Violence Prevention in Our Schools: Promoting a Sense of Belonging
The issue of school safety and school violence has received attention for a number of years. Certainly the tragedy at Columbine High School dramatically heightened interest in what steps could be taken to lessen the likelihood of such violence occurring in the future. Understandably, school shootings attract national and international attention, but we must not be blinded to the reality that less sensational expressions of anger and intimidation occur on a daily basis in our schools, expressed in such forms as teasing and bullying.
The reasons that children inflict physical and emotional pain on their peers are complex and vary from one child to the next. The picture is also complex when we consider how best to deal with angry, violent youth. When a shooting occurs, when a child is taunted or beaten by other students, it is easy to focus our attention on safety measures such as the installation of metal detectors or cameras in the corridors or to hold assemblies in which the concept of respect towards others is extolled and consequences for acts of intimidation are outlined. I wish to make it clear that I strongly support appropriate safety measures and I believe that each school and each community are in the best position to decide what actions are appropriate and, of course, legal. I also believe that values such as respect towards oneself and others should be openly discussed in a school community and that guidelines must be clearly defined for transgressions.
However, as most of us are aware, there are limits to these measures. Metal detectors, cameras, and similar devices provide some protection and that should not be minimized, but they fail to address what I consider to be a vital component of school safety and violence prevention, namely, the relationship that we develop and nourish with each student. When students do not feel connected with school staff, then discussions we have with them, even about themes of respect and kindness, do not have the desired impact. I recall an angry adolescent I interviewed several years. He described a classroom dialogue that centered on bullying and treating others with respect. He said, “If only some of the teachers knew how they came across to us. Some are sarcastic, don’t say hello to you, and always assume you did something wrong. It’s hard to take them seriously when they talk about respect and kindness.”
Permission to reprint granted by Dr. Robert Brooks. All rights reserved.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- The Homework Debate
- Social Cognitive Theory
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- First Grade Sight Words List