Medway Police, Schools Attend D.A. Morrissey’s Collaborative Problem Solving Seminar

Issue Date: 
November, 2018
Article Body: 

Nationally acclaimed speaker and author Dr. J. Stuart Ablon, a Psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, was the guest of Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey at an all-day training modeled after Ablon’s “’Think: Kids’ Collaborative Problem Solving,” to help school districts deal with and find durable solutions to the most challenging and disruptive behaviors.
More than 110 educators, school nurses, psychologists and adjustment counselors – including 40 school resource officers – took part in the September 20 event, including Medway Director of Wellness Ryan Sherman, teacher Ellen Wettengel, Middle School Psychologist Sarah Lind and Police Officer Lauren Swarthout.
“Dr. Ablon’s methods are simple, but not easy. They start from the premise, rooted in research, that most kids ‘do well if they can’,” Morrissey said. “When they act out in school, the adults around them can be trained to work with them to identify, then teach the skills they need to succeed.”
The “Think: Kids” method is the opposite of permissiveness, but also avoids ineffective punishment models, Morrissey said. Instead, educators and school resource officers are trained in Collaborative Problem Solving – meaning the students are strategically engaged in coming up with resolutions to the conflict. In doing so, they improve skills that will prevent the problem from recurring.
The research shows that collaborative problem solving creates more durable solutions to problematic behavior than either permissiveness or punitive action, and the District Attorney also sees benefits for the students as they age into adulthood.
“Helping students overcome poor impulse control, inability to manage irritability or disappointment, or help them learn to manage conflict – all while still in the safe environment of a school – can only help their future,” Morrissey said. “Spend a morning in any district courtroom and you will see petty assaults, property destruction and other crimes that arise from the same skill deficits.”
The conference was held in seminar space donated by the Bank of Canton at its corporate headquarters.