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Posted at 9:30 AM ET, 12/11/2009

Warning signs of violence at school

By Valerie Strauss

The Justice Department just issued a new guide for school communities with strategies to help prevent and respond to school violence.

The guide came out just days after a student walked into a class at Northern Virginia Commmunity College at Woodbridge and shot at his teacher--missing because the gun jammed--because of a poor grade.

Schools tend to single out students who are bullied or who exhibit mental health problems as potential violent perpetrators, the guide says. The key is focusing on the behaviors the individual is engaging in, not personal characteristics.

Those who display the following signs should be referred to appropriate agencies or individuals such as counselors, parents, law enforcement, and social, medical, and mental health services.

These signs simply mean that a child appears to be troubled, and violence might be one of the possible outcomes of this distress. Identifying signs neither stigmatizes children or assumes that they will be violent just because they are at risk for such behavior. Other warning signs may also exist.

This list is not all-inclusive, and certain items and combinations may be far more indicative of a potential problem than others.

The signs include:

• Has engaged in violent behavior in the past

• Has tantrums and uncontrollable angry outbursts abnormal for someone that age

• Continues exhibiting antisocial behaviors that began at an early age

• Forms or maintains friendships with others who have repeatedly engaged in problem behaviors

• Often engages in name calling, cursing, or abusive language

• Has brought a weapon or has threatened to bring a weapon to school

• Consistently makes violent threats when angry

• Has a substance abuse problem

• Is frequently truant or has been suspended from school on multiple occasions

• Seems preoccupied with weapons or violence, especially weapons associated more with killing humans than with target practice or hunting

• Has few or no close friends despite having lived in the area for some time

• Has a sudden decrease in academic performance or interest in school activities

• Is abusive to animals

• Has too little parental supervision, given the student’s age and level of maturity

• Has been a victim of abuse or been neglected by parents and/or guardians

• Has repeatedly witnessed domestic abuse or other forms of violence

• Has experienced trauma or loss in the home or the community

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By Valerie Strauss  | December 11, 2009; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  Bullying, Health, Parents  | Tags:  signs of potential violence  
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Oh, please! Teachers for years have been referring students exhibiting these signs to only be ignored. And then to whom would they be referred. Any human services programs in individual states if available is overwhelmed. We can't even handle the significant U.S. adult population that exhibit these signs other than throwing them in over crowded jails. We have the largest incarceration rate in the world so it looks like that program isn't any help either.

Posted by: flcat | December 13, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

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