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Health & Parenting

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Strong School Ties May Keep Kids From Risky, Violent Behavior


But for parents, the implications are clear: "Promotion of involvement is a good thing and certainly won't harm the child," she says. "I think parents should be perceptive of child's health behaviors: Are they getting calls that the child is going to the school nurse often, or is the child smoking cigarettes?"

Parents can then start promoting better health beliefs and practices, Bonny says.

Statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics show that among adolescents aged 12 to 17, there were 2.7 million crimes committed at school including 253,000 serious violent crimes and 60 school-associated deaths from 1997 to 1998.

But the most recent statistics suggest that school crime and violence is actually going down, says June Arnette, associate director of the National School Safety Center in Westlake Village, Calif. "Indicators show that kids are safer in school than anywhere else," she tells WebMD.

"After Columbine, everyone wanted to get into profiling and trying to predict who has violent characteristics, but there was quite a backlash," she says.

There are not necessarily predictors but there are a number of early warning signs to help identify at-risk children, she says.

"Most of these kids ... had recent relational problems such as a breakup with a girlfriend or boyfriend or had told someone about their plan, so there was some knowledge that this person was planning a violent act," she says.

The children may have also been picked on and constantly bullied, so the violence is their way of striking back.

Most schools have implemented "threat assessment protocols" so that when a child makes a threat, school personnel and psychologists can then start collecting data and deciding what to do with it.

Then the psychologist may "call them into the office and tell them what they have heard, and try to get the parents involved," she says.

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