Signs of Violence  taken from: (the National Crime Prevention Council)


The mix has become appallingly predictable: volcanic anger, no skills to vent the anger or ease the pain, no trusted adult to turn to, and accessibility of firearms. Result: dead and wounded students, faculty, and staff at schools in all parts of our nation. We can all help prevent these tragedies in three ways: violence prevention (not reaction) programs in every community; young people taught by all of us how to manage anger and handle conflicts peaceably; and guns kept out of the hands of unsupervised kids and treated as hazardous consumer



But the relatively small number of school-site homicides is only the tip of an iceberg that could cost our children their futures and our communities their civic health. Violence in our schools -- whether it involves threats, fistfights, knives, or firearms -- is unwarranted and intolerable. Children deserve a safe setting to learn in. Teachers and staff deserve a safe place to work in. Communities deserve safe schools that educate kids and help keep

neighborhoods safer.


For some schools, violence may be a minor issue; for others, it may be a daily presence. Though the most extreme forms of violence are rare, the threat of all kinds of violence can keep students away from school, prevent them from going to after-school events, and leave them in fear every day.


To make our schools safer, everyone can and must pitch in -- teachers, parents, students, policy makers, law enforcement officers, business managers, faith leaders, civic leaders, youth workers, and other concerned community residents. Each of us can do something to help solve the problem. And it's a problem we all must solve. What can you do to stop school violence? This page links to six starter lists of ideas. Some require only individual action; some require concerted effort. Some address immediate issues like kids bringing weapons to school; others address the problems that cause violence. Consider these lists a launching pad. There's lots more that can be done. We've listed resources that can provide even more ideas and help in carrying them out. On your own, with a group, with your child, with a classroom full of children -- whatever you do, there's something here you can do. Anything you do will help.



Watch for Signs... Take Action


Know signs that kids are troubled and know how to get them help.

Look for such signs as:

·         Lack of interest in school

·         Absence of age-appropriate anger control skills

·         Seeing self as always the victim

·         Persistent disregard for or refusal to follow rules

·         Cruelty to pets or other animals

·         Artwork or writing that is bleak or violent or that depicts isolation or anger

·         Talking constantly about weapons or violence

·         Obsessions with things like violent games and TV shows

·         Depression or mood swings

·         Bringing a weapon (any weapon) to school

·         History of bullying

·         Misplaced or unwarranted jealousy

·         Involvement with or interest in gangs

·         Self-isolation from family and friends

·         Talking about bringing weapons to school


The more of these signs you see, the greater the chance that the child needs help. If it's your child and he or she won't discuss these signs with you, see if a relative, a teacher, a counselor, a religious leader, a coach, or another adult can break the ice. Get help right away. Talk with a counselor, mental health clinic, family doctor, a psychologist, religious leader, the school's dean of students, or the office of student assistance. The faster you find help, the more likely the problem can be resolved.


Not your child? Recognizing these signs in any child should set off alarm bells for any community member. If

you know a child well enough to notice these changes, constructively express concern to the parent(s), who may already be taking action and would welcome your support. If parents appear disinterested, speak to the child's teacher or counselor.






Big Brothers Big Sisters of America 

230 North 13th Street 

Philadelphia, PA 19107 


215-567-0394 (fax)


Boys & Girls Clubs of America 

1230 West Peachtree Street, NW 

Atlanta, GA 30309 


404-815-5789 (fax)


Bureau of Justice Assistance Clearinghouse 

PO Box 6000 

Rockville, MD 20849-6000 



Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence 

Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado 

Campus Box 442, Building #10 

Boulder, CO 80309-0442 


303-443-3297 (fax)


Educational Resources Information Clearinghouse 

National Library of Education 

U.S. Department of Education 

600 Independence Avenue, SW 

Washington, DC 2002-0498 



Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse 

PO Box 6000 

Rockville, MD 20849-6000 



National Association of Police Athletic Leagues 

618 North US Highway 1,

Suite 201 

North Palm Beach, FL 33408 


561-863-6120 (fax)


National Center for Conflict Resolution Education 

Illinois Institute for Dispute Resolution 

110 West Main Street 

Urbana, IL 61801 


217-384-8280 (fax)


National Clearinghouse on Alcohol and Drug Information 

PO Box 2345 

Rockville, MD 20852 



National Crime Prevention Council 

1700 K Street, NW, Second Floor 

Washington, DC 20006-3817 


202-296-1356 (fax) or






National Injury Control and Prevention Center 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

1600 Clifton Road, NE 

Atlanta, GA 30333 


404-639-1623 (fax)


National Institute for Dispute Resolution 

1726 M Street, NW, Suite 500 

Washington, DC 10036 


202-466-4769 (fax)


National PTA 

330 North Wabash Avenue, Suite 2100 

Chicago, IL 60611 



National School Safety Center 

4165 Thousand Oaks Blvd, Ste 290 

Westlake Village, CA 91362 


805-373-9277 (fax)


National Youth Gang Information Center 

Institute for Intergovernmental Research 

PO Box 12729 

Tallahassee, FL 33217 


850-386-5356 (fax)


Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program 

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education 

U.S. Department of Education 

Portals Building, 600 Independence

Ave, NW 

Washington, DC 20202-6123 


202-260-7767 (fax)


Street Law, Inc. 

918 16th Street, NW, Suite 600 

Washington, DC 20006-2902 


202-293-0089 (fax)


Teens, Crime, and the Community 

1700 K Street, NW, Second Floor 

Washington, DC 20006-3817 

202-466-6272, x152 or 161 

202-296-1356 (fax)


Youth Crime Watch of America 

9300 South Dadeland Blvd, Ste 100 

Miami, FL 33156 


305-670-3805 (fax)



U.S. Dept. of Health and Human





This list highlights just a few of the more recent documents that offer ideas about programs and strategies that can help reduce or prevent violence in schools, as well as information on the problem. They in turn

offer referrals to still more sources of information and ideas. Many of the organizations listed above will send free catalogs listing all their publications.


                Arnette, June and Marjorie C. Walsleben. Combating Fear and Restoring Safety in Schools. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. April 1998. (NCJ 167888).


                Drug Strategies, Inc. Safe Schools, Safe Students: A Guide to Violence Prevention Strategies. Washington, DC: Drug Strategies, Inc. 1998.


                Heaviside, Sheila, Cassandra Rowand, Catrina Williams, and Elizabeth Farris. Violence and Discipline Problems in U.S. Public Schools: 1996-1997.  ashington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. March 1998. (NCES 98-030).


                Kenney, Dennis J. and T. Steuart Watson. Crime in the Schools: Reducing Fear and Disorder with Student Problem Solving. Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum. 1998.


                Lockwood, Daniel. Violence Among Middle School and High School Students: Analysis and Implications for Prevention. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. 1997. (NCJ 166363)



                U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice. Creating Safe and Drug-Free Schools: An Action Guide. Washington, DC. 1996. Electronically available through or, or by calling 800-624-0100.


                Zimmer, Judy, Terrence W. Modglin, and Jean F. O'Neil. Teens, Crime, and the Community: Education and Action for Safer Schools and Communities, Third Edition. Cincinnati, OH: West Educational Publishing (a Thomson International company). 1998.

12 Things Parents Can Do

Help stop school violence with this starter list of ideas. Some require only individual action; some require concerted effort. Some address immediate issues; others address the problems that cause violence. Consider this list a launching pad -- there's lots more that can be done.

  1. Recognize that keeping firearms in your home may put you at legal risk as well as expose you and your family to physical risk. In many states, parents can be held liable for their children's actions, including inappropriate use of firearms. If you do choose to keep firearms at home, ensure that they are securely locked, that ammunition is locked and stored separately, and that children know weapons are never to be touched without your express permission and supervision.
  2. Take an active role in your children's schools. Talk regularly with teachers and staff. Volunteer in the classroom or library, or in after-school activities. Work with parent- teacher-student organizations.
  3. Act as role models. Settle your own conflicts peaceably and manage anger without violence.
  4. Listen to and talk with your children regularly. Find out what they're thinking on all kinds of topics. Create an opportunity for two-way conversation, which may mean forgoing judgments or pronouncements. This kind of communication should be a daily habit, not a reaction to crisis.
  5. Set clear limits on behaviors in advance. Discuss punishments and rewards in advance, too. Disciplining with framework and consistency helps teach self- discipline, a skill your children can use for the rest of their lives.
  6. Communicate clearly on the violence issue. Explain that you don't accept and won't tolerate violent behavior. Discuss what violence is and is not. Answer questions thoughtfully. Listen to children's ideas and concerns. They may bring up small problems that can easily be solved now, problems that could become worse if allowed to fester.
  7. Help your children learn how to examine and find solutions to problems. Kids who know how to approach a problem and resolve it effectively are less likely to be angry, frustrated, or violent. Take advantage of "teachable moments" to help your child understand and apply these and other skills.
  8. Discourage name-calling and teasing. These behaviors often escalate into fistfights (or worse). Whether the teaser is violent or not, the victim may see violence as the only way to stop it.
  9. Insist on knowing your children's friends, whereabouts, and activities. It's your right. Make your home an inviting and pleasant place for your children and their friends; it's easier to know what they're up to when they're around. Know how to spot signs of troubling behavior in kids — yours and others (see page viii).
  10. Work with other parents to develop standards for school-related events, acceptable out-of-school activities and places, and required adult supervision. Support each other in enforcing these standards.
  11. Make it clear that you support school policies and rules that help create and sustain a safe place for all students to learn. If your child feels a rule is wrong, discuss his or her reasons and what rule might work better.
  12. Join up with other parents, through school and neighborhood associations, religious organizations, civic groups, and youth activity groups. Talk with each other about violence problems, concerns about youth in the community, sources of help to strengthen and sharpen parenting skills, and similar issues.



12 Things Students Can Do

Help stop school violence with this starter list of ideas. Some require only individual action; some require concerted effort. Some address immediate issues; others address the problems that cause violence. Consider this list a launching pad -- there's lots more that can be done.

  1. Refuse to bring a weapon to school, refuse to carry a weapon for another, and refuse to keep silent about those who carry weapons.
  2. Report any crime immediately to school authorities or police.
  3. Report suspicious or worrisome behavior or talk by other students to a teacher or counselor at your school. You may save someone's life.
  4. Learn how to manage your own anger effectively. Find out ways to settle arguments by talking it out, working it out, or walking away rather than fighting.
  5. Help others settle disputes peaceably. Start or join a peer mediation program, in which trained students help classmates find ways to settle arguments without fists or weapons.
  6. Set up a teen court, in which youths serve as judge, prosecutor, jury, and defense counsel. Courts can hear cases, make findings, and impose sentences, or they may establish sentences in cases where teens plead guilty. Teens feel more involved and respected in this process than in an adult-run juvenile justice system.
  7. Become a peer counselor, working with classmates who need support and help with problems.
  8. Mentor a younger student. As a role model and friend, you can make it easier for a younger person to adjust to school and ask for help.
  9. Start a school crime watch. Consider including a student patrol that helps keep an eye on corridors, parking lots, and groups, and a way for students to report concerns anonymously.
  10. Ask each student activity or club to adopt an anti-violence theme. The newspaper could run how-to stories on violence prevention; the art club could illustrate costs of violence. Career clubs could investigate how violence affects their occupational goals. Sports teams could address ways to reduce violence that's not part of the game plan.
  11. Welcome new students and help them feel at home in your school. Introduce them to other students. Get to know at least one student unfamiliar to you each week.
  12. Start (or sign up for) a "peace pledge" campaign, in which students promise to settle disagreements without violence, to reject weapons, and to work toward a safe campus for all. Try for 100% participation

Facts About Violence Among Youth
and Violence in Schools

Taken from (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


April 21, 1999

CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) has been working with the federal agencies and other partners in response to the President's charge to collectively come up with the solutions to youth and school violence. In addition, CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion studies youth violence on an ongoing basis.

CDC, and the U.S. Department of Education, Department of Justice, and the National School Safety Center have examined homicides and suicides associated with schools and identified common features of school-related violent deaths. The study examined events occurring to and from school, as well as on both public or private school property, or while someone was on the way or going to an official school-sponsored event. The original study published in 1996 yielded these findings:

  • Less that 1% of all homicides among school-aged children (5-19 years of age) occur in or around school grounds or on the way to and from school.
  • 65% of school-associated violent deaths were students; 11% were teachers or other staff members; and 23% were community members who were killed on school property.
  • 83% of school homicide or suicide victims were males.
  • 28% of the fatal injuries happened inside the school building; 36% occurred outdoors on school property; and 35% occurred off campus.
  • The deaths included in this study occurred in 25 states across the country and happened in both primary and secondary schools and communities of all sizes.

Our society demands that schools be safe for our children, yet recent violent events indicate we need to redouble our efforts to prevent violence in schools at the same time we address violence in the larger community.

What CDC is doing to address this problem?

CDC and its partners are updating and expanding the original study, examining school-associated violent deaths between July 1994 and June 1998.

Study results to date show that there were 173 incidents between July 1, 1994 and June 30, 1998. The majority of these incidents were homicides and involved the use of firearms. The total number of events has decreased steadily since the 1992-1993 school year. However, the total number of multiple victim events appears to have increased. During the past three school years, August 1995 through June 1998, there were an average of five multiple victims events per year. This is compared to an average of one multiple victim event per year in the three years from August 1992 through July 1995. Thus, while the total number of events of school associated violent deaths have decreased, the total number of multiple-victim events appears to have increased. Data collection ended with the completion of the 1997-1998 academic year.

CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), is a school-based survey designed to producea nationally representative sample of risk behaviors among students in grades 9-12.

The 1997 YRBS reported that:

  • 8.3% of high school students carried a weapon (e.g., gun, knife, or club) during the 30 days preceding the survey, down from 26.1% in 199
  • 5.9% of high school students carried a gun during the 30 days preceding the survey
  • 8.5% of high school students carried a weapon on school property during the 30 days preceding the survey
  • 7.4% of high school students were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the 12 months preceding the survey.

Other facts from the 1997 YRBS report included:

  • Nationwide, 4% of students had missed 1 or more days of school during the 30 days preceding the survey because they had felt unsafe at school or when traveling to or from school.
  • The prevalence of weapon carrying on school property on 1 or more of the 30 days preceding the survey was 8.5% nationwide. Overall, male students (12.5%) were significantly more likely than female students (3.7%) to have carried a weapon on school property.
  • Nationwide, the prevalence of students who had been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property one or more times during the 12 months preceding the survey was 7.4%. Overall, male students (10.2%) were significantly more likely than female students (4%) to have been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property.
  • Nationwide, 14.8% of students had been in a physical fight on school property one or more times during the 12 months preceding the survey. Overall, male students (20%) were significantly more likely than female students (8.6%) to have been in a physical fight on school property. This significant difference was identified for white and Hispanic students and all grade subgroups.
  • Approximately one third (32.9%) of students nationwide had property (car, clothing, or books) stolen or deliberately damaged on school property one or more times during the 12 months preceding the survey.

CDC's School Health Policies and Programs Study (SHPPS) provides information about school health policies, including violence prevention. The 1994 SHPPS showed that among all school districts, 91 percent have a written policy prohibiting student violence and 80.3% have a policy that specifically addresses weapon possession and use among students.

CDC continually monitors the status of homicides of youth and adolescents as well as those homicides committed with a firearm.

CDC has supported firearm injury surveillance projects in seven states that focus on the development of state systems for routinely monitoring firearm injuries and related risk behaviors (e.g., safe storage, carrying weapons). The information generated from these surveillance systems will help policy-makers in states assess the magnitude of the firearm injury problem and evaluate programs and policies designed to prevent firearm injuries.

CDC has supported research that addresses firearm-related injuries. This research was designed to improve understanding of the motivations and deterrents for weapon carrying behavior among adolescents at high risk for firearm-related injuries; to estimate the injury risk associated with firearm storage and carriage practices; and address the effects of firearm safety training and education programs on firearm storage and carriage practices.

CDC is conducting research to prevent both youth violence and firearm-related violence. As an example, CDC has been conducting research to determine which interventions work to prevent violence among youth, both in schools and in the community. CDC will consolidate these evaluation projects on the prevention of youth violence and provide it to programs throughout the U.S. to show what works to prevent youth violence.

Preliminary findings include the following:

  • Baseline surveys confirm that violent behavior is a problem for young people. For example, four projects reported that 10% of participants had recently carried a gun. Moreover, there was a general concern about exposure to violence in schools and neighborhoods.
  • The full involvement of the community is critical to developing a sense of ownership for the problem of violence and its solutions.
  • The projects found that effective strategies include school-based curricula that emphasize the development of problem solving skills, anger management, and other strategies that help kids develop social skills. In addition, parenting programs that promote strong bonding between parents and children and that teach parents skills in managing conflict in the family, as well as mentoring programs for young people, are also very promising.


Explaining Acts of Brutality by Youngsters:
Why Do Teens Kill?
Taken from (ABC News)


“You find out that lots of young people knew that this was a kid who was having trouble with the issues of violence, but they didn’t feel they had anyone to talk to. ” — Geoffrey Canada

Luke Woodham

Luke Woodham is accused of killing his mother, then going to school and shooting nine students in Pearl, Miss. (Rogelio Solis/AP Photo)

By Tristanne L. Walliser,

May 24 The news is starting to become uncomfortably familiar.

     A school shooting in Pearl, Miss., last October left two dead.

     A shooting spree at
Heath High School in West Paducah, Ky., last December left three students dead. In March, in Jonesboro, Ark., four students and a teacher were killed after a brutal ambush.
     And now the most recent news that 15-year-old freshman, Kipland Kinkel, has been charged with fatally shooting two students in his high school cafeteria and murdering his parents.

     In each attack, a boy under the age of 16 was charged.

     Now these communities are struggling to find out why the violence happened and whether it could have been prevented. Experts, too, are searching for an explanation.

     Although statistically speaking, violence is decreasing in public schools, the brutality of the acts and the youth of the suspects are raising serious questions.

     What is motivating kids to kill? Are we seeing a new culture of violence where kids can no longer distinguish between fantasy and reality? And how can communities prevent such attacks in the future?


·        Access to Guns: Too Easy

Many experts are blaming easy accessibility of guns. Young people can easily buy firearms in their communities—whether rural, suburban or urban.

     “I think the key ingredient here is the issue of access to handguns and fire arms in general,” Geoffrey Canada, president of the Rheedlan Centers for Children and Families, said on ABCNEWS’ Good Morning America today.

     “It turns this issue from an 13-year-old and 11-year-old who have a chip on their shoulder into murderers. If these people don’t have access to the weapons, you end up with young people maybe getting into a fist fight or maybe being disciplined, instead of the tragedy we have today,” he said. In
Jonesboro, an 11-year-old and 13-year-old were charged.

     “Availablity of guns is a huge problem,” said Dr.Cheryl Olson, a writer who covers public health issues and studies school violence. “If they had been using knives, they might have killed one person instead of this ambush. Behind a gun, you have a certain detachment.”

     “In the 1990’s, we are seeing increasing visitation of violence in unexpected places in suburban and rural
America,” added Dr. Ronald Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center.

     “We are also seeing a transition from fist-fights to gunfights to a barrage of bullets and ammunition; from six shooters to shotguns to semi-automatic firepower.”


·         A Culture of Violence

But others suggest access to firearms is just one part of the picture. Gun control may just be a band-aid solution for larger societal problems that need to be addressed, they say.

     “We are in a culture where kids are learning to solve their problems and deal with anger through violence,” said Dr. Howard Spivak, chairman of the American Association of Pediatrics Task Force on Violence, also speaking today on ABCNEWS’ Good Morning

     “And they aren’t learning other strategies to deal with the stresses,” he said. “Kids (are) more vulnerable because of the level of violence they’re exposed to themselves, family violence, excessive violence through excessive media watching, exposure to violence in their communities.”


·        Kids With No One to Talk To

But while it is easy to blame vicious acts on the ready availability of firearms and the influence of media violence, some experts contend the focus should be less on the larger picture and more on the individual situation.

     “Young people really don’t feel that there are safe places where they can talk to adults about these issues,” said
Canada. “The adults tend to look at these issues as maybe happening in other communities and no one’s really focused on the fact that it’s happening in all of our communities across this country.”

     “We shouldn’t wait to have these kind of incidents to really sit down and talk with our boys about the issues of violence and how you handle interpersonal disputes. You find out that lots of young people knew that this was a kid who was having trouble with the issues of violence, but they didn’t feel they had anyone to talk to.”

     In addition to feeling alienated, many of these kids have also been victims of abuse.
     “The perpetrators are often victims of abuse and neglect, primarily from parents and other adults,” said Dr. Stephens. “It’s a very common theme. In 80% of the cases it has been the case.”