Understand Trends in School Violence among Teens

Having graduated during this violent era, I felt it imperative to voice concerns in an area affecting both students currently in school, and everyone with whom these students will eventually come in contact: through employment, residence, acquaintance, and competition.

Violence has become an increased problem in America’s schools. The many incidences have frustrated teachers, administrators, and parents alike. Threats by students filled with rage; suicides from students who think life is pointless; poor grades from being distracted by violence; more absences or acts of submission to those who are prone to violencethese are the ugly results in the cycle, and just who it hurts. Since when does it remain the norm for police officers to patrol school hallways and parking lots, while keeping an eye on the various video cameras strategically located both inside and out of the building? It is high time to realize where it all starts so that drastic measures to ensure safety could be curbed. Although that added protection might bring peace of mind to parents and school employees, it still remains a way to pacify the problem, not correct it. There are, however, ways parents can eliminate violence before their children reach high school age. Altering young minds through the way children are raised, TV shows allowed viewed, the opinions of drugs or alcohol portrayed in the home, the establishment of self-esteem, and encouragement of school involvement are the crucial starting points.

Parents need to enforce stricter discipline and portray stronger values. Children behave at school the way they act at home. This in itself should tell you a little about parents’ involvement in their children’s lives. At home, children act on what they see their parents do. For this reason, parents should openly admit to their failures and mistakes, as well as taking successes lightly and without arrogance. Discipline should be handled fairly and effectively; any forms of anger should not be prolonged and parents should be quick to let their children know that hurtful anger is dangerous as well as wrong. So doing, the children will learn several moral lessons. They learn that mistakes are O.K. and that they can even learn something from themno matter how old they grow. Secondly, they learn not to let their ego engulf personality, and they also learn work ethics. Thirdly, they see that punishment comes with its consequences, and that physical and/or extreme anger is wrong on all accounts.

Through generous funding, many students throughout the country are able to watch television in classrooms. When allowed, most students will flip to either talk shows or cartoons. What they are drawn to is what they know-what they are allowed to see at home. Certain shows gain more young interest than others, and this can be misleading if in the form of cartoons, where children watch all forms of violence and adult content. For this reason, parents should monitor what their children watch, so that they know exactly to what they are being exposed. Any questions that the children might have, parents would be able to answer immediately. By deciding to not let the children watch a show after the parents have seen enough to form a negative opinion, an explanation should be provided, as well as a reminder of what violence can do to people. If parents care enough to do these things for their children early, young minds will have higher outlooks on life, while encouragement in other activities away from TV viewing would further boost positive interaction. Children would learn how to act with peers and adults, and thoughts of violence would more than likely not surface as they reach middle childhood and adolescence.

The usage of alcohol and/or drugs is alarmingly high nationwide, to the point where random drug tests are needed, and breathalyzers have been made mandatory at dances. The attitude is that if children see adults abusing drugs and alcohol, they think it is all right to experiment with them down the road. It is of utmost importance for parents to combat such thoughts at a young age. Children should not have reason to see drugs or alcohol appealing, or used as a means to fit in a group or ranking. Parental use of any drugs or alcohol permits the children to think, “If Mommy or Daddy do it, it must be ok”. Parents who use drugs cannot expect to portray positive examples to their children UNLESS they can admit their abuse and its wrongdoing. Quitting for the sake of one’s children is also a valuable lesson for them to learn. They see that the parents know the bad effects of drugs or alcohol, and that they want to make a change in their lives. Parents should also discuss the use of drugs or alcohol, providing them with facts of what it can do to the body. In addition to the illegal substances, let the children know that misusing prescription drugs can also be harmful. Well-informed children will make soundly reasonable adults.

There are more depressed people than not, increasing dramatically by grade level, teetering on the brink of mental breakdowns. Developing self-esteem should be a top priority to parents. Children should be praised for what they dostarting from birth. Love and affection are the essential things children look to in their parents. If they cannot find what they need in the two most important people in their lives, then what is left for them to do? Whenever parents see their children developing strengths, encourage them. Eventually, they could be pursued and later evolve into the pursuit of higher education in those areas. Feeling good about the self is fundamental in forming a positive self-esteem. No one wants to be told that they are ugly, stupid, fat, thin, boring, or mean. Being told those things as a child is even more damaging in those molding years than any other point in life. It is at that time that children form opinions about themselves, and if they are told negatives about themselves, they will also think negatively. Yet, another aid to this process would be to participation in group activities, family outings, or volunteer work. These will surely bring out positive traits and character can be enhanced by the interaction of youth with youth, or youth with family. When did anyone ever feel poorly about himself when in the presence of good company? Lonely children tend to have lower self-esteem, which they can then carry on to adulthood. Dealing with it early can bring success at all ends.

In response to parental concern, high schools have started to take a stand. They have observed that children deal with most issues in school, and are more violent at high school age, so they have devised ways to take care of conflicts without letting them blow out of proportion. The conflict management program offers solutions to student vs. student problems without the use of violence. Both parties are allowed to express their frustrations to the conflict management mediators, and solutions are up to the dueling students to provide. Peer facilitating remains open to all ages of peers who want someone of youth to talk with about their problems. In addition, students volunteer to travel to elementary and middle schools to assist students there. While adults might seem intimidating and scary, children and/or peers are more than likely to express themselves to someone of similar age with whom they can relate or trust. With both programs in action, there is less room for violence each day. By the time students are home from school, they are already focused ahead to the next day, not dwelling on an incident from that morning.

The suggestions provided can only work if parents and the school systems continue to strive for improvement. If there remains a unanimous intolerance to this problem, perhaps violence will not have enough room to foster and mature, and even the extra security measures could be minimized. As responsible residents and citizens of the United States, all should be done to make a good name for our growing land. Let us make peace, not war.