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Simple Steps to Keep Out Violence

September 10, 2000

Students, parents and teachers can take concrete steps to keep their campuses free of violence, say safety consultants Rick Gale and Eric S. Bianchi. Among the steps they recommend:

Five Things Students Can Do

* Take ownership of your school. Don't allow campus crime to go unnoticed. Report any crime immediately to school authorities or police.

* If you find other students behaving or talking in a violent or destructive manner, report it to a teacher or counselor. You may save someone's life.

* Learn how to manage your own anger effectively. Learn ways to resolve conflict and settle arguments by talking it out, working it out or just walking away.

* Work with others to settle their disputes peaceably. Join peer mentoring/conflict management programs that teach others the skills to resolve conflicts.

* Welcome new students and help them feel at ease. Introduce them to other students. Get to know at least one student unfamiliar to you each week.

Five Things Teachers Can Do

* Report to your principal any threats, signs of or discussions about weapons, gang activity or other situations that might invite violence.

* Learn about the resources available within your district and community to get a troubled child the necessary help.

* Do not permit name-calling or teasing. Insist that students treat each other with respect. Do allow students to take part in developing the standards of acceptable behavior.

* Learn and teach conflict management skills.

* Encourage students to report crimes or suspicious activities. Maintain an environment in which students feel safe doing so.

Five Things Parents Can Do

* Look for changes in your child's behavior.

* Find out what's wrong if you see your child withdraw from friends and family activities.

* "It's essentially not the bully kids" who become violent in school, Bianchi said. Loners and kids who get bullied in school pose a greater danger of becoming violent, he said.

* Paying attention to children's writing is also important. When parents or teachers notice that a child chooses to write about destructive things in his or her essays, alarm bells should go off.

* Substance abuse plays a big role as well. Youngsters suffering from depression often use drugs to numb their feelings and become violent as a result.

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