Violence in Schools: Do Parents Prepare Their Kids to Protect Themselves or Does the Responsibility Lie with the School?

I decided to research what is available online in regards to the topic of violence in schools. I did a search on the popular search engine: Google. At the time of my search query, there are 68,300,000 relevant links to the keyword phrase “violence in schools”. Is violence in schools a popular topic? How does it compare to say, lunch in school? Wow, the phrase “school lunch” returned 3,510,000 links. The phrase “school shopping” revealed 413,000 links. This little experiment on the popular Google search engine would lead one to believe that yes, according to how much information is available online in regards to school violence, that it is indeed an important topic. I am assuming here that the amount of information available on a topic in relevant to how important it is. Do parents who send their children to school, think that the topic of school violence is important? Do parents think about protecting their kids from violence when they are making their back to school preparations? I wonder how often a parent sending a child to public school thinks about preparing that child on things other than how to study, how to listen in class, how to participate in physical education, what to wear, or how to make friends? Do they consider the possibility that they should prepare the child in regards to how to react if facing down the barrel of a gun? What to do if a stranger approaches them? Do parents speak to their children about what to do if violence breaks out on the school bus, or if they overhear a classmate talking about doing something violent at school? Or is it simply that preparing kids for going back to school involves buying new backpacks, pencils, notebooks, new clothes, shoes and other material items?

As a home school parent, I do not have to prepare my children to face the issue of violence in school; but the parents of the neighborhood kids, my children play with, do. These neighborhood kids are important to my children and over the years I have come to love their freckled faces and runny noses. I would like to think that my daughter’s friends are safe at school. I investigated a bit more to find out just how widespread the problem is:

I found this article headline: Safety tops teen survey results, By MetroWest Staff
Appearing in the online version of the paper on 7/12/2006

A quote from the article says: “More than three in five teenagers in Commerce City think violence is a problem in their schools.”

This survey would suggest teens are aware of the issue of violence in the schools they attend.

Tony Dobrowolski, a member of the Berkshire Eagle Staff, in Pittsfield, MA wrote an article about Pittsfield Schools receiving a $2.8 million grant to fight violence in their schools.

Another recipient of the grant is the Duluth School District in PA. The school intends to use the grant to purchase security cameras, safety door locks for classrooms, radios for school buses, and teacher training among other uses. An article addressing this grant appears in the Duluth News Tribute 7/13/06 and is written by Will Ashenmacher, who is a News Tribune Staff writer.

Links to the online articles mentioned above can be found in the Resources section for this article. Keeping the public informed on topics like school violence is a responsibility of media, such as newspapers. Reading the articles becomes our responsibility. Parents need to be informed about events that have in the past and could occur in the future, at the schools attended by their children. Events such as shootings, sexual assault, and physical abuse by another student or an adult can and do happen in schools all around the United States and other countries.

What are the statistics on violence in our schools? According to the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence NCCEV (www.nccev.org), in 2001 a survey of high school students revealed that 17.4% had carried a weapon to school during the 30 days prior to answering the survey questions. In 1999, one out of six teachers report having been victimized by violence in or around the school facilities. Nationwide, 15% of high school students had participated in a physical fight in 1998. These are the statistics according to the NCCEV site. Can parents ignore these statistics? Do they think that their children cannot possibly be among any of the current statistics involved in school violence incidents? If you think these statistics happen in other cities, other school districts; do a search of past articles for your local newspaper for the past school year and take a good look at what has happened recently in your area. Unless we are looking for these articles, how many of us overlook them as we scan for the comics, classified, sales ads, or the sports stats?

The problem of violence in schools is not limited to occurrences in the United States. I found articles concerning this issue that were from other countries as well; Malaysia, Czech Republic, Jamaica, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. The problem seems to be worldwide. Our youth are experiencing violence in a place, which should be teaching them about subjects that are fundamentally taught; subjects like math, science, geography, art, music. Is surviving violence a subject that parents are aware they are exposing their children to? Some parents may say that the world is full of violence and that children must learn that being exposed to violence is to be expected. Has violence become such an accepted part of everyday life, that we have become desensitized to the occurance of violence and merely hope that it happens to someone else. Do we see violence in school as much a part of every day reality as we view the occurrence of life and death? Do our children need to have first hand experience with the subject of violence while they are as young as 5, because we have begun to accept the topic of violence in school as being common place?

So, I am curious, do parents think about what exposure their children will face this coming school year? Do parents include violence preparedness on their list of things to do, to ready their children to return to school in the fall? I did a small survey of moms on an online forum to find out. Not even one mom said that she spoke to her kids about how to stay safe in regards to any potential situations while attending school. Some even stated that it was the school that taught the kids what to do if they should witness any violent acts against themselves or others. I know my survey was a small sample and perhaps a larger participant pool, would have included some individuals who felt the need to address this issue with their children. My query though to this particular group of moms gave the answer, that no, these particular moms were not preparing their children on how to respond to any violent incident they may experience at school. Perhaps, they know of the occurrence of violence in some schools, but feel, that it won’t happen in their child’s school. Perhaps, they feel, that if they do not think about violence, it won’t happen in their schools. Perhaps, they feel like teaching their children how to be prepared for violence, is much like expecting the school to teach their child how to read, write and do math problems. Is violence in school, something you think about? So, it would appear that according to my investigation, school violence is a topic being discussed online with some importance given the topic. It would also appear, that at least according to my small survey, preparing their children to be prepared in case school violence occurs at their school is not something they do at this time. Most parents seem to view it to be a school system responsibility to prepare their children to deal with school violence, should it occur. What about you, if you are a parent, do you feel it is your responsibility to prepare your child to deal with what may happen at school; including dealing with possible school violence?

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