Helping Students, Teachers and Families Cope With COVID-19

Professor Ron Avi Astor and Ph.D. student Kate Watson of UCLA Luskin Social Welfare teamed up with Professor Rami Benbenishty of Hebrew University to create a set of questionnaires to assess how well teachers, students, parents and others are coping during the COVID-19 pandemic. The questionnaires have been widely distributed to social workers, educators and psychologists at no cost. “Schools can respond better to the most pressing needs of their students, teachers and families amid the COVID-19 pandemic by hearing the entire community,” Astor told Ampersand, a publication of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Sample questionnaires, available at these links for  teachers, students and parents, may be used in conjunction with abridged versions of two books co-authored by Astor and Benbenishty: “Mapping and Monitoring Bullying and Violence: Building a Safe School Climate” and “Welcoming Practices: Creating Schools That Support Students and Families in Transition.”  Astor and Benbenishty will also appear at a free UCLA Luskin Summit webinar on “A New Normal for Schools During the Pandemic” on Monday, May 4, at 9:30 a.m.  To register and attend the webinar, visit this link.

Here is Ampersand’s full interview with Astor:


Astor on High Suicide Risk of Military Children

Social Welfare Professor Ron Avi Astor was featured in a War Horse article about the high suicide risk of children of military service members. Despite increases in the number of veteran suicides in the last 20 years, very little research has focused on the mental health and well-being of children of service members. Exposure to trauma from a parent’s combat experience, resistance to mental health care and high rates of gun ownership are factors that put military children at higher risk for suicide. Frequent school changes and parental absences can erode their support structures. “The military and the country have an obligation here,” Astor said. “If we’re going to stick with 1% of the population as our fighting force, the least we can do is provide them and their families with support if they’re suicidal.” In 2010, Astor helped launch an initiative to train California teachers to better understand the risk factors unique to military-connected students.

Astor Honored With AERA Research Award

The American Educational Research Association has honored Social Welfare Professor Ron Avi Astor with a Distinguished Research Award for his co-written article on the role of school-level factors in suicidal ideation in California schools, published in the Journal of Pediatrics. The article was co-written with Astor’s colleagues, Rami Benbenishty, professor emeritus at the School of Social Work at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Ilan Roziner, professor at the Coller School of Management at Tel Aviv University. Astor holds the Marjorie Crump Chair in Social Welfare and has a joint appointment at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. He spoke about his research into suicide ideation among California students with the GSEIS publication Ampersand:

Astor on Passover in a Time of Pandemic