How Can We Stop School Violence?

Deals with the views of three organization leaders in the United States (U.S.) on the problem of school violence. Mary E. Hotvedt of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy; David Satcher of the U.S. Department of Health; Ruth W. Mayden of the National Association of Social Workers.

By PT Staff, published on July 1, 2001 - last reviewed on January 23, 2015

ON 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.

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.