Violence in Schools: What Can Parents Do? - Families ... generations of strength
Why Does it Happen?
Explanation for youth violence - four goals of students’ violent behavior:
Retribution - punishing the “offender” for something she or he did.
Compliance - convincing the “offender” to stop an offensive behavior or course of action.
Defense - of one’s self or others.
Promotion of one’s image - by saving face, defending one’s honor, or enhancing or maintaining one’s reputation.
The thought processes behind each goal may be difficult to comprehend, so it is important to remember the immaturity of the youths’ thoughts. The violent youth is able to justify his behavior through his immature beliefs and life inexperience.
What Can Be Done?
There is no sure way of keeping kids safe in school, just as there is no sure way of keeping adults safe in the workplace. The downward spiral of school safety did not happen overnight. Consequently, most aspects cannot be immediately fixed. There are, however, some measures parents can take.
“I don’t understand what’s happening with our kids today,” a tearful mother lamented after a 14 year-old used a shotgun to shoot out the front doors of his high school. In this incident no one was hurt. Increasingly, though, tales of tragic school shootings dominate media headlines. Each incident brings a sense of despair and bewilderment. Why is this happening? Can the violence be stopped?
Violence on the Rise
Schools have, except for the occasional playground fight or classroom bully, been safe havens. Today, youth violence has increased dramatically both on and off school grounds. Almost 20% of all violent crime arrests in 1994 involved a child under the age of 18. Between 1985 and 1994, the risk of a 15- to 19-year old dying from a firearm injury more than doubled. In a two-year period (1992-1994), 105 school- associated violent deaths were reported.
In 1994, firearm injuries were the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10 to 24 years.
While firearm incidents attract most of our attention, other types of crime are being reported on a daily basis.
Twenty-five percent of eighth and ninth grade students have witnessed threats to teachers. Of sixth through twelfth graders, 12% say they were victims of physical attack, robbery or bullying in school. Fifty- two percent of secondary school principals report that their schools are struggling with serious gang problems. Ten percent of kindergartners through twelfth graders are attacked verbally or physically on a regular basis. The statistics paint a
fairly bleak picture.