Just how serious can school violence be? Here are some interesting stats according to the CDC’s School Associated Violent Death Study:
- Around 2 % of all homicides among school-age children can be connected to schools in some way
- Nearly 50 percent of homicide perpetrators made a threat, left a note, or gave some other type of warning prior to the event
- Homicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 5 – 18; some of these deaths can be connected to schools in some way
Here are some other interesting facts about school violence from Do Something:
- In 2011, around 20 percent of high school students were bullied at school
- More than 7 percent of 9th through 12th graders report being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property
- Around 7 percent of teachers report being threatened or physically injured by a student from their school
- In the 2009 – 2010 school year, only 39 percent of schools took serious disciplinary action against a student for special offenses
As we can see from the above stats, and as DaQuall Graham will emphasize, school violence isn't a problem limited to school students; teachers and school staffs are often victims, and very little is being done to prevent school violence.
DaQuall Graham Tips for Preventing School Violence
So, what can be done to reduce or completely eliminate school violence? DaQuall Graham shares some tips:
*Establish and Maintain Relationships: Everyone has an innate desire to belong and to be connected in meaningful ways to others. Every student must have at least one person in their life they’re connected through relationship. Schools offer a unique array of adults across subject areas and disciplines affording an opportunity for every child to be connected in some way to an adult. Looking to connect to students through content areas, commonalities, or even entertainment can enable a child to know that there is someone in the world that cares about me and I can talk to them.
*Be Visible and Vocal Daily: School staff must be physically visible and verbally vocal with students particularly during arrival and dismissal times. A simple “hello” or “how are you doing today” or “I missed you yesterday” provides students with a mild sense of care and belonging. The responses, body language, or facial expressions to these simple questions can provide a lens into what a particular student may be dealing with.
Observe Changes in Student Behavior: Something as simple as a change in student behavior could indicate potential violence in the future; DaQuall Graham says it is very common for young people to experience periods of depression or withdrawal, long before acting on impulse to commit an act of violence.
This can often manifest in form of lack of interest in school, increased absences, or in form of a display of behavioral problems; DaQuall Graham suggests taking action, when you notice these changes, before they become serious.
This has also been proven scientifically, and various studies have linked depression to eventual acts of violence and vice versa. A May 2013 article, titled "Depression And Domestic Violence Linked, Study Finds, But Which Comes First?" that was published on Medical Daily analyzed several of these studies and showed a link between behavioral changes and violence.
2. Support Young, Troubled People: DaQuall Graham also emphasizes the importance of providing support to troubled young people; according to him, children need to experience love, support, and guidance to grow up as sound adults. DaQuall Graham suggests reaching out to troubled children and making a connection to understand and help them; this can go a long way to prevent a tragedy.
3. Identify and Help Victims: Research has shown that bullied kids are more likely to commit crime and act violently, and a recent article, titled "Bullied Kids More Likely to Commit Crimes As Adults", that was published on Live Science analyzed several studies that prove this.
DaQuall Graham also agrees with the findings of these studies, and he says many young people who commit violent acts do so because they were bullied by other students; if you're looking for one more reason to help victims of bullying, then it might help to realize that you'll actually be preventing them from becoming bullies by coming to their aid when they are bullied.
4. Help Students Communicate Effectively
DaQuall Graham also emphasizes the importance of effective communication, and he says that teaching children to properly express negative feelings can help prevent them from acting violently; according to DaQuall Graham, fostering effective communication might not appear to be effective at first, but it's one of the most effective things you can do to prevent school violence.