School Violence: Expert Advice on What Can Be Done
Kids have always been bullied at school, and adolescence has never been easy. Why are we now, at this time in America, seeing such a huge wave of school shootings? continued...
L. Hoffman: Kids with troubles read about these
incidents and see an amount of glorification -- that people won't listen to me
now, maybe they'll listen to me this way. But why one kid does something like
this and another kid doesn't ... it's very individual. Predicting it is like
predicting the weather. Little changes that go on in a kid's life can lead to
good consequences or bad consequences.
Teasing is a very common factor in these incidents. Teasing can
be very, very destructive. In a school where I do consultations, teasing is
absolutely forbidden. As soon as it happens, the teacher stops the activity and
talks about it with the students: "How would you feel if somebody teased
you? Can you imagine how the other kid feels if you tease him?" Teasing has
to be dealt with as a group situation.
S. Hoffman: Easy access to weapons; kids feeling
alienated and bullied at school, misunderstood by the people around them --
those are just some of the causes. Kids are also exposed to violence in the
media and video games, which may desensitize them to the realities of those
actions. And these kids don't see any alternative. They see violence as a way
of resolving their own internal pain.
What can parents do to make the situation better?
Fink: Poor parenting is part of this issue. My advice to
parents is to pay attention, listen to their children. Hear their pain; listen
to their complaints. At the Columbine incident, a ... kid was warned that there
would be a shooting. Also, parents have to be vigilant, have to watch what
their kids are doing. We want to allow children to grow up and be free, but we
have to watch what they are watching, their Internet access, the Game Boys.
L. Hoffman: Probably the most important lesson for
parents -- and teachers, too -- is to listen to kids. These are kids who are in
tremendous pain. It's the internal pain that really gets them going -- the need
to undo that internal pain. We underestimate the power of listening and saying
'I'm going to help you,' and when necessary, referring them for professional