Friday, October 5, 2007

Child Violence Away Fom Schools

In 2004-05, school year, an estimated 54.9 million students were enrolled in our nation’s pre-kindergarten through 12 grade. According to U.S. Department of Education report filed on November 20. 2005, School Safety Report Released, School violence rate is at lowest level since 1992, and the rate of violent crime victims in schools declined from 48 per thousand students in 1992 to 28 per thousand in 2003. This is good news for our district schools with the implementation of a resource officer program, video cameras on campuses, and support by the local law enforcement. Our kids are safer in school.

The same report advises that students are twice as likely to be victims of serious violence away from school. Students in urban schools were twice as likely as students in rural and suburban schools to fear being attacked at school or on the way to and from school. Public awareness and proactive involvement in school districts around the country created policies to lower school violence and crime on school property. Youth violence and crime in the neighborhoods seem to overshadow the good news on school campuses.

Protecting our youth is paramount in our duty as professionals. Children have the right to be safe in their homes, neighborhoods, and schools. What can we do as professionals to break the cycle of violence and crime amongst the youth of our society? Many communities are afforded after-school programs and offer incentives to inner-city clubs to promote sport and after-school programs.

The dichotomy of gangs and the nation’s youth create an underground culture. As we watch our neighborhoods quietly deteriorate and cities implode within, the urban sprawl has fallen victim to these hoodlums who prey on our youth with false promises of quick money and kinship. Deviance is no stranger to any society or time, societal reaction to this deviance is measured in crime statistics and prison bed spaces.

The issue at hand is not gangs or youthful indiscretions, but an often over-looked issue of safety for our children. How do we address our societal acceptance of violence and crime in our neighborhoods? Every child deserves safe passage to and from school. Shifting our attention to the streets will make this generation safer. The possibilities seem at the time far-reaching on school campuses, and here we are today with a drastic cut in school violence. Putting our resources together, education, and crime awareness may be the grass roots effort our children need to be safer walking in their neighborhoods and not fearing being a victim of violence.


SERAPH said...

Truancy: The root of all school safety problems!

“No child falls through the cracks. They are dropped through or shoved through by lazy, emotionally immature adults and unethical professionals”

After the Columbine shootings I made this statement during an interview on national television. The reporter asked if I really believed that statement and I replied, “absolutely!”

But you may ask what this statement has to do with the issue of truancy? Simple, truant children – who are routinely late or absent – come from dysfunctional homes. Those homes in my experience are lead by caregivers who are more concerned about there own pleasures and convenience than the welfare of their children. Some may say that this is an unkind assessment. My response to them is simple, visit these homes and you will see that this is not an aberration.

While some caregivers have a difficult time because of poverty, work schedules or transitioning to a single parent household; the majority simply refuse to exercise self control or basic order in their homes.

And this assessment is supported by various national studies. Research from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the U.S. Department of Education have found that child neglect and family disorganization are major factors in truancy. The OJJDP also found that “Truancy has been clearly identified as one of the early warning signs of students headed for potential delinquent activity, social isolation, or educational failure via suspension, expulsion, or dropping out.”

More disturbing is a document that I have used for many years in criminal profiling, the Juvenile Sex Offender Assessment Protocol (J-SOAP-II). In this well respected assessment tool, caregiver issues and truancy become connected as impetuses for teen sex offender development:

Inconstant and instable caregivers before the age of 10. Multiple changes in caregivers and living situations.
Chronic truancy, fighting with peers or teachers.
Dr Gerald Patterson sums up the issue this way, “Parenting plays a critical role in the development process of children. Early discipline failures are a primary casual factor in the development of conduct problems. Harsh discipline, low supervision, lack of parental involvement all add to the development of aggressive children”

Bullying, sexual harassment, negative behavior cliques and aggression towards staff are all done by children who come from dysfunctional homes. But beyond the home environment, schools have a big stake in controlling truancy. Not only is it a major part of NCLB compliance but it affects all school safety issues. The US DOE has tracked the following school issues that directly contribute to truancy.

· Lack of effective and consistently applied attendance policies.

· Poor record-keeping, making truancy difficult to spot.

· Teacher characteristics, such as lack of respect for students and neglect of diverse student needs.

· Unsafe environment, for example a school with ineffective discipline policies where bullying is tolerated. [5 percent of students in grades 9 through 12 skipped school because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to or from school.]

Truancy happens in rural, suburban and urban schools and all classes of families. School must take control of their truancy problems or they are bound to be overtaken by it.

A well managed school is a safe school!

TCPCD said...

Thank you Seraph for your well thought out comments and experience in the field. Your professionalism is reflected in your words.

Truancy issues have been a great concern for juvenile probation and resource officers and undermine the learning progress or process of students making them less marketable in the workforce when they become of working age. Two main issus here are truancy of delinquent children and the child who becomes a victim of those who prey on the innocent. Public awareness and education of real life skills and sure sanctions may prevent this chronic problem. Good comments Seraph.