School Violence: Expert Advice on What Can Be Done
What can parents do to make the situation better? continued...
Frustration and self-esteem are also big issues. Even something
that seems innocuous -- like those candles on a birthday cake that you can't
blow out -- a kid can feel very frustrated by that. A sensitive kid can feel
like 'they're playing too many tricks on me.' It's the kind of thing parents
have to watch. And teasing, again -- the hostile element of teasing is very
overt -- it can especially affect sensitive kids, affect their self-esteem.
Their reactions to bad situations may be to do something very grandiose. Like
the Rambo movies: 'I'm going to go out and shoot all the bad people.' That's a
grandiose response against feeling so weak inside.
Shaming is another issue. When something minor happens, parents
need to speak to their kids, but it's another thing to make a kid very ashamed
-- [to feel] that they're a terrible person for doing this minor thing. It
doesn't have to do with strictness; it has to do with emotional communication
that a parent has with a child. 'I may be punishing you, I may be setting
limits, but I still respect you as a person.'
S. Hoffman: Parents need to be very alert to what their
kids are doing. It's not easy -- being a teenager is a time when kids want to
push parents away, do their own thing, live their own lives. But parents must
find a way to stay involved. They need to know their kids' peers, what they're
doing, that they are supervised. They need to be there for their kids and
listen. They also need to talk to kids about the issue of violence. Ask their
kids: "What would [you] do if a peer was thinking about it? Would you come
to me, to someone at your school?" Help kids identify a plan. And talk to
the schools -- what are they doing?
What can schools do?
Fink: There are 22 high schools in Philadelphia, and
they all have metal detectors. It's the most humiliating thing. Can you imagine
kids lining up at 8:30 am in front of metal detector every day? Yet they're not
addressing the major problems related to youth violence.