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Nancy Rappaport
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Nancy Rappaport is an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of School Mental Health Programs at Cambridge Health Alliance. She is coauthor of The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students, written with Jessica Minahan and In Her Wake: A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of Her Mother’s Suicide (

Entries by Nancy Rappaport

Preventing Murder-Suicides: How the Germanwings Tragedy Offers Us a Global Opportunity

(0) Comments | Posted April 9, 2015 | 4:20 PM

If tragedy offers us anything, it's a chance to learn and take action to prevent another similar incident from occurring. While news is still coming out regarding the Germanwings plane crash, we do know that it was an apparent murder-suicide carried out by a young pilot reportedly suffering with mental...

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Resilience: How Adapting to Stress Can Make Us Better Parents

(0) Comments | Posted May 19, 2014 | 1:12 PM

I'm going to tell you something that is hard to believe. Psychologists can predict what kind of parents we'll be by how we talk about childhood.

Attachment between parent and child refers to the pattern of communication and quality of relationship in which a child feels safe and secure...

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An Insider's Look into Autism: Alongside Her Autistic Students, Behavioral Coordinator Kim Ceccarelli Is Also Learning

(8) Comments | Posted May 2, 2014 | 1:42 PM

April was Autism Awareness Month, but we should draw attention to autism every day. One way to do so is to hear from the many brave people out there making a difference in the lives of young people with autism and in the growing field of autism research. Kim Ceccarelli...

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Finish Line: Why I Run the Boston Marathon

(0) Comments | Posted April 23, 2014 | 4:07 PM

1. "I wish you the most peaceful and powerful of marathon experiences on Monday. May you be moved by the somber reflection on those who no longer run, and be transformed by the energy and unity of those running in triumph with you."

These were words of encouragement from...

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Marathon Strength: An insider's View of the Marathon Bombings, One Year Later

(0) Comments | Posted April 8, 2014 | 2:31 PM

The Boston Marathon has always been a big part of my life. I've run it 10 times now, and will run again this year, raising money for the Samaritans. It's a focused physical endurance event, and a spiritual journey for me.

Last year's devastation -- the bombings...

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Hanging Tough: How Flexibility and Support Can Transform Traumatized Students

(1) Comments | Posted December 19, 2013 | 6:49 PM

Eva was having meltdowns during class and spent most of her time in the guidance counselor's office in tears. Her mother had schizophrenia and had recently decompensated, so Eva was beyond worried. I began working with Eva when the guidance counselor couldn't get her back into class and they'd reached...

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Demystifying Bullying: An insider's View Into Understanding, and Responding, to Bullying

(0) Comments | Posted October 18, 2013 | 11:18 AM

As much as bullying hogs the headlines' limelight, there's still a lot of confusion about it. October is National Bullying Prevention Month and to demystify the hot topic for both parents and educators, I recently caught up with Elizabeth Englander, a professor of psychology and the founder and director of...

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Coming out of the Haze: How Schools, Parents and Coaches Must Unite to Prevent Hazing

(0) Comments | Posted September 27, 2013 | 8:04 PM

With school in session again, hazing has returned to the headlines. Hazing -- often confined to reports about sports teams and fraternity pledging -- usually starts with foolish but harmless requests that can quickly escalate into dangerous and even life-threatening activity. How are incidents of hazing still occurring and what...

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The Burden of Knowing: How to Disclose Ambiguous Loss to Children

(0) Comments | Posted May 16, 2013 | 11:22 AM

Recently I received a phone call from a woman, who I'll call Lisa, whose ex-husband has disappeared. Mysteriously vanished. How should Lisa tell her children? she wondered. The task seemed almost more difficult because there was no closure, so what could she tell her children when no one knows exactly...

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Cambridge Strong: Tips for Students Returning After Bombs and Lockdowns

(0) Comments | Posted April 22, 2013 | 7:56 PM

A wise school administrator once offered this sage advice: "Walk like you have the gold in your pocket, and soon you will."

I am thinking about this as I contemplate students returning to school tomorrow after a harrowing week of bombs and lockdowns. Students in Massachusetts were on spring break...

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(40) Comments | Posted April 20, 2013 | 12:04 AM

I woke up this morning to discover that Cambridge, the city I have called home for 30 years, was in lockdown. As our city reels from a week of tragedy, I am honoring my home Cambridge and the people who work in our schools.

I have seen a lot during...

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Rolling in the Deep: Tips for Treading Turbulent Classroom Waters

(1) Comments | Posted April 15, 2013 | 4:03 PM

I'm often asked to give talks to burgeoning teachers -- young men and women who want to make a lasting impact on many future students' lives. Recently, I met with a group of students from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to discuss how to manage realistic problems in the...

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ADHD Medication Can Help Kids, But It Can't Fix Schools

(0) Comments | Posted March 7, 2013 | 2:54 PM

I think we can all agree that reforming schools through medicating students would be misguided, even ridiculous.

Yet The New York Times reported last fall that some physicians, particularly in low-income communities, are prescribing stimulants to students as a way to compensate for their inadequate schools. The children...

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'But I didn't mean to...' Responding to Students Exhibiting Sexualized Behavior

(0) Comments | Posted February 6, 2013 | 8:00 PM

Students with sexualized behavior are one of teachers' biggest concerns. While sexual behavior -- touching, masturbating, making lewd gestures or engaging in pretend sexual play -- is relatively unusual, it can be understandably upsetting and confusing for educators, who often are not sure how best to respond and get mired...

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Three Ways to Help 'Loners' and Improve School Safety

(4) Comments | Posted January 16, 2013 | 11:56 AM

As school reopens this month, following yet another school shooting, teachers of adolescents may be inclined to take a second look at their own students and wonder if any of them might be capable of pulling off a similar violent attack.

Often, these anxieties land on "loner" students. There is...

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Don't Draft Children to Fight School Shooters

(4) Comments | Posted January 8, 2013 | 3:51 PM

In the news reports on the horrendous school shooting in Connecticut, the widely circulated photograph of children being led to safety by adults struck me. In it, students -- understandably visibly upset -- are evacuated in a line, hands on each other's shoulders, and moving under the direction...

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On the Front Lines: The Everyday Bravery of Teachers

(0) Comments | Posted December 17, 2012 | 10:31 AM

"She put those children first. That's all she ever talked about."

That's a quote taken from Andrea Crowell, as told to the Associated Press, about her friend Victoria Soto, one of the teachers and administrators murdered in the Newtown, CT, tragedy.

In my 20 years of consulting with schools,...

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The Generosity of Gratitude

(0) Comments | Posted November 20, 2012 | 11:36 AM

In the season of thanks, I recently had my Harvard freshman seminar class take inventory of all they're grateful for. The responses were fairly predictable: family, friends, significant others, pets, jobs, opportunities. There were a few endearing surprises, including one student who was appreciative of his comforter, another her fuzzy...

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Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! The Changing Image of Today's Nannies

(8) Comments | Posted November 1, 2012 | 3:20 PM

The chilling recent alleged murder of two young children by a New York City nanny has set off alarms in parents' heads. A vision of Mary Poppins' spoonful-of-sugar doting is a far cry from the image of the contemporary nanny, but many of today's nannies are just as...

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The Art of ADHD: Can we free children from 'chemical straitjackets'?

(12) Comments | Posted October 12, 2012 | 6:50 PM

It's now days later, and I'm still thinking about Alan Schwarz's recent New York Times article about prescribing stimulants for children. I am quoted in the piece, but Schwarz also quotes another physician who doesn't believe that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder--better known as ADHD-- exists, and yet he...

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