Stop the Violence

By Davis, Collie M. | Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, January 1, 2001 | Go to article overview

Stop the Violence


Davis, Collie M., Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences


On December 1, 1997, students and families across the nation watched the news in horror as they learned that a morning prayer meeting at a small Kentucky high school was interrupted by gunfire from one of the school's own students. Three students were killed and five others were critically injured, including local Future Homemakers of America President Missy Jenkins.

When the young members of FHA/ HERO's 1997-1998 National Executive Council learned of this tragedy, they immediately acted to create a program in FHA/ HERO's 8,590 chapters across the U.S. that would help students recognize warning signs and possibly help prevent violent actions by their peers. In 1999, National Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), formerly FHA/HERO, received $1.5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to pilot "STOP (Students Taking On Prevention) the Violence" in 11 states. The pilot states included Alabama, Arizona, California, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Utah. Each of the pilot states had a National Executive Council officer in 1997-1998, with the exception of Arkansas, which was included due to the recent school shooting. STOP the Violence is a peer-to-peer outreach initiative that empowers young people to recognize, report, and reduce the potential for youth violence. STOP the Violence uses the principle of peer education-teens teaching teens. Young people are often more willing to listen to and model their peers. Through peer education training, the program prepares FCCLA members to: Empower students with attitudes, skills, and resources to make their school safer.

* Reach their peers with antiviolence education.

* Recognize warning signs of potential youth violence.

* Promote the need for young people to report troubling behavior.

* Collaborate with school and community resources to address youth violence.

* Develop and implement local action projects aimed at reducing the potential for violence in their schools.

In 1999-2000, Alabama FCCLA members participated in the three statewide experiential two-day training events. Each chapter leadership team left the training with information, techniques, ideas, resources, and ready-to-use materials, including an 8-min video and 20-page Local Action Packet. After the training, STOP the Violence participants returned to their communities to prepare and implement customized local projects to reduce violence in schools. These local students have completed projects that are inspiring and diverse. A recent survey of family and consumer sciences (FACS) teachers indicated that over 24,000 students in Alabama schools were involved in some type of school-wide STOP the Violence project.

The following are examples of Alabama Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapter activities and projects from 1999-2000. Also included are FACS classroom learning experiences implemented as a result of students and advisers attending the STOP the Violence training sessions.

* FCCLA chapters joined together for a countywide meeting concentrating on nonviolence. Included were guest speakers who served on the Blue Ribbon Panel of Experts, team building activities, and role-playing skits. T-shirts were designed and sold to the participants. Three hundred students participated in the training. The chapter members then developed a citywide school program with skits and activities for grades K-12. FCCLA members performed these skits at their local schools.

* A STOP the Violence Lock-In was held at the local skating rink. FCCLA students arrived at 11:30 p.m. Games, speakers, skating, and food were provided until 6 a.m. A probation officer, the probate judge, a circuit judge, and the sheriff spoke on the panel of experts. Students presented STOP the Violence skits and were given STOP the Violence T-shirts. …

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