Opinion: 10 Steps Schools, Parents, and Communities (Without New Gun Laws) Can Take To Prevent More School Shootings
Editor’s note: This was first published on February 16.
As a parent, I understand the desire for hands-on responses to school shootings. I also firmly believe that the government should do more to prevent such incidents from occurring. But the gun control debate has proven so divisive and ineffective that I am tired of waiting for politicians.
I study the kind of aggressive behavior in childhood this often happens before school shootings. That is what research suggests what communities and families can do today to better protect children. Here are 10 things we can all take while the federal government is pulling on its heels.
What schools can do
Because educators observe students’ emotional and behavioral development on a daily basis, they are best placed to identify problematic behavior and intervene. In Los Angeles, for example Schools have successfully used public relations and training to identify potentially violent students before problems arise.
1. Teach social and emotional skills
Children learn social skills in everyday interaction with one another. Playtime teaches young people to control their emotionsTo recognize and negotiate feelings of others. Neighborhood games, for example, require cooperation in order to have fun – all without adult supervision.
Nowadays, frequent social media use and a decrease in free play time has restricted children’s opportunities to learn these basic social skills.
But social and emotional skills can – and should – be taught in school as a way to prevent student violence. Students with more fluid social skills Connect better with others and perhaps be better able to identify troubled colleagues who need help.
2. Hire more school resource advisors and officers
Due to budget cuts, many schools have few or no trained school psychologists, social workers, or adjustment counselors on staff. These mental health professionals are the social ones First line of defense against restless students – especially with the current Increase in depression and anxiety in adolescents.
In my opinion, school officials – trained police officers who work with children – are also helpful for students. While untrained officers can pose a threat to students, well-trained school resources officers can contact children who have few other relationships and act as a support system. They are also there to react quickly if crime or violence breaks out.
Having trained school resource officers and advisors in every school costs money, but I believe it will save lives.
3. Use technology to identify problem students
Technology can challenge children’s social development, but it can also be used for good. Anonymous reporting systems – possibly text messaging – can make it easier for parents and students to alert law enforcement agencies and school counselors to children who appear disconnected or disrupted. This enables early intervention.
In Steamboat Springs, Colorado, such a tip appeared to prevent extreme violence in May 2017. Police took a young man who threatened to hurt his peers into protective custody before he could follow his words.
What churches can do
Municipalities also help with raising children. With many eyes and ears they can often spot minor problems before young people get into violence.
4. Physicians should conduct standard mental health tests
Extreme violence is almost always preceded by certain behavioral problems. This usually includes a tendency to aggression, a highlighted Lack of social connection, Notes on severe mental illness and a Fascination with violence and weapons.
Doctors could identify these problems early with a standardized screening for health checks. If concerns arise, referrals to a counseling center or other psychologist can follow.
5. Hire social media companies to identify threats
Most young people today use social media to express their feelings and desires. With school riflemen these posts are often violent. A single violent post is of course hardly a guarantee for murderous acts. But The evidence strongly suggests that repeated utterance of this type can be a sign of anger.
I would like companies like Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat to develop algorithms that detect repetitive online threats and automatically alert local law enforcement agencies.
Read:What if we solved the gun problem the way we did with cigarettes?
What parents can do
Parents and guardians are often the first to notice their child’s emotional struggles. Here are some tips for monitoring and promoting healthy emotional development at home.
6. Think critically about your child’s use of social media
From virtual war games to cruel trolls, the internet is full of violence. The relationship between violent content and aggression was inconsistent across research: Some studies see no relationship at all, while others find a correlation between violent video games and violent behavior.
This mixed evidence suggests that online content affects children differently, so parents need to judge how well their child is handling it. If your daughter likes Assassin’s Creed but is gentle, socially successful, and happy, the on-screen violence may not affect them much.
However, if your child is attracted to violent games and tends to be aggressive or restless, discuss the situation with your pediatrician or school counselor.
7. Think about what your child is missing out on
Is your child sleeping properly? Do your children have contact with other young people? These two behaviors are linked to mental health in children, and excessive screen time can be reduce or decrease the quality of both.
Make sure digital devices don’t interfere with your children’s sleep and schedule play dates when your kids aren’t making plans of their own.
8. Assess your child’s relationships
Like adults, children also need people they trust in order to feel integrated and connected in their community. The person you trust can be a parent, family member, or friend – just make sure someone plays that role.
For children who are struggling to make friends and build relationships, there is Programs that can help them learn how.
9. Concern about screen time productively
Research shows that excessive screen time can damage children’s brains. This is alarming in part because, realistically, parents cannot completely keep their children away from devices.
So, instead of just fretting about screen time, focus on instead how children can benefit from a variety of activities. There is evidence that children who experience various activities throughout their day – from exercising and music to doing an extracurricular job – are happier and healthier.
10. Talk to your child
This is both the easiest and the most difficult way to make sure your kids are safe. Children, especially teenagers, don’t always want to talk about how life is going. Ask anyway.
My research shows Having kids simply asking about their friends, their technology usage, and their day is an important way to show you care. Even if they don’t answer, your interest shows that you are there for them.
Try it now. Ask your children what they think about filming in Florida and how they like their friends and school. Then listen.
Elizabeth Englander is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC) at Bridgewater State University. This was first published by The conversation – “10 Ways Schools, Parents, and Communities Can Now Prevent School Shootings. “