Practical Solutions to Juvenile School Violence

Author: James E. Buchanan, III
CEO/Information Architect 
School violence is an egregiously grim subject matter; that has managed to most recently steal the center stages of Mass-Media in the United States of America. Just this past decade, there has been a marked-up swing, in not only the frequency of school violence, but also in the severity of each subsequent attack. Parents, school officials, law enforcement professionals, members of the clergy, community activists, and law makers from local, state, and federal government positions across the nation would all resoundingly agree; that if this ever-swelling, cancerous lesion of school violence continues to fester unchecked, then the future of our modern-day public school system will evolve into nothing more than a playground for hardened criminals. The solution to this modern-day onslaught of school violence will never be a cut and dry task by any means. The local, state, and federal communities must all bind their monetary, social, and political forces together; before we will be able to begin the painstaking process of rectifying the horrendous matriculation of school violence.

Between the years of, 2001- 2007, there have been 180 documented cases of school related violent deaths reported in the United States. To add even more insult to injury, between those same years, there were over 930 reported incidents of non-lethal, high-profile cases that included stabbings, shootings, and school riots, (National Center for Education Statistics, Indicators of School and Crime Safety: 2007). In 2005, The Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that 19% of students, (grades 9 – 12), reported that they carried a weapon anywhere; whereas, approximately 6% or the very same cross-section of students reported carrying a weapon on school property, (Indicators of School Crime and Safety, Bureau of Justice Statistics: 2006). For the 2007 – 2008 school years alone, there have been a total of 16 duly documented cases of cases of school-related, violent deaths.


 

The breakdown by type is as follows: Shooting: 8/ Suicides: 4/ Murder Suicide: 0/Fight-Related: 2 Stabbing: 2/ Other: 0(National School Safety and Security Services, Inc. - Cleveland, OH, 2007)Furthermore, according to a survey that was conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, 1 in 4 students, (grades 9 – 12), reported that one of their peers had either offered, sold, or freely given them some type of illegal substance on school property; in the 12 months prior to this survey, (Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2006, National Center for Education Statistics, 2006). As the rates of on campus, school violence and mayhem continue to rise in the United States, we will continue to see our densely populated communities across the nation crumble into oblivion; because we have collectively failed to reach the most important facet of our nations’ future, the children.


 

The future of eradicating all aspects of school violence, by appearance, seems to be an inherently bleak mission at best. But, as our neighboring communities’ continue to partner with local clergy, state, and federal agencies, we will begin to peel back the mask of shame and indifference that separates the Baby Boomer Generation from Generation Next. One such program that has been in operation since 1989 is, SAVE, (Students Against Violence Everywhere). This particular Violence Prevention Program, (which was incepted on the heels of a fatal shooting during a party where, Alex Orange, a student from West Charlotte High School (NC), was killed trying to break up a fight), was formed by fellow student, Angelena Bynum, and Gary Weart, a teacher at West Charlotte High School (NC).


The SAVE program uses what they refer to as the, “Triad Approach”, in addressing violence; not only in schools, but in the surrounding communities as well. This very holistic approach is comprised of:(1) Conflict Management, (2) Crime Prevention, (3) Service to the Community. (SAVE Essentials Manual, SAVE: 2007)

In 1995, the SAVE program was awarded the most coveted, President’s Service Award, (the nations’ highest volunteer award), for outstanding service, commitment, dedication, and determination in keeping the message of non-violence active and helping to ensure that our communities remain safe. SAVE members, in partnership with surrounding communities, are heavily involved in: community volunteers work, violence free pledge drives, fund-raisers, and peer-to-peer speaking engagements. In addition, SAVE members are also actively involved in various services projects, such as: fight-free days, service to the elderly, violence prevention workshops, school and community beautification, child abuse awareness, adopting a family, and assisting Habitat for Humanity. Even though this most effective, anti-violence program had to come about through a tragic trail of events, the success of SAVE has brought national attention to the plight of ending school violence once and for all.

The cancerous scourge of school violence is indeed, an extremely daunting task. But through the close partnership of our local communities, state organizations, and federal government backing, our country will once again be well-respected; both here and abroad.

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