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Post your initial reaction, knowing the community and the school have faced tragedy not long ago. Explain your course of action, from the moment you receive the phone call to arriving at the school, to provide continuity in student learning and to maintain a sense of safety and security. What resources would you utilize or mobilize, and with whom would you collaborate to create equitable and inclusive practices that address the crisis while maintaining a safe school culture? Explain your rationale as well as your legal and ethical responsibilities regarding this situation. Explain the consequences of not responding effectively and efficiently.

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CHAPTER FOUR Parent Involvement in Providing Safe Schools Parents are often left wondering what they did wrong in raising their children and bearing the brunt of the guilt for an entire society. In 1997, 1998 and 1999 alone, we have been confronted with several high profile cases of kids killing kids. West Paducah, Kentucky; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Springfield, Oregon, small town names splashed across the global television screens, unknown but for the notoriety of their chil­ dren turning on their peers and committing acts only thought to be attributable to adults. The importance of parental involvement in the lives of children is now needed more than ever before. Parents are the first and most impor­ tant teachers children have, and they reinforce academic and behavioral lessons taught at school. In addition, parental involvement is extremely important in making schools a safe environment for teaching and learn­ ing. School officials must make every effort to promote such parental involvement. Local school officials should include a "parental involvement plan'' in their school system's safe school plans and individual school improve­ ment plans. The parental involvement plan should lay out specific ways to promote and encourage parents to take an active role in the schools. 101 102 Keeping American Schools Safe The North Carolina State Board of Education recommends the following for involving parents in the schools: • Home visitation should be included in school improvement plans. Teachers-individually or as a team-should visit with parents and students in their homes or some nonschool environment. • Employers should recognize the importance of parental involve­ ment in schools and adopt or amend their personnel policies to allow parents to volunteer in their children's schools. • School administrators and teachers need to receive training to help them effectively create and sustain the parent-student­ school relationship. • Appropriate state government agencies need to work together to create a clearinghouse of materials and other resources that local agencies can use to create and implement programs pro­moting better parenting skills. • Schools need to examine all available methods for promoting bet­ter parent-school communications including web sites and email. Tips to Get Parents Involved in Schools Getting parents to participate in anything school related can be a major challenge in today's world. Parents are short on time and energy and often long on outside responsibilities. Betty Anne Coady of Chal­ lenger Elementary School in Issaquah, Washington, and Mary Reynolds of Richmond Elementary School in Salem, Oregon, use a variety of methods that are applicable to any school's parent outreach efforts. Here are some of their suggestions: • Hold meetings on Monday evenings once a month which should be infrequent enough so parents can attend on a regular basis and at a time when parents can be reasonably expected to have gotten home from work. • Hold dual meetings-once in the day and once in the evenings. That way, parents who work day or night shifts, as well as stay at home parents, could attend. • Announce programs early and then follow up with a reminder such as a personal letter or a flyer. Parent Involvement in Providing Safe Schools 1 03 • Promote the educational aspect of the program so parents can learn about what their children are being taught in school and how they can help their children. • Avoid parenting. Instead, teachers need to emphasize that par­ ents are necessary partners in reaching the educational goal of their children. • Post reminders of upcoming meeting on outside bulletin boards. • Provide coffee and snacks at the first meeting and let parents organize refreshments for subsequent meetings. • Provide childcare services. Teacher assistants or volunteers can serve in this area. • Don't use these meetings to corner parents to discuss concerns about individual children. The parents should be the focus. There is a time and a place for discussing their children, but it's not when they are attending volunteer functions. Parent Involvement Reduces School's Behavioral Problems Discipline is a large part of any school administrator's job. This was especially true for Martha Roten when she became principal at Noralto Elementary in Sacramento, California. The school is located in the poorest part of town where half the battle is getting kids to school and past the temptations of drugs and gangs. Not only does Roten get the kids to school but now parents are coming to school. To involve parents in the school was something she decided to focus on eight years ago after conferring with the school counselor and outreach coordinator. She believes her students deserve the credit for getting their parents immersed in the educational process. Many parents have honed their own parenting skills through their involvement at the school. The biggest change to come from parent involvement is the reduc­ tion of behavioral problems. The school now has the fewest suspen­ sions; prior to the parent involvement, it had the highest. Discipline problems have dropped from 50 percent to between 5 percent and 10 percent. As the family connected to the school, the behavioral prob­ lems of the child were eliminated. Parent involvement at the school ranges from attending programs 104 Keeping American Schools Safe to volunteering for office or schoolyard duty. Some parents work in the after-school program. Studies of individual families show that what the family does is more important to student success than family income or education and is the best long-term investment a family can make. When parents become involved in their children's education in a positive way, chil­ dren achieve higher grades and test scores, have better attendance, com­ plete more homework, demonstrate more positive attitudes and behavior, graduate at higher rates, and have greater enrollment in higher education. Parents can become involved in their children's academic/school success by: • Spending quality time with them and taking an interest in their success. • Accepting responsibility for their academic success. • Establishing rules and limitations at home and being consistent in rewarding and punishing. • Understanding and stressing in the home the importance of fol­ lowing school rules and procedures. • Being knowledgeable of state laws (N.C. House Bill 1008­ proper storage of firearms, other school safety and crime pre­ vention laws, school attendance laws, and so on) pertaining to their responsibilities as parents. • Setting high expectations for their children. • Teaching them good work habits, values, and to respect them­ selves and others. • Respecting their children and sharing with them the importance of education. • Supervising and monitoring homework and staying informed about their children's progress. • Serving on activity committees, policy -making boards and vol­ unteering time or resources for school functions. Parenting Practices Children often receive mixed messages from parents and other adults about what is right and what is wrong. The use of material goods to persuade children to behave in one way or to dissuade them from Parent Involvement in Providing Safe Schools 105 behaving in another is one example of sending a mixed message. In such situations, children are bribed by promises of expensive clothing or toys. In addition, today's youth seem surprised when asked if they are required to perform chores in and around their home. Teachers com­ monly report that students relate to them that their parents have told them that they do not have to do what the teacher says, and that if any­ one tries to take something from them or insults them or hits them, they should fight. Unfortunately, many parents admit that they have so instructed their children and are offended that teachers question such directions. These types of parenting are evident across the socioeconomic spectrum. Parenting that indulges, neglects, abuses, or ignores children, and that fails to provide strong, positive guidance, discipline, and nur­ turing, contributes to the spread of violence in schools. Such parenting is seen in families plagued by chronic unemployment and poverty, espe­ cially when parents are concentrating more on the economic survival of the family than on the attitudes and behavior of the children. It is also seen in affluent families that indulge their children's every material request. Lately, it is seen in families where parents do not have quality time to spend with their children because of their job demands. Thirty-six percent of students report that lack of parental super­ vision at home is the major factor contributing to violence in schools. However, 34 percent of them cited as a second major factor gang or group membership or peer pressure. Several recent studies concluded that peer group pressure is perhaps the fastest and most disturbing cause of acts of violence among youth, whether in or out of school. Examining Families Frequently, children's destructive, abusive, or deadly behavior is not restricted to the school. Many of these disturbed juveniles show chronic patterns of violence at home or in the wider family unit. Com­ monly asked questions about such children include: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. What are the parents like? Are the parents responsible? Do the parents seem to care? Are the parents loving and do they reciprocate love? Are they aware of what their children are doing? 106 Keeping American Schools Safe 6. Are the parents credible? 7. Is there a lot of tension, stress, or trauma in the family? 8. Is there a family history of domestic violence? 9. Is there a history of abuse? 10. How does the family resolve disputes? 11. Do they resort to violence? 12. Is there communication among family members? 13. Do the parents expect the school system or justice system or society to raise their children? 14. Are the parents afraid of the child? 15. How does the child get along with family members? Parents must be held accountable at all times; negligent, abusive, or inappropriate parenting can no longer be ignored. The parents must also have effective resources to assist them at times with disturbed chil­ dren. Here is where community mobilization can benefit everyone (this will be discussed in detail in Chapter Five). The sooner we identify these troubled children, the sooner we can help them before they develop into deadly individuals. What Parents Can Do While it may be unfair to blame parents for their children's violent behavior, particularly when those parents are victims of violence too, it's important to note what parents can do to raise healthy, responsible, and nonviolent children. Parents need to be more proactive in their approach to raising children, says John Covey, director of the Home and Family Division of Franklin Covey Company and a former member of the Utah State Board of Education. According to Covey, family is not enough of a priority for too many people; the shaping of children's lives often is too subject to the forces of our wider culture, and the values of that culture-expressed in the popular media-are having too great an influence on children. Parents really are no longer raising their children; the media have control of what is happening in the home. Parents need to take a more active role in shaping the values for their children. Par­ ents can do this by turning off the media and spending more one on one time with them. Essentially, if parents will be more active in their chil­ dren's lives, and pay more attention to them, then children will be hap­ pier, healthier, have better values, and will be less violent. Parent Involvement in Providing Safe Schools 107 Parents have to be confident that if they communicate to their chil­ dren a strong sense of their own values and morals, then their children will develop those same values and morals. Parents can do this by devel­ oping a relationship of trust. Parents have to demonstrate to their chil­ dren how to make and keep commitments, and to apologize when appropriate. They have to give their children a sense of direction, men­ toring them by spending time one on one with them. As family life becomes more defined in these ways, children begin to trust the struc­ ture. When one develops a child in this way, they learn to give and to serve and that work is a spiritual necessity. They come to feel secure and to trust. They live by principles and know what those principles are. In essence, by spending time with children, by developing a rela­ tionship of trust, parents convey a sense of value and importance to their children. This alone can make a world of difference in the life of a child, and can reduce the chances of a child becoming violent. What Do You Do If Your Child Has Violent Tendencies? Even in situations where parents have done the best they can in raising a child, that child may begin to show signs of acting violently and posing a threat to others. In those cases, parents, community and educators face significant challenges. Often their best recourse is mak­ ing sure these children gain access to the many social and psychologi­ cal services that exist today to help troubled youth. Other tips: • Discuss the school's discipline policy with your child. Show you support the rules and procedures. • Involve your child in setting rules for appropriate behavior at home. • Help you child f ind ways to show anger that does not involve verbally or physically hurting others. Serve as a role model espe­ cially when you get angry or upset. • Help your child understand the value of accepting individual differences and cultural values. • Note any disturbing behaviors in your child. You might want to review the profiles of children with violent tendencies in Chap­ ter Two. 108 Keeping American Schools Safe • Frequent behavioral problems at school can be signs of a seri­ous problem. Get help for your child. Talk with professionals, such as the school psychologist or counselor. Show support for your child but do not excuse their inappropriate behavior and most importantly, do not make excuses for such behavior. • Keep lines of communication open with your child. Encourage your child to let you know where and with whom they will be. Get to know your child's friends. • Listen to your child when they tell you things about their friends or children they know who may be exhibiting troubling behav­ ior. Share this information with appropriate people. • Be involved in your child's school life by supporting and review­ ing homework, talking with their teachers, and attending school functions such as parent conferences, class programs, open houses and PTA meetings. • Volunteer to work with school-based groups concerned with vio­lence prevention and intervention. • Find out if a violence prevention and intervention group exists in your community. Offer to participate in the group's activities. Internet Guidelines The Internet is like fire-a wonder and a danger, with ability to enhance lives dramatically or destroy them. Reams of valuable infor­ mation are available at the touch of our fingers on a keyboard. So are pornographers, instructions on how to make a bomb, and sexual preda­ tors who can lure children through chat rooms or e-mail. We are living in the age when many children know more about computers than their parents; the caring adults in their lives need to learn about technology and its potential for danger and violence. Whether families own computers or not, their children will be exposed to the Internet through access at a friend's home, in the schools, or at the local library. Schools and public libraries do have some pro­ tections on their systems to prevent access to certain materials. While some adults are apathetic toward new technology or are intimidated by it, predators and pornographers are getting smarter, developing ways to lure children onto their sites. Parents and guardians who have computers and Internet access at home particularly cannot afford to let technology get ahead of them. Parent Involvement in Providing Safe Schools 109 Whether they know a lot or a little about technology, however, there are several things they can do to protect their families: • Place the computer in a family room, such as the dining room, den or living room, where the family congregates together. This will discourage children from browsing sites where danger lurks. It will help parents remain aware of what their children are view­ ing. • Ask children to teach the family about the Internet. Since the younger generation is more knowledgeable, respect that knowl­ edge and use it to the family's advantage. • Remain aware of young people's activities in "chat rooms," where they can converse electronically with people from all over the world. Know who they are talking to, and about what, to help protect them from predators. • Research blocking programs that can be purchased and used to limit the sites in which children have access. While this is not a perfect solution or a replacement for parents' personal interest in their children's computer activities, it can be a tool to help manage the Internet. These simple guidelines are not enough, however, in an age when technology is racing ahead. If forums to help adults protect the chil­ dren in our country are held near you, attend them. Also, for immedi­ ate advice, call the schools and find out what's available in the way of workshops or in-services for parents. Television Viewing The average elementary age child spends 30 hours per week view­ ing television. By 16, the average child will have witnessed 200,000 acts of violence and by 18, approximately 40,000 sexually explicit scenes. Ninety-eight percent of American homes have at least one televi­ sion set, which is watched each week for an average of 28 hours by chil­ dren between the ages of two and 11, and 23 hours by teenagers. Children who grow up in lower-income families, with fewer organized activities, watch more television than their more affluent peers do. Chil­ dren admit that certain television shows encourage them to engage in sexual activity before they are ready, behave aggressively, and to be dis­ Keeping American Schools Safe 110 respectful to adults. Eighty percent of Americans who responded to a 1993 Times-Mirror Poll said they believed television was harmful to society and especially to children. Why do parents or guardians con­ tinue to allow their children to watch so much television? Children become immune to violence because they have watched so much on television. What most children are seeing on television can't be good for them (Clinton, 1996). George Gerbner, former dean of the Annenberg School of Com­ munication at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of the Media­ Research Cultural Indicators Project and the International Cultural Environment Movement, is profiled in an article in the May 1997 Atlantic written by Scott Stossel. Gerber says that violence is about power; that violence on television serves as a lesson of power that puts people in their places. Gerbner further explains that we live in a world which is erected by the stories we tell and, by extension, it is erected by the stories we are told. This is changing; the stories we are told now are not told to us by our parents, school, church or community but by a relatively small group of global conglomerates with something to sell. This alters in a very fundamental way the cultural environment into which our chil­ dren are born, grow up, and become socialized. Defenders of television argue that children are subjected to vio­ lence in other media-including fairy tales and other literary classics. However, the tradition of storytelling embodied in fairy tales and mod­ ern children's literature assists in developing in children a moral base. Parents can help keep their children from being exposed to violence on television by establishing some parameters. These might include: • • • • • • • • • • • No television before school. No television after dinner. No television during dinner. Nobody can sit too close to the television. No fighting over the best seat for television viewing or channels to watch. Television is only for weekends. No turning the channel when someone else is watching. The television can only be on until 9:30 each night. You can't turn on the television just because you're bored. Only two shows a day. No television that's really scary. Parent Involvement in Providing Safe Schools 111 Effects of Media Violence on Children Media violence: • Causes an increase in mean-spirited, aggressive behavior. • Causes increased levels of fearfulness, mistrust, and self-protec­tive behavior toward others. • Contributes to desensitization and callousness to the effects of violence and the suffering of others. • Provides violent heroes whom children seek to emulate. • Provides children justification for resorting to violence when they think they are right. • Creates an increasing appetite for viewing more violence and more extreme violence. • Fosters a culture in which disrespectful behavior becomes a legit­ imate way for people to treat each other. Guidelines for Helping Children Deal with Violence in the News • Trusted adults play a vital role in helping children sort out what they have heard and need to figure out. Let children know it's okay to raise these kinds of issues with you. Older children might benefit from a regular time built into the week when they can raise and talk about these issues. • Don't expect young children to understand violence as adults do. When you work on these issues with children, try to find out as much as you can about what each individual child knows and understands or is struggling to understand. Then base your responses on what you find out. • When children hear about something scary or disturbing, they sometimes relate it to themselves and start to worry about their own safety. Even when you cannot make a situation better, reas­ sure children about their safety-for instance say, "That can't happen to you because your parents have always __ ." This kind of reassurance is what children most need to hear. • Answer questions and clear up misconceptions but do not try to give children all the information available about a news story. The best guide is to follow the child's lead, giving small pieces 112 Keeping American Schools Safe of information at a time and seeing how the child responds, before deciding what to say next. • Look for opportunities to help children learn alternatives to the violence they hear about on the news. One effective way to do this is to point to examples from the children's own experiences. For instance, you might say, "I really get angry when people solve their own problems by hurting each other. Remember when you got really angry with Gary for __? You didn't hurt him. You told him __." It is also important to make positive conflict resolution a regular part of the week. • Recognize and support young children's efforts to work out what they have heard through their play, drawing and other activities. This, regardless of anything else you can do, can play a very ther­ apeutic role for children. • Keep teachers and school counselors informed about your efforts to work with your children on troubling news events. Violent Media and Stimulus Addiction Dr. Paul Gathercoal, media literary expert at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, explains how fast-paced, violent tele­ vision and video games may be habit-forming and eventually addictive. He draws upon recent brain research on the chemical-neurological con­ nection and makes these important points: • The difference between drug addiction and stimulus addiction is that with stimulus addiction the drugs (endorphins) are already inside the body; they simply need to be released. • These endorphins are released in response to stress and to emo­tional experiences. • An optimum level of endorphin release is maintained through everyday social interaction with the environment and its people, its challenges, its beauty and the successes and stresses of life. • When a stimulus is emotion laden, new and exciting, the brain's reticular activating system alerts the cerebral cortex that this is worth special notice, and undivided attention is given to the stimulus. Many media messages, especially violent images, have by their very nature the characteristics of being emotionally provocative and exciting. Parent Involvement in Providing Safe Schools 113 • Constant and prolonged exposure to fast-paced violent media can affect children in two ways. First, they may become addicted to these endorphin-activating stimuli. They may actually physi­ cally need their daily fix of media violence. Second, they can build up immunity to media induced emotional stresses and become incapable of producing socially acceptable emotional responses in the real world. What Do You Do If Your Child Is Addicted to Violent Media? It is imperative to keep young children away from violent media, especially, violent video games. Start children out with television pro­ grams and videos and analytic, nonviolent, computer and video games. Make sure they use their heads more than their trigger fingers. Violent and Analytic Video Games Learning higher order thinking skills, like problem solving, planning and organizing, is an important developmental task during early adoles­ cence. Analytic video games such as puzzles, mazes, treasure hunts, and stimulation games can help develop these types of skills. Violent video games, however, which rely almost entirely on the player's reflex responses, may develop hand-eye coordination, but will provide very little practice for higher-level thinking skills. Over time, some children may become habituated to this nonthinking, quick response model of problem solving. Without adequate mental practice during this developmental time in a child's life, the child's ability to acquire mature higher thinking skills and effective problem-solving abilities may be compromised. Video Games Send the Following Messages ... • Problems can be resolved quickly with little personal investment. • The best way to solve a problem is to eliminate the source of the problem. 114 Keeping American Schools Safe • Look at problems in terms of black and white, right or wrong. • Use instinctual behaviors to react to problems, not thoughtful behavior. • Personal imagination is not an important problem-solving skill. • It is acceptable to not question the game's rule-driven reality. Contrast the above with what children can learn from analytic video games: • Problems are solved through patience, personal initiative, per­ severance, and tolerance. • Gathering information requires work and thinking through ideas. • Defining and solving problems involves complex thinking skills. • A solution in one instance may not work as a solution in another instance. • Skills such as planning actions, organizing information, pre­ dicting outcomes, experimenting with trial solutions, evaluating solutions and their consequences are important skills. • Use personally generated thoughtful responses to solve prob­ lems. • Use imagination and thinking abilities to cocreate, with the game's writer, inventive situations. Most parents can see the importance of monitoring video games and violence media. Be sure you know what video games your child is playing with and constantly evaluate them for appropriateness. T he market is flooded with violent video games and they are very enticing to adolescents. It's your responsibility as a parent to make sure your child is not overexposed to violence. Weapons Guns and other weapons clearly are a hazard to a safe learning environment and the welfare of human beings. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, every day 14 young people, age 19 and under, are killed as a result of gun use. According to the "Met­ ropolitan Life Survey of the American Teacher, 1993; Violence in Amer­ ica's Public Schools," 11 percent of teachers and 23 percent of students Parent Involvement in Providing Safe Schools 115 say they have been victims of violence in or near their schools. While the elimination of guns and weapons from school is the responsibility of all segments of the school and society, parents specifically can assist in eliminating weapons from the school grounds by: • Teaching their children about the dangers and consequences of guns and weapons, and keeping all guns and weapons in the household under lock and key and away from children. • Supporting the school's policies to eliminate guns and weapons and working with the school to develop programs to prevent violence. • Checking bookbags and other belongings for weapons or guns. • Teaching children how to solve disagreements without resort­ing to violence. • Following school guidelines in reporting guns and weapons seen or heard of to the appropriate adult. America Under the Gun As we begin the 21st century, reports of violence in our schools and offices seem to be coming at us at an alarming rate. A Newsweek poll found that 81 percent of respondents believe gun-related violence in schools has increased in recent years. The blame is placed on a vari­ ety of factors: poor parenting (57 percent), violence in the media (52 percent), the prejudice and preaching of hate groups (46 percent), and the increased availability of guns and other weapons (48 percent). There are more than 200 million guns in circulation in the United States, and more than a third of American households have one. About two thirds (64 percent) of respondents with kids under 18 were very or somewhat concerned about their kids being harmed or getting into trou­ ble while visiting their friends' homes. Sixty-two percent thought it was very or somewhat likely that a shooting incident could happen in their community. Despite their concerns, many have doubts about the effectiveness of tougher gun-control laws. Theories differ about where young people get their guns. School security experts and law enforcement officials estimate that 80 percent of the firearms students bring to school come from the home, while stu­ dents estimate that 40 percent of their peers who bring guns to school 116 Keeping American Schools Safe buy them on the street (54 percent). The Chicago-based Joyce Foun­ dation commissioned Louis Harris Research, Inc., to conduct a poll which found that only 43 percent of parents who own a gun and have children under 18 years of age keep those guns safely locked (55 per­ cent). An estimated 1.2 million elementary-aged children, latchkey kids, have access to guns in their homes (56 percent). Therefore, one way to reduce youth violence may be to restrict the flow of handguns to adults. There have been several proposals about parents being liable and accountable if their children commit a violent crime. At this time, there are mixed feelings about what this would accomplish. Anyone whose child commits a heinous crime, like the parents in Littleton, suffers their own brand of punishment-greater than anything legally punishable does. A good resource on gun-violence is an educational packet offered by the National Emergency Medicine Association. The program is over a year old and recently there has been a lot of interest in it. The intent of the program is to stress the consequences of gun violence among youth. It portrays scenarios in which children might encounter a gun, and then it shows what happens when guns are used: the disfigurement, the pain of therapy and rehabilitation, and the emotional pain that gun violence causes friends and family. Parents might check with their schools to see if they have or can obtain the program. The program is very useful and appropriate at PTA and community meetings. Drugs We cannot educate our children in schools where drugs threaten their safety. For students to learn well, their schools must be disciplined and feel safe. W hile most schools do provide a secure learning envi­ ronment, a growing number of communities-urban, suburban, and rural-are experiencing problems with violence and with alcohol and drug use. What Can Parents Do? Parents play a huge role in the interconnected social tapestry of raising children successfully. Research shows that kids view parents as their most influential role models. A study also shows that 74 percent of all fourth graders wish their parents would talk to them about drugs. Parent Involvement in Providing Safe Schools 1 17 Overwhelmingly, research demonstrates that kids want parents to be parents, and that is the best deterrent in the fight against drugs. Spending time with your children-talking about their friends, school, and activities; asking them what they think about anything from music to Columbine-is a proven deterrent to drug use. Research shows that knowing your children, who they hang out with and their parents as well, dramatically reduces the likelihood that they will get in trou­ ble with drugs. Another effective deterrent is praising and rewarding them for good behavior. Tell your children you love them. Go out for pizza or have the family sit down at the table for a meal instead of watching television. Get to know the music your child listens to and let them talk about the lyrics: are they really appropriate language; do they contain violent themes? Keeping children drug-free is achieved in a series of small, personal ways. Family Violence Current research now shows that children who witness family vio­ lence act in a similar way to those children who have personally expe­ rienced abuse. Outwardly, they tend to be more aggressive and antisocial, with problems of anger and temper. Inwardly, children tend to be fearful, inhibited, anxious, depressed and in general have a low self-esteem. Generally, boys tend to act out more than girls; girls tend to internalize more than boys. Preschool children often regress and act younger. Infants often suffer from attachment disorder and are not able to bond with their parents. So what can be done in the way of prevention and intervention? Children can be taught to contact 911 and the appropriate information to give. T hey can have a plan for a safe place to go (their bedroom or a neighbor's home). Teaching children not to intervene during a vio­ lent situation is imperative. Some violence is a learned behavior; there­ fore, children can be taught conflict resolution skills and encouraged to find peaceful ways to solve conflicts. Teaching little ones verbal skills such as "No, that is mine" or "Stop that, you're hurting me" is better that hitting or pushing or bullying in the situation. For those children who have already been exposed to family violence, they need to be able to talk about those scary events or act them out. Those children are in need of a trusting and nurturing adult relationship to heal the insecurities resulting from family violence. A structured and Keeping American Schools Safe 118 predictable home environment will help the child who has been in a chaotic or dangerous environment. Predictable daily routine will allay the fear and mistrust that the child has already developed. Violence is not a simple cause-and-effect event. It is a multidi­ mensional event affecting all who directly or indirectly experience it. Children trust adults to protect them, and they deserve to live and learn in a safe environment. Warning Signs of Children Living in a Violent Home • Unusual or unexplained injuries, or injuries which are at different stages of healing. • Chronic illnesses, headaches or stomachaches. • Signs of neglect, such as poor hygiene or dirty clothing. • Withdrawal (for example, playing alone and having no friends). • Depression or low self-esteem. • Use of violence to solve conflict. • Sleeping too little, too much or during school. • Flashbacks or nightmares. • Difficulty expressing emotions other than anger. • School problems, including lengthy absences. • Acting overly responsible (as if the child is the adult in the fam­ ily). Warning Signs for Teenagers • • • • • Running away from home or dropping out of school. Sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy or prostitution. Joining a gang, committing crimes, using weapons. Problems with alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. Talking about or attempting suicide. Warning Signs for Preschool Children • Frequent crying. • Wanting to be held all the time or stiffening when held. Parent Involvement in Providing Safe Schools 119 • Frequent hitting, biting or kicking. • Stuttering. • Regression (return to thumb sucking or bed-wetting). Warning Signs for School-Age Children • • • • • Trouble concentrating at school. Unusual knowledge of sex or violence for their age. Fighting, bullying or self-abuse. Stealing, cheating or lying. Regression (seeking constant attention, using baby talk). W hat Can Parents Do? • Be role models. Many children who grew up with violence credit a relative or friend's parent with showing them a better way and giving them love. • Family support. Being close to brothers, sisters or other relatives helps children feel loved and needed. • Community support. Positive youth activities and mentoring programs give children a chance to learn new skills. It also helps them have a sense of purpose in life and build self-esteem. • Therapy. Can help family members rebuild self-esteem, learn to trust again and develop healthy ways to express emotions. Ther­ apy for children may include play therapy, drawing and one on one counseling. National PTA Addresses School Violence In response to incidents of school-based violence across the coun­ try, National PTA President Lois Jean White issued a call to action to the 6.5 million members. She has charged PTAs to take the lead in bringing communities together to discuss school violence and the deeper issues driving children to commit violent acts. The National PTA devel­ oped a new Community Violence Prevention kit to help PTAs orga­ nize town meetings and community forums on this issue. Each new PTA president will receive this booklet as part of the annual resources 120 Keeping American Schools Safe for PTAs. The information can also be found on the National PT.A's website at www.pta.org/events/violprev. Our children are anesthetized to violence, to pain, to guilt. Tele­ vision programs, video games and movies numb children to reality. Statements that movies contribute to the problem anger moviemakers. Partly, they are justified; we cannot blame the crisis entirely on the tele­ vision and movie industry. We cannot blame it entirely on the media. We cannot blame it entirely on the availability of guns, either. Listening to debates rage on all sides, the crisis with our youth is the fault of so many diverse elements. Each industry fights to protect itself, feeling the problem is not of its doing. W hat they and we fail to see is the whole thing-listening to only parts of a conversation can be misleading ... looking at only parts of an issue can be deadly. As parents, educators, peers, and legislatures come to terms with the violent tragedies taking place among our youth, someone must step back from the pain, the shock, and the confusion and see the whole sit­ uation. All too often, though, we race frantically for someone to blame. We've lived in complacency for so long that we want, we need, to have someone else solve our problems for us. How many children must die in their schools, on their streets, in their homes before we wake up and take charge? Stop allowing your children to watch violence and death in their entertainment. Give up some of what you may want in order to give your children socially, positive programming choices. Monitor the music and the video games and the Internet sites your children use. Don't give in and allow your children to do what they want because it's easy. Some music is just too harmful, some video games too deadly, some web sites too angry. Love your children and show them this love in the way you are raising them. Be good role models-tiny eyes and ears are always watch­ ing and listening. Chapter Five, "Schools, Parents, and Communities Working To­ gether," provides strategies for creating a school community, commu­ nity involvement, community needs assessment, and collaboration. Also in the chapter, an example of collaboration within a community is shared. School Pre'IJention and Inter'Vention 69 behavior (Chapter Two), hate groups and lack of tolerance for other races was an identifying trait of students who are likely to become vio­ lent. 7. Involve other agencies. Involve the juvenile justice department and invite the presiding judge to be on the school safety committee. In Orange County, California, a judge passed an order stating that the Justice Department can share information on minors with schools. Ken­ tucky parents or guardians must notify the school if their child is arrested. In North Carolina, students entering a school for the first time must produce a signed notarized document stating that they have never been arrested for a felony. A safe schools plan is a continuing, broad-based, comprehensive and systematic process to create and maintain a safe, secure and wel­ coming school climate, free of drugs, violence and fear; a climate which promotes the success and development of all children, and those pro­ fessionals who serve them. Among the components of an effective school safety plan are pro­ cedures for drug prevention, student leadership, parent participation, school security, community outreach and nuisance abatement. Included in the safe school plan should be specific policies and guidelines for student behavior. These guidelines are typically called a code of conduct for students and are included in student and parent handbooks. More lives have been saved than lost by enforcing the stan­ dards of conduct on student speech, dress, verbalization of hate, weapons, search and seizure, discrimination, and other areas. Policies on all of these matters not only must be clearly communicated to students and their parents but also enforced fairly through disciplinary action consistently and equally applied. Policies and procedures to prevent violence are useless if they are not clearly publicized to stu­ dents and followed and consistently enforced by teachers and adminis­ trators. Crisis Plan Crises occur whether we plan for them or not, and it is unlikely that any school will escape the necessity of responding to a signifi­ cant crisis. However, because crises are usually unanticipated, crisis plan­ ning frequently gets lost in the day to day routine of operating a school. 70 Keeping American Schools Safe A crisis can be defined as a sudden, generally unanticipated event that profoundly and negatively affects a significant segment of the school population and often involves serious injury or death. Although experience has taught us we lack control over such events, we can prevent unnecessary turmoil. Planned schoolwide crisis man­ agement can significantly reduce disruption during times of high stress and can prevent catastrophic events from escalating into chaos. In sit­ uations affecting a smaller number of students and staff, or those in which the school serves primarily as a back-up to law enforcement, a structured response by a trained team or staff members can minimize damage and facilitate the return to a normal daily routine. Any death or significant trauma to a student or staff member affects members of the school and community; however, most of these are essentially private griefs. In these cases, classroom attention, grief coun­ seling and other routine support services offered by the school will suffice. From the administrator's point of view, these events do not con­ stitute a crisis. A crisis in one school setting may not be considered a crisis in another school setting. In times of crisis, administrators will want to disrupt the school routine as little as possible to effectively control the situation. Develop­ ing a crisis management process is a significant step in making our schools safe. Establishing a Crisis Plan It is extremely important that the school staff and administrators make advance plans for crisis situations. A school that is prepared before a crisis occurs will be much more likely to deal with students and staff effectively. The following steps should prove helpful in developing a crisis management plan: Decide who will be in charge during the crisis. Select your crisis response team. Develop clear and consistent policies and procedures. Provide training for the crisis response team. 5. Establish a police liaison. 6. Establish a media liaison and identify suitable facilities where reporters can work and news conferences can be held. 1. 2. 3. 4. School Prevention and Intervention 71 7. Establish a working relationship with community health agen­ cies and other resource groups. 8. Establish phone trees. 9. Plan to make space available for community meetings and for outside service providers involved in crisis management. 10. Develop necessary forms and information sheets. 11. Develop a plan for emergency coverage of classes. 12. Establish a code to alert staff. 13. Develop a collection of readings. 14. Have the school attorney review crisis response procedures and forms. 15. Hold a practice crisis alert session. 16. Hold an annual workshop or in-service course on general cri­ sis intervention. A comprehensive crisis plan for dealing with situations should include: • A crisis response team with clearly defined duties. • A plan for evacuating the school. • A plan for coordinating with and notifying police, elected officials, government agencies, and proper authorities. • A plan for notifying parents quickly. • A media/communications strategy. • Counselors available to deal with students in the aftermath of a traumatic event. Zero Tolerance Policies Three-quarters or more of all schools reported having zero toler­ ance policies for various student offenses. A zero tolerance policy can be defined as one in which a school or district mandates predetermined consequences or punishments for specific offenses. About 90 percent of schools reported zero tolerance for threats, weapons and firearms. Eighty-seven percent had zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol. Seventy­ nine percent had zero tolerance for violence and tobacco. Apartment Fire Apartment Fire Program Transcript [PHONE RINGING] DAVID: Hello? MIKE: David, it's Mike. Tonya asked me to call. Sorry to call so late. DAVID: No problem. What's happening? You wouldn't have called if there weren't an emergency. MIKE: True. There's been a fire at the Grand City apartments. 20 families are displaced, and 8 of our high school students are affected. There's some kids in real desperate need. I'd like to open up the gym of the high school for families. DAVID: Of course. Do we know if anybody's been hurt? MIKE: There are several severe injuries. Part of the building collapsed. They're extracting people as we speak. DAVID: All right, I'll be there in about 10 minutes to open up the gym, and I'll alert the janitorial staff as well, all right? OK, I'll see you there. © 2016 Laureate Education, Inc. 1
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After receiving the phone call, my first response would be to call the school management
and inform them of the fire crisis then proceed immediately to the school to open the gym for the
fire victims. I will then organize for the affected students and kids to be attended to and those
with severe injuries to be rushed to the nearby hospitals and health facilities for emergency
medical attention. I will mobilize the school community and welcome them to help in supporting
the affected families and students. Community partnership is very important when it comes to
crisis response and helping victims of disasters both financially, emotionally and materially. To
ensure continuity in student learning, I will develop a continuity of operations plan such as

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