Human Behavior in Extreme Situations

Robert H. Koff PhD and Kathryn Hanna M.S.W.
InkwaterPress (2015)
ISBN 9781629012766
Reviewed by Christine Watson for Reader Views (11/15)

“Human Behavior in Extreme Situations” by Robert H. Koff PhD and Kathryn Hanna M.S.W. is a much-needed book for K-12 schools specifically, and for everyone in general. The advice and suggestions are based on in-depth research of historical events where people were put into tragic situations and forced to survive using these critical skills.

Koff and Hanna do a great job of summarizing tragic events in history, and breaking down how the victims survived traumatic life events. Leadership is a large component of survival. Shackleton’s Voyage in 1914 was an example of how leadership in action saved the lives of everyone on board the “Endurance” ship in an effort to cross the Antarctic Continent. When things went wrong, guidance, trust, sticking together and having patience proved as the skills needed to save the crew.

Another historical event discussed was the concentration camp of Sobibor during World War II. Several prisoners were planning an escape, and they took advantage of the skills, experience, and knowledge of their fellow prisoners to create a plan, make difficult decisions, and then follow through with the plan when it got tough.

These are examples of how a little planning and leadership can help to make schools a much safer place for the students and staff. The authors talk about how the effect of different methods of emergency responses can vary, and that balancing higher security with preventative measures is the best way to create a safe environment for all involved. Helping to create leadership skills in the school faculty, staff, and other stakeholders, along with the parents of the students, will go a long way in giving students the safety they need to make it through difficult circumstances that may occur in the future.

I highly recommend “Human Behavior in Extreme Situations” by Robert H. Koff PhD and Kathryn Hanna M.S.W. to school leaders and parents because they are responsible for the safety and care of children on a regular, often daily basis. I also recommend this book for anyone interested in learning how to develop some skills needed to survive a tragic event. As no one knows when something like this could happen, these skills could be invaluable in saving lives.

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