Preventing School Violence

Preventing School Violence

Many parents know that from their child’s first day of school, his or her
safety is out of their hands. “They disappear into a world of mysterious
cliques and rivalries, of grievances rendered in the primary colors of
adolescent emotions and animated by comic book fantasies.”(Adler 36) Parents
try to become familiar with their children’s friends, but are not sure how to
keep track of his or her enemies as well. This impotence causes major concern.
Even though school related killings have statistically dropped over the past
five years, there have been half-a-dozen significant school-shooting incidents
in the last sixteen months. (Cloud 38) Sociologists are trying to determine why
this frightening rash of school shootings now seems to be a U.S. phenomenon, and
how following basic procedures, such as: forming school policies and operations
directed at curbing violence, determining early warning signs of distressed
students, and discussing safety precautions when danger in evident in school
societies, can prevent more of these violent encounters from occurring.

Although most are safe, the violence in neighborhoods and communities has
somehow found its way inside the schools. “If it is understood what leads to
violence, and the types of support shown effective in preventing it, schools can
be made safer.”(Mulrine 24) Sociological research teams can help school
communities, administrators, teachers, families, students, support staff, and
community members recognize warning signs early, so children can get needed help
before it is too late. (Rosenberg 34)

Well-functioning schools foster learning, safety, and socially appropriate
behavior. They have a strong academic focus and support students in achieving
high standards. In effective schools, most prevention programs address multiple
factors and recognize that safety and order are related to children’s social,
emotional, and academic development. (Drummond 29) Effective prevention
strategies operate best in school communities that focus on academic
achievement, involve families in meaningful ways, develop links to the
community, emphasize positive student-staff relationships, and discuss safety
issues openly. Treating students with equal respect by creating ways for them to
share their concerns and feelings, which may include abuse or neglect, as well
as identifying and assessing progress toward solutions, can also be helpful.
Sociological research shows that school communities can do a great deal to
prevent violence. Having in place a safe, responsive foundation helps all
children—and it enables school communities to provide more efficient,
effective services to students who need more support. (Easterbrook 54) The next
step is to learn the early warning signs of troubled children so that sufficient
interventions can be provided.

According to sociological studies there are early warning signs in most cases
of violence to self and others. Although teachers, administrators, and other
staff are not professionally trained to analyze children, they are on the front
line in observing troublesome behavior, making referrals to appropriate
professionals, and responding to diagnostic information. (Marcus 26) Thus,
effective schools train the entire school community to understand and identify
early warning signs.

When staff seek help for a troubled child, when friends report worries about
a peer or friend, when parents raise concerns about their child’s thoughts or
habits, children can get the help they need. “By actively sharing information,
a school community can provide quick, effectual responses.”(Rosenberg 34)

Sociologists say that educators and families can increase their ability to
recognize early warning signs by establishing close, caring, supportive
relationships with children—getting to know their needs, feelings, attitudes,
and behavior patterns. (Mulrine 24) Together, educators and parents can review
school records for negative patterns or sudden changes in behavior.

According to sociologists, some other typical early warning signs of possible
destructive behavior can be social withdrawal, excessive feelings of isolation
and rejections, being a victim of violence, being picked on, loss of interest in
school, uncontrolled anger, prejudicial attitudes, gang affiliation, and serious
threats of violence. “No single warning sign can predict a dangerous act will
occur.”(Lantieri 79) Rather, imminent warning signs usually are presented as a
sequence of overt, serious, hostile behaviors or threats directed at peers,
staff, or other individuals. These signals are usually visible to people in the
child’s school community as well as his or her family.

When warning signs indicator danger is threatening, safety must always be the
first and foremost consideration. Action must be taken immediately. Intervention
by school authorities and possibly law enforcement officers is needed without
delay when a student has presented a detailed plan to harm or kill others,
especially if the child has a history of violence or aggression, is carrying a
weapon, and has threatened to use it. (Devine 109)

After recent fatal shootings in some schools across the country, educators
have been taking drastic actions to increase