Preventing Gun Violence in Schools Right Now: How we can teach our kids to ensure their safety while the long process of change take place
It is hard to stay objective on such an emotional topic such as gun violence in schools, but if we have learned anything since the Columbine shooting almost 20 years ago it is that changes are slow and we don't have time to waste. Our children are asking for help and we have idly sat by depending on our elected officials to make common sense changes for the safety and well being of our children. They are learning that there will always be obstacles in this country and change will come, but it may take a generation or two. In the meantime, here are ways they can ensure their own safety until then:
It has become harder to stay focused on the present and world around us with incresed academic demands, more technology at our fingertips, being over scheduled, fast-paced environments, etc. In football, coaches tell their defensive backs to keep their head on a swivel. That means you keep your eyes up and around, not locked on one thing or down. It is sad that we need to depend on children to watch for warning signs, but that is where we are today and if it means they have one more added item on their list of things to do but increases their odds of staying alive, then it is worth the added responsibility. Encourage children to educate themselves on warning signs by talking to their school counselors, psychologists and social workers.
The older generations are not setting the best example of how to truly listen but hopefully we can encourage our children to not follow in our footsteps. Active listening is defined as "fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively hearing the message of the speaker". means, as its name suggests, actively listening. That is fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively‘hearing’ the message of the speaker. If you hear someone showing warning signs of violence or aggression toward themselves or others, tell an adult who knows what to do such as a teacher, counselor, administrator, police officer, etc.
This is the old "if you see something, say something" saying which doesn't always work; however, it does work most of the time and increases the odds that school violence will be prevented. Also, children need to talk to each other. They should be encouraged to put their phones, iPads and laptops away for a couple of hours a day in order to talk to each other. It is easier to pick up on any red flags when you are looking at and listening to a person talk to you than read their post on social media.
Form Your Own Committees
Until changes are made across all schools, you should create your own task forces or committees to make your own schools safer. Changes might be preventative (i.e., peer counseling, weekly meetings focusing on the emotional climate of the school, creating more chances for students to connect with one another), environmental (i.e., specific plans for each classroom, atypical school day, etc. if there is an active shooter) or macro (i.e., students can meet with representatives to communicate their wants and needs, register more students to vote, meet with your school board to brainstorm changes that can immediately go into effect).