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Hardin schools bringing in counselors after death of teen girl

Posted at 6:33 PM, Jan 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-22 13:28:31-05

HARDIN — The Hardin schools community is trying to heal a day after the body of 16-year-old Selena Not Afraid was discovered.

"We are here to support everybody is going to grieve in a different way. And we want to support whatever that happens to be," Chad Johnson, superintendent of Hardin School District, said.

Not Afraid's body was found at 10:33 a.m. Monday during a search by a U.S. Department of Interior team southwest of the I-90 rest area between Hardin and Billings where she was last seen.

Johnson said they are using counselors from other schools, help from Indian Health Service, the Crow Tribe and even therapy dogs from as far out as Bozeman.

"Some of the students wanted to go one-on-one, which happens a lot. It depends if they want to converse about their feelings. Some of them are so traumatized they will talk to the dog," Hope Animal-Assisted Crisis Response Team Leader Harry Shlitz said. "There's not negative feedback. They didn't miss a sentence So it's very powerful so you just let the dog work their magic."

Johnson says the district is going to make creating an awareness a main focus.

"You hear people say that can't happen here, or it can't happen to us. And it does happen and it's becoming a greater problem throughout the nation and throughout Montana. No one is immune," Johnson said. "Awareness is what we are going to focus on and what we need to do is to try and make sure the students that we have are going to be equipped with the tools and the mechanisms on keeping themselves safe."

Johnson says there's support today, this week and as long as the students and staff need it. 

A vigil for Not Afraid was scheduled for Not Afraid at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Swords Park in Billings.