Education World: Preventing Violence and Risk Behavior
Subject: Fwd: Education World: Preventing Violence and Risk Behavior
Preventing Youth Violence and Risk Behavior: Author Sounds Off
EducationWorld is pleased to present this e-interview with Franklin Schargel, EducationWorld contributor and author of Creating Safe Schools: A Guide for School
Leaders, Teachers, Counselors and Parents.
Do risky and antisocial youth behaviors relate to each other, or share a common origin? (Behaviors include bullying, cyber-bullying, substance use, unsafe Internet activity, violent school incidents, risky sexual activity, suicide, truancy and youth gambling.)
Risky and antisocial behaviors are interrelated. When schools focus on a single behavior, let’s say bullying, there is also a need to connect bullying to truancy and then to suspension and then to dropping out.
What can schools do to address the root causes of these problem behaviors? (What can they do to address and diminish student safety problems?)
Schools are dealing with an increasing number of disaffected, disconnected young people. They are disconnected from their families, from society and school. They exist in all economic and social classes. An increasing number of students come from non-traditional families and learn in non-traditional ways.
Traditional discipline techniques do not work with these non-traditional learners. Schools need to adjust the way they deal with disruptive students with problem behaviors. Suspending students who are habitual truants simply rewards students who wish to be out of school and results in placing these young people in unsupervised homes or in the street. Properly supervised in-school suspensions where students do assigned work is one answer to the problem.
Many young people have emotional and psychological problems that families and society are not addressing. We need more mental health workers in school to address these young peoples’ needs.
Are most schools getting things right or wrong when it comes to preventing and responding to students’ violent and risky behaviors? How can schools improve what they’re doing?
Times have dramatically changed and many schools haven’t adjusted to these changes. Traditional discipline based on ‘do what I say or I will suspend you’ doesn’t work on children who have been abused, threatened, bullied or have seen loved ones killed. School violence is no longer taking place in the inner cities. It has occurred in rural and suburban areas. Few people heard of Sandy Hook, Columbine or West Paducah Kentucky before violence struck. People say, “I didn’t think it could happen here.” Schools and communities need to be prepared for preventing violence. (I am not only addressing issues like gun violence but suicide and bullying as well.) School safety plans need to be in place and reviewed regularly to ensure that the best current practices are in place.
We leave in an age of meanness – politicians are mean to each other. Football players are accused of being paid bonuses to injure and perhaps end the careers of their opponents. Some families experience violence as a daily occurrence. Schools reflect society. So is it unusual for students to be mean to each other? Our society has become more violent.
Why did you feel the need to write Creating Safe Schools: A Guide for School Leaders, Teachers, Counselors and Parents? What help does the book offer schools?
I was a classroom teacher, school counselor and school administrator who worked all of my professional life in New York City high schools. In one school where I worked, 50 students were killed on their way to school or on the way home. A student was shot and paralyzed by an intruder. In another school, a student was killed as he fought to protect his jacket. Fortunately, most educators and most schools do not experience what I did. But our students are the most vulnerable innocents in any society. We need to protect them from any violence.
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