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Preventing school violence       Send a link to a friend

Syndicated column from The Parent Institute

[MAY 12, 2006]  Q: We are hearing about school violence -- again. The problem doesn't seem to be going away and there appears to be a connection with bullying. I am a parent of two boys, one in elementary school and the other in middle school. I'm concerned about their safety and also about the learning environment at school when there are safety concerns. What can I do as just one parent to help prevent school violence?

A: Your concern is valid. No one likes to think about school violence, but recent tragedies remind us all that we need to pay attention to it. However, parents should keep in mind that, according to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, students were more likely to be victims of crime away from school than at school.

Although we like to think of childhood as a time of innocence, it is true no longer. Experts call violence a "learned behavior." Most children learn about violence through the media or through violent toys. A report in the April 2005 issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine stated that the more television 4-year-olds watch, the greater the likelihood that they will become bullies later on.

School safety requires parents and schools to work together. Here are some specific things parents can do:

  • Stop thinking "It can't happen here." School violence may happen in the smallest town.

  • If your children talk about a school bully, pay attention. Most school violence involves bullies. If you suspect a bully is harassing your child -- or that your child may be a bully -- contact the school and work together.

  • If you have guns in your home, lock them up. Keep ammunition in a separate place, locked with a separate key.

  • Talk with your children often and keep your nose in their lives. Too many busy parents have tuned out -- with tragic results.

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  • Monitor the television programs your children watch, and eliminate violent shows. Get the TV out of their bedrooms. Generations grew up successfully with no television, and your children will thrive with carefully selected programming.

  • Avoid physical punishment. It encourages bullying by teaching that violence and being victimized are OK.

  • Help your children learn ways to resolve conflicts without violence. From the very earliest grades, children should be taught how to disagree respectfully and how to work together to resolve conflicts.

  • If you suspect your child may be a bully, take action right away. Talk with your child about the behavior you expect. Be a role model. Make it clear that your family does not tolerate behavior that hurts other people physically or emotionally.

You may think that you, as just one parent, can do little to prevent school violence. But ultimately, individual parents doing their part with their own children right at home are the only solution that's sure to work.

[The Parent Institute]

For more information about helping children learn or to submit your own question, go to All questions will receive a prompt answer by e-mail.

Copyright 2005, The Parent Institute

"Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful Children" is a free, syndicated column from the Parent Institute.

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