Handbook of Psychological Services for Children and Adolescents

By Jan N. Hughes; Annette M. La Greca et al. | Go to book overview

21
Systemic Interventions
for Safe Schools
JANE CLOSE CONOLEY
COLLEEN A. CONOLEY

Polls taken of adult Americans indicate that youth violence is a top concern (Elam & Rose, 1995). The public is accurate in identifying American society as one of the more violent among industrialized countries. The rate of homicide among young adult men, for example, is many times higher in the United States than anywhere else in the developed world (Fingerhut & Kleinman, 1990). Estimates from the Department of Justice suggest that almost two million people are victims of violence every year, including 400 children each month who die from gunshot wounds (United States Department of Justice, 1996).

Children are affected by violence in their homes. A million substantiated cases of child abuse were reported in 1993 (National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, 1994). The streets are not safe for many of the nation's young people, with youngsters reporting staying indoors because of daily gunfire, wearing bullet proof vests to venture out, or taking strategic paths to school to avoid violent or harassing encounters (Eron, Gentry, & Schlegel, 1994).

In such a context, schools and areas close to schools are not immune from danger. Three million crimes on or near campuses were reported in 1995 (United States Department of Justice, 1996), and students believe that many of their classmates bring weapons to school (Sheley, McGee, & Wright, 1992). Despite these alarming facts, only a small percentage of American children are actually touched by violence at school, but the educational implications for those children and the need to respond to and prevent the spread of violence have generated significant research effort.

As the institutions that serve almost all children and families, public schools are strategically positioned to mount prevention programs, link with other agencies

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