.
"My philosophy is that one day I want to see a bigger, better generation of our Lakota children," White Crane said.
A 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey recently released shows suicides in South Dakota are around the national average of nearly eight percent. Being bullied on school property ranks higher at 26.7 percent; the national average is 20.1.