How Can We Stop School Violence?


MARY E. HOTVEDT, C.M.F.T., PH.D. President-elect, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

I wish I had the complete solution to the complex systemic problem of violence in schools and in American society in general. Multiple changes on every level may have to be made by parents, educators, the students themselves, the media and lawmakers. As a marriage and family therapist, I am particularly concerned with the positive contribution parents can make to help their children navigate the difficulties of adolescence. Wise parents don't let their kids become isolated in an entirely electronic and child-centered world. Instead, they help their children look forward to adulthood by being creative and active adults themselves. These parents know the difference between nurturing and indulging. They hold firm on limits, yet they also encourage their kids to take challenges and risks and accept the consequences of their choices. Most important, these parents know their children, their kids' friends and the families of those friends. They work as a community of parents and not in isolation.

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DAVID SATCHER, M.D., PH.D. U.S. Surgeon General and Assistant Secretary for Health

We possess knowledge and have translated that knowledge into programs that are unequivocally effective in preventing much serious youth violence. Equally encouraging have been our findings that intervention strategies exist today that can be tailored to the needs of youths at every stage of development. There is no justification for pessimism about reaching young people who already may be involved in serious violence. The strongest risk factors during childhood are all individual or family attributes or conditions. During adolescence, the influence of family is largely supplanted by peer influences. Successful interventions must confront not only the violent behavior of these young people but also their lifestyles, which are teeming with risk.

RUTH W. MAYDEN, M.S.S., L.S.W. President, National Association of Social Workers and Dean, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College

Every parent in every urban, suburban or rural community is asking what can be done to stop school violence. We must pull the helping professions together to work with parents, teachers and school administrators and give our children the tools they need to handle the pressures of growing up in today's environment. Social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and others can become partners in advocating with parents and teachers for the kinds of services we need to help our children become healthy, productive adults in a diverse world.

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