HELP FOR PARENTS WITH STRONG-WILLED, OUT-OF-CONTROL CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

Frustration, Aggression and Violence: Tips for Teens

About 16% of high school kids carried a weapon at least once during the 30 days before they were surveyed. Also, about 7% reported that they have been threatened or injured with a weapon. Many different factors cause aggressive behavior. The more these factors are present in your life, the more likely you are to commit an act of aggression.

What causes someone to punch, kick, stab or fire a gun at other people? There is never a simple answer to that question. But teens often commit aggression because of one or more of the following:
  • Aggression is a learned behavior. Like all learned behaviors, it can be changed. This isn't easy, though. Since there is no single cause of aggression, there is no one simple solution. The best you can do is learn to recognize the “red flags” (i.e., warning signs) of aggression and to get help when you see them in your peers or yourself.
  • Some teens use aggression to release emotions of rage or frustration. They think there are no answers to their problems and turn to aggression to express their out of control emotions.
  • Aggression is used as a way to control others or get something they want.
  • Aggression is used to retaliate against those who have hurt them or someone they care about.

Teens who act aggressively have trouble controlling their emotions. They may have been hurt by others. Some think that making others fear them through aggression (or threats of aggression) will solve their problems or earn them respect. This isn't true. Some aggression occurs as a response to prolonged hurt, trauma, bullying or victimization. Teens may use aggression to get something, while others may act out of self-protection or desperation. In any event, remember that teens who behave aggressively lose respect. They eventually find themselves isolated or disliked, and they still feel angry and frustrated.

Rage itself is not always a sign that aggression or an act of violence is imminent. What is most important to look at is if there are “new” signs and significant changes in behavior. The presence of some of the signs listed below should alert you to the possibility that a particular teenager may be at risk of aggression or violence. Some signs of potential for aggression may be historical factors like:
  • Being callous or lacking empathy for others
  • Early childhood abuse or neglect
  • Family or parent condones use of aggression
  • Having a major mental illness
  • Having been a victim of bullying
  • Having witnessed aggression at home
  • History of aggressive or aggressive behavior
  • History of cruelty to animals
  • History of discipline problems or frequent conflicts with authority
  • History of vandalism or property damage
  • Young age at first aggressive incident

Other signs of potential aggression may be present over time and may contribute to the risk of aggression given a certain event or activity. These might include:
  • Access to or fascination with weapons, especially guns
  • Feeling constantly disrespected
  • Gang membership or strong desire to be in a gang
  • Regularly feeling rejected or alone
  • Serious drug or alcohol use
  • Trouble controlling emotions like rage
  • Withdrawal from friends and usual activities

Some signs of potential aggression may be new or active signs, for example:
  • Acute episode of major mental illness
  • Announcing threats or plans for hurting others
  • Declining school performance
  • Frequent physical fighting
  • Increased loss of temper
  • Increased risk-taking behavior
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Obtaining or carrying a weapon
  • Planning how to commit acts of aggression

When you recognize signs of aggression in someone else, there are things you can do:
  • Don’t resort to aggression or use a weapon to protect yourself.
  • Don't spend time alone with teens who show signs of aggression.
  • If you are worried about being a victim of aggression, get someone in authority to protect you.
  • Tell someone you trust and respect about your concerns and ask for help (e.g., family member, guidance counselor, teacher, school psychologist, coach, clergy, school resource officer, peer, etc.).
  • The key to really preventing aggressive behavior is asking an experienced professional for help.
  • The most important thing to remember is to not go it alone and to take any signs or threats seriously.

It's normal to feel upset when you've been let down or betrayed. But rage and frustration don't justify aggressive action. Rage is a strong emotion that can be difficult to keep in check, but the right response is to always stay cool. Here are some ways to deal with rage without resorting to aggression:
  • Express criticism, disappointment, rage or displeasure without losing your temper or fighting. Ask yourself if your response is safe and reasonable.
  • If you're afraid to talk or if you can't find the right words to describe what you're going through, find a trusted friend or grown-up to help you one-on-one.
  • Listen to others and respond without getting upset when someone gives you negative feedback. Ask yourself if you can really see the other person's point of view.
  • Negotiate and work out your problems with someone else by looking at alternative solutions and compromises.
  • Take a time-out and calm yourself before you respond to the situation or person who is triggering your rage.

Rage and frustration is part of life, but you can free yourself from the cycle of aggression by learning to talk about your emotions. If you recognize any of these signs for aggressive behavior in yourself, talk with someone who can help (e.g., a friend or a grown-up you trust). You don't have to live with the guilt, sadness and frustration that comes from hurting others. Admitting you have a concern about hurting others is the first step. Talking to a trusted grown-up (e.g., school counselor or psychologist, teacher, family member, friend, clergy, etc.) is the second step. They can get you in touch with a professional who cares and can help.

Everyone feels rage in his or her own way. Start managing it by recognizing how rage feels to you. When you are very upset about something, you probably feel:
  • A "knot" or "butterflies" in your stomach
  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • Changes in your breathing
  • Flushed in the face
  • Goose bumps
  • Muscle tension
  • Trembling

You can reduce the rush of adrenaline that's responsible for your heart beating faster, your voice sounding louder and your fists clenching if you:
  • Imagine yourself at the beach, by a lake, or anywhere that makes you feel calm and peaceful.
  • Take a few slow, deep breaths and concentrate on your breathing.
  • Try other thoughts or actions that have helped you relax in the past.

Keep telling yourself:
  • "I'm not going to let him get to me."
  • "I don't need to prove myself."
  • "Calm down."

More tips to staying calm:
  • Consider the consequences.
  • Don't argue in front of other teens.
  • Learn to recognize what sets you off and how rage feels to you.
  • Learn to think through the benefits of controlling your rage and the consequences of losing control. 
  • Make your goal to defeat the problem, not the other person.
  • Only you have the power to control your own aggressive behavior – don't let rage control you.
  • Stay cool and think. 
  • Think before you act.
  • Try to find positive or neutral explanations for what that person did that provoked you.

Some teens who have trouble dealing with their emotions don't react by lashing out at others. Instead, they direct aggression toward themselves. The most devastating expression of this kind of aggression is suicide. Like teens who are aggressive toward others, potential suicide victims often behave in recognizable ways before they try to end their lives. Suicide, like other forms of aggression, is preventable. The two most important steps in prevention are recognizing red flags and getting help. Red flags of potential self-aggression may include:
  • Drop in quality of school performance or interest
  • Emotions of hopelessness, guilt or worthlessness
  • Feeling like a burden to others
  • Getting into trouble with authority figures
  • Giving away important possessions
  • Hinting at not being around in the future or saying good-bye
  • Impulsive, aggressive behavior
  • Lack of interest in usual activity
  • Major change in eating or sleeping habits
  • News reports of other suicides by teens in the same school or community
  • Perfectionism
  • Poor control over behavior
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Recent break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend or conflict with moms and dads
  • Recent death or suicide of a friend or family member
  • Significant alcohol or drug use
  • Sudden increase in moodiness, withdrawal or isolation
  • Threatening or communicating thoughts of suicide, death, dying or the afterlife

Oftentimes, suicidal thinking comes from a wish to end emotional pain. But keep in mind that pain often diminishes and emotions change. There are almost always options to something as final as suicide. Sometimes we just need some help to see them. If a peer mentions suicide, take it seriously. Listen carefully and then seek help immediately. Never keep their talk of suicide a secret, even if they ask you to. Remember, you risk losing that friend forever. When you recognize the red flags for suicidal behavior, do something about it. Tell a trusted grown-up what you have seen or heard. Get help from a professional as soon as possible. They can help work out the problems that seem so unsolvable but, in fact, are not.


My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

The Challenges of Step-Parenting

Aside from juggling households and visitation, the one thing that seems to cause a stepson or stepdaughter the most difficulty is the stepparent’s attempts to “act as” a biological parent. However, since step relationships (especially new ones) are usually complicated and fraught with conflict, it can be almost impossible for a stepparent to refrain from disciplining the stepson or stepdaughter. After all, most stepkids test the stepparent’s limits to the max, trying to see how far they can push until the stepparent breaks. The question is how to deal with it?

Here are some crucial tips for stepparents:

1. Your stepkids are dealing with their own feelings of loss, anger, confusion, and resentment about the divorce or remarriage. It may be easy to see their misbehavior as a direct attack on you, but remember that they need space and time to process the changes that have happened in their life. Even biological kids are known to lash out at their moms and dads with an "I hate you!" every now and then.

2. At first, the direct assigning of limits and consequences should probably be left up to the biological mother or father. So, avoid taking a direct role. Experts say it takes at least 2 years for children to begin to accept discipline from a stepparent. Two years is also about the time it takes to grow a strong, trusting  relationship.

3. Biological moms and dads must explain to their kids that the stepparent can also “remind” them of rules, whether or not he or she “enforces” the rules.

4. Bite your tongue. At times, this is going to be very difficult. Keep biting. Drag your spouse into the bedroom to whisper disciplinary suggestions—that's o.k. You have the right to voice your opinions, but let your spouse be the final decision-maker and the enforcer.

5. Remember that discipline is the entire process of raising a youngster. You can - and should - model good behavior, treat the stepchildren with respect, and encourage and reward them for things they are doing well. Leave the biological mother or father in charge of dealing with any major problems until you've gained their trust. Then you'll be able to assert yourself in a way they won't resent.

6. Stepparents should focus on encouraging desired behaviors, attitudes, and interactions rather than focusing on bad ones. Biological moms and dads generally have had all that time from infancy through the present to generate attachment and all those positive, loving feelings between themselves and their youngster. Stepparents are usually getting involved once the youngster is old enough to misbehave, but in most cases missed the opportunity to fall in love with the child.

7. Find time to spend one-to-one time with your stepson or stepdaughter to do shoulder-to-shoulder, low-key activities (e.g., a run around the lake, shooting hoops, watching a favorite show, shopping, etc.). Most stepchildren (especially teens), don’t want to be forced into a sit-down, face-to-face, "let's talk" conversation. Instead, you want to build the relationship through shared experiences that will naturally give you opportunities to learn about each other. Try to choose an activity that neither biological parent does with the youngster to limit any sense of competition. For example, if the stepson loves football, but his biological father likes basketball, and his mother isn't interested in sports at all – then this could be a great way for a new stepparent to connect with the child.

8. You are a legitimate participant in the family process. Although it may be best for you to play a backseat role in regard to discipline, this doesn't mean that you have to be a non-participant. The biological mother or father has the final say, but the stepparent still can have input. If your spouse is not supportive of your needs or is practicing permissive parenting, you can still decide what you will and won't do. When the stepchildren are being disrespectful to you, it's okay to let them know that you're happy to take them for driving practice, make them a tasty dessert, or make their favorite meal for dinner WHEN they can treat you respectfully. Being a stepparent does not mean being a doormat.

9. Take the time to talk with your partner about what's working and what's not. You and your partner are from two different family cultures, and you have very different positions in your family. Your job is not to agree with each other right away. It is to stay caring and open to each other despite your differences. Staying connected takes a lot of time and talking. Check in often, and comfort each other when things are difficult.

10. Expect your stepchildren to “act out.” They will test the waters and push the boundaries when there is someone new in the family. Kids are feeling their way through how much control they have, and they will try to play the mom and dad off each other. Don't take this as a sign that your stepkids will hate you forever or that you'll never be happy together as a family. Instead, keep having honest communication with your partner about parenting issues, and continue to find ways to have positive interactions with your stepkids to build a bond.

11. Once you've lived together for quite a while and are comfortable, then you can begin to make independent decisions about discipline without deferring to your spouse. It's appropriate to make spontaneous disciplinary choices when the biological parent is not available, or when there are no established consequences for the misbehavior; however, any decisions you make should be based on family values, rules, and limits.

12. Don't come into the stepfamily with a list of ways to "fix" things. If you do, your stepchildren may see you as trying to erase all evidence of their life before you entered it. Instead, give your partner and stepchildren time to settle in and get used to the new living arrangement. Then try to tackle one change at a time while remembering that all members will need to compromise. Research shows that it can take four to seven years for a stepfamily to function like a “normal” family, so give everyone time to adjust.

13. Never argue with your partner about the youngster’s behavior in front of him or her.  Always discuss it behind closed doors. 

14. You can't force your stepkids to like or love you, but you can require a standard level of respect. The biological mother or father should convey to the kids that “when you disrespect my spouse, you disrespect me.” The biological mother or father should clearly explain the difference between love and respect, and the expectation for how the youngster needs to treat the new stepparent (e.g., “You don't have to love your stepfather, but you need to be decent to him”).

15. As time goes by, and you begin to move into more of an authority role, you can begin to issue consequences when your stepchild violates established rules and regulations. You can also make use of reminders (e.g., "In this house, we all clean up on Saturdays," or "Michael, you know your mom insists you eat some vegetables before you eat dessert").

What To Do When YOUR Child Is The Bully

Bullies are made, not born. If left unchecked, bullying can lead to serious life-altering consequences. Bullies come in every shape and size. They are from every ethnic group, race, socioeconomic class, gender and religion. As a mother or father, you'll probably be shocked to learn that your youngster is intentionally causing pain and humiliation to other kids.

Kids who bully, and continue this behavior as grown-ups, have greater difficulty developing and maintaining positive relationships. Also, they are more likely to experience a decline in their peer-group status, which becomes more and more important in the youngster's social development as he enters adolescence.

Research shows that kids who resort to bullying often:
  • Come from families where the mom, dad, or siblings bully
  • Do not receive adequate parental attention or supervision 
  • Have a mom or dad that does not enforce discipline
  • Have low self-esteem
  • Lack empathy and compassion for others' feelings
  • May be expressing anger about events in their lives
  • May be the victims of bullying and are trying to retaliate
  • May be trying to impress their peers
  • Want to be in control

Given the short- and long-term consequences – not only for victims, but for the bullies as well – it is important to keep an eye out for signs that your youngster may be bullying others.  

A youngster who bullies may exhibit any of the following behaviors:
  • Defiant or hostile attitude (e.g., easily takes offense)
  • Frequent name-calling (describing others as ‘wimps’ or ‘jerks’)
  • Lack of empathy for others
  • Need to always get his own way
  • Regular bragging
  • Spending a lot of time with younger or less powerful children

Bullying is often a result of unhappiness, low self-esteem, and emotional insecurity. The first step is to talk with your youngster about what you have heard.  

Here are a few questions to ask your youngster that might help get the conversation started, and help you understand the situation so you can take appropriate action: 
  • Are you being bullied?
  • Do you get along with your peers at school?
  • How are things going at school?
  • How do you treat other kids?
  • What do you think about being considered a bully?

The good news is that there IS a lot that a mother or father can do to help their youngster stop bullying. By taking immediate action, you can help your youngster learn new ways of handling his feelings, peer-pressure, and conflict with peers.

What to do if YOUR child is the bully:

1. Acknowledge the problem. Communicate directly with your youngster. Let him know that you are aware of the bullying, that you take it seriously – and that it won’t be tolerated.

2. Be realistic. Your youngster’s behavior will not change in a week. When you are talking with your youngster, try to focus on how the “behavior” is unacceptable, not on your youngster as a person.

3. Control the amount of violent television shows and video games that your child engages in. The interactive quality of video games differs from passively viewing television or movies, because it allows players to become active participants in the game’s script. Players are rewarded for their violent acts by moving up levels, resulting in playing for longer time periods. There’s evidence that children become less sensitive to violence after observing it over and over. When kids play violent video games for an extended period of time, the following can occur: (a) decline in school achievements; (b) increases in aggressive behavior because violent acts are continually repeated throughout the video game; (c) more likely to have confrontation with their educators; (d) encourage fights with their peers; and (e) tendency to be more aggressive.

4. Discuss the topic of firearms. The easy access to firearms has led to numerous school shootings and accidental shootings. It would seem like a common sense move to keep them away from kids. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. Talk to your youngster about this topic. Owning a gun is o.k. However, they need to be locked and placed in a secure location. Having trigger locks is also a good idea.

5. Examine behavior and interactions in your own home. When you discipline your youngster, are you focusing on how the behavior is unacceptable rather than your youngster’s personality? Is there something at home that is encouraging this type of behavior (e.g., violent media, video games, television and movies)? Are there interactions that may lower your youngster’s self-esteem (e.g., constant teasing or taunting by a sibling)?

6. Explain to your youngster the harm caused by his behavior. Bullying causes physical, psychological and emotional harm to other kids.

7. Is there a lack of supervision at home? Maybe the youngster has too much time alone. Kids get into more trouble between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. because of having too much free time. Limit your youngster’s unsupervised time. Also, spend more time with your youngster and his friends by inviting them over while you’re home.

8. Listen to what others have to say about your youngster's behavior. Then, listen to your youngster's side of the story. Try to understand what is behind the behavior. Is your youngster being bullied? Are his friends bullies too? Start the conversation.

9. Make sure that your youngster's behavior is not due to a disability. Sometimes kids with limited social skills or behavioral issues bully others. It still needs to be addressed, but perhaps in conjunction with his Individualized Education Program.

10. Model respect, kindness and empathy. You are your youngster’s role model, and he may very well learn to treat others with respect by watching you.

11. Most of the time, bullies are also victims – and it could be coming from the home. Is there an abusive mother or father in the home? Does your youngster frequently get criticized at home? Does he get spanked or hit? Does anyone yell or use name-calling or put-downs? Are you, your spouse, or a sibling a bully at home? Many times, parents do not recognize the habits they have that may be contributing to bullying behavior.

12. Prevent bullying in the first place. Be proactive about bullying prevention. Find out your school's policies on bullying prevention and actions taken if a youngster is bullied. Join the Parent Association, and ask for training on signs and symptoms and how to start a prevention program with the school children.

13. Role-play how your child can handle future conflicts with his peers. Change characters and have your youngster play the part of the youngster that is being bullied. This will help him understand why his behavior should change.

14. Meet with school officials. Let them know there is a problem, and ask them how you can work together to solve this issue. Realize this may just be a wake-up call that should be stopped before it becomes a huge habit. Working together with the teachers will be more helpful than working against each other and passing the blame. They may have dealt with this topic numerous times in the past. So, schedule an appointment to talk with school staff – including the school counselor. School staff that work with your youngster every day may be able to help you figure out why he is bullying and provide you with some tools to solve the problem.

15. Seek professional help, if needed. Sometimes a situation calls for more than parental intervention. Bullying can be a sign of other serious antisocial or violent behavior, which can lead to future problems in school and with the law. One study found that males who were identified as bullies in middle school were 4 times as likely to have a criminal conviction by age 24.

16. Talk with the moms and dads of your youngster’s peers about bullying. Discuss your concerns and what you can do together to change the behavior of your youngster.

17. Talk with your youngster about who his friends are and what they do together. Peers can be very influential. If your youngster is hanging around with children who bully and encourage bullying behavior, you may want talk with him about getting involved in activities that will help him make new friends.

18. Reinforce kind, compassionate behavior. Teach empathy and provide opportunities for cooperation (e.g., have your youngster care for a pet, enroll him in meaningful activities that cultivate talents and interests while fostering cooperation and friendship).

Yes, your youngster could be a bully. You want to prepare him for the real world – not protect him from it. Bailing your youngster out from consequences now can lead to you needing to bail him out of jail in the future. He must be held accountable for his actions; otherwise, you as a parent will have much bigger fish to fry later.

Today’s Prevalence of School Shootings: Prevention and Intervention

Columbine Shooting Security Camera
School shootings are becoming an increasingly common aspect of life. We often hear in the news that there has been another shooting at a school, or a youngster has been arrested for taking a weapon to school. Our schools should be safe havens for teaching and learning – free of crime and violence. Violence on school grounds not only affects all the students and teachers involved, but also severely disrupts the educational process, the school itself, and the surrounding community.

School violence is a multi-faceted dilemma, making it difficult for researchers to pinpoint its causes. According to the U.S. Secret Service, there were 37 school shootings between 1974 and 2000. Although this averages less than one per year, statistics indicate that the prevalence of school shootings increases dramatically each decade. Disturbingly, there were 10 school shootings in 2012 – and there were 8 more during January 2013. Unfortunately, the past decade has seen an unprecedented increase in these incidents, which truly highlights the fact that something needs to change. As one parent stated, “What the HELL is happening to kids today! I strongly believe that many parents are tacitly teaching them that violence is just a way of life by allowing them to spend endless hours playing violent video games!”

Too much exposure to violence through media does indeed desensitize kids and teens to violence. As a result, today’s younger generation may be learning to accept violent behavior as a normal way to solve problems.

School Violence: Some Alarming Statistics—
  • 6% of elementary school educators have reported being physically attacked by their students.
  • 8% of children in grades 9–12 have reported being threatened or injured with a weapon (e.g., gun, knife, or club) on school property. 
  • 8% of secondary school educators have reported being threatened with violence by a child in their classroom.
  • Firearms used in school-associated homicides come primarily from the perpetrator's home. 
  • Homicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 5-18. Data indicates that about 2% of these deaths happen on school grounds or on the way to or from school. 
  • About 10 % of male children in grades 9–12 have reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property, compared to 5 % of female children. 
  • Just during the school year of 2008–09 alone, there were 1,579 homicides among school-age kids ages 5–18, of which 17 occurred at school. 
  • Most school-associated violent deaths occur during transition times, immediately before and after the school day and during lunch.
  • Nearly 50 % of homicide perpetrators gave some type of warning signal (e.g., making a threat or leaving a note) prior to the event.
  • Violent deaths are more likely to occur at the start of each semester.

Let me ask a question to all you parents out there: How many homicides were committed in your school while you were growing up? None? That’s what I thought! 

Here is a list of school shootings just for the year of 2013 alone:

January 7, 2013— Shots were fired at Apostolic Revival Center Christian School, leaving 27-year-old Kristopher Smith dead in what was believed to be a retaliation killing, possibly for talking with police about a previous incident.

January 10, 2013— A gunman entered a science classroom of Taft Union High School with a 12 gauge shotgun and opened fire. A 16-year-old male student, identified as Bowe Cleveland, was shot in the chest and critically wounded. Another student was shot at, but was not hit. The classroom teacher, Ryan Heber, convinced him to drop his weapon, and the gunman followed his order and was later arrested. Additionally, Heber suffered a minor wound from being grazed by a shotgun pellet during the ordeal. The gunman is suspected to be a 16-year-old student of the school, Bryan Oliver. Cleveland and the other student that was shot at are both believed to be intended targets of the gunman. On January 14, Oliver was charged with two counts of attempted murder and assault with a firearm.

January 15, 2013— A gunman shot an administrator in his office on the fourth floor of Stevens Institute of Business and Arts, wounding him. The suspected gunman, Sean Johnson, a part-time student, shot and wounded himself on a stairwell. Both the administrator and Johnson were hospitalized in stable conditions. Johnson was charged with three felony charges, including assault.

January 15, 2013— Two people were shot and killed and a third person was wounded at the parking lot of Hazard Community and Technical College. The third victim, 12-year-old Taylor Cornett, died from her wounds the next day. 21-year-old Dalton Lee Stidham was arrested and charged with three counts of murder.

January 16, 2013— A 17-year-old boy, Tyrone Lawson, was shot to death in a parking lot of Chicago State University. The shooting happened after high school basketball games were being held on the university campus, and Lawson was a spectator at the event. Police arrested two people after the shooting and recovered a weapon.

January 22, 2013— Between the Library and Academic Building outside of Lone Star College North Harris, two men got into an argument and one of the men pulled out a gun and shot the other man, a student, injuring him. A maintenance man suffered a gunshot wound to the leg. The gunman accidentally shot himself in the leg. After the shooting, the gunman fled into the woods and was arrested hours later. The charges against the initial suspect were dropped and another man was arrested.

January 31, 2013— A 14-year-old male student was shot and wounded in the back of the neck at Price Middle School. The gunman, a student, was believed to be arguing with the other student before taking out a handgun and firing multiple shots at him. In addition, a teacher was injured during the shooting. Afterward, the gunman was disarmed by a school resource officer and subsequently apprehended. He was charged with aggravated assault.

March 18, 2013— At the University of Central Florida, 30-year-old student James Oliver Seevakumaran pulled a fire alarm went off at the Tower 1 dormitory. According to plans he had written, Seevakumaran intended to attract a large amount of people inside the building to gather and shoot them. He then pointed a handgun at his roommate and threatened to shoot him inside their dormitory room. Seevakumaran released his roommate who ran into a bathroom to call 911. Seevakumaran then fatally shot himself in the head. Authorities found an assault weapon, a couple hundred rounds of ammunition and four homemade bombs inside his backpack.

April 12, 2013— Two women were wounded during a shooting at the campus of New River Community College. Neil Allen MacInnis was taken into custody.

April 16, 2013— Three students were shot and injured on the campus of Grambling State University.

April 18, 2013— At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, near Building 32 (Stata Center) at 10:48 p.m. EDT, a campus police officer was shot multiple times. The officer, 26-year-old Sean Collier, was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital in nearby downtown Boston, where he was pronounced dead. The shooting was believed to be perpetrated by the suspects of the Boston Marathon bombings that took place in Boston three days prior to this shooting. The two suspects are brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. About three hours after the MIT shooting, Tamerlan died in a gunfight with police in Watertown, Massachusetts. In that gunfight, another officer was shot and seriously wounded. Dzhokhar was arrested 18 hours afterward in Watertown, and was hospitalized in critical condition from a gunshot wound to the neck.

June 7, 2013— 2013 Santa Monica shooting: Six people, including the shooter died and four others were wounded at or near the campus of Santa Monica College when a lone gunman opened fire on the school campus library after shooting at several cars and a city bus at separate crime scenes. The gunman, John Zawahri, was fatally wounded by responding police officers. Among the dead were the shooter's father and brother, both of whom died inside a house that was set on fire a mile or so from the Santa Monica College campus.

August 20, 2013— A man with an AK-47 fired six shots inside the front office of Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, an elementary school. After the gunman fired the shots, he barricaded himself in the office and police at the scene returned fire. Nobody was injured. Children had to leave the building and were being guided to a corner of a field, where they were picked up by their parents. The alleged gunman is a 20-year-old male named Michael Brandon Hill. In the front office of the school, Hill talked with Antoinette Tuff, a woman who worked in the front office, who had called 9-1-1. Tuff talked him down, and helped him surrender to the police before anyone was hurt. Hill was apprehended.

August 23, 2013— A student, Roderick Bobo, 15, was shot during a football game at North Panola High School in what was termed as a gang-related shooting. Two others were injured in the shooting, and three men were charged as being responsible for the crime.

August 30, 2013— A 15-year-old male student was shot in the neck and shoulder at Carver High School, at 2:30 PM. The victim was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. An 18-year-old male student was apprehended by a school resource officer without incident. The suspected gunman is charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, carrying a concealed gun, possessing and discharging a firearm, and carrying a firearm onto educational property. The shooting was believed to be the result of an on-going dispute between the suspect and the victim.

October 4, 2013— A 16-year-old student was shot in the hip at Agape Christian Academy after a fight broke out at 2 pm. An innocent bystander was hit in his ankle by a stray bullet or shrapnel. The two victims were treated for non-life-threatening injuries. The suspected shooter reportedly fled in a car with several other males. He was not caught.

October 21, 2013— 12-year-old seventh-grade student Jose Reyes opened fire with a semi-automatic handgun at the basketball courts of Sparks Middle School, injuring one student in the shoulder. A teacher, Michael Landsberry, who was trying to intervene with the gunman was then shot and killed by Reyes, as he was standing on a playground. Reyes shot and wounded student who tried to come to Landsberry's assistance after he fell onto the ground. That student suffered an injury to his abdomen. Reyes then committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. The shooting happened before classes, and the school was evacuated and was closed for the week.

November 2, 2013— A 21-year-old student was shot and wounded at North Carolina A&T State University. The victim was hospitalized for serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The university was temporarily locked down that night, and the lockdown was lifted about half an hour later. No suspects are in custody.

November 3, 2013— A Stephenson High School student and a janitor were shot in an apparent confrontation between team members and a group of teens who were not attending the school. Both were innocent bystanders in the ordeal.

November 13, 2013— After classes ended, at least one gunman came out of the woods and opened fire on three students as they were walking to their cars at Brashear High School. One student was grazed in the head, another was struck in the neck and shoulder, and a third was hit in the leg and foot. Six people were taken into custody. The shooting is believed to be drug-related.

December 4, 2013— A 15-year-old student was shot and wounded by a 17-year-old student near a soccer field on the campus of West Orange High School. The shooting occurred after a fight broke out between the two students. The 17-year-old suspected shooter was taken into custody several miles away from the school, and is charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, possession of a firearm by a minor and possession of a firearm on school grounds.

December 13, 2013— 18-year-old Karl Pierson shot 17-year-old student Claire Davis in the head, fatally injuring her, in a hallway in Arapahoe High School. Pierson then committed suicide by shooting himself. Pierson was armed with a shotgun, three Molotov cocktails, and a machete. He was looking for a faculty member who had disciplined him, and intended to shoot him. Claire Davis died from her injuries on December 21, 2013.

December 19, 2013— Four teens went into Edison High School in what was believed as a gang-initiation process. After accosting a 62-year-old woman about a mile away from school grounds, they found an athletic trainer who taught at Edison High and shot him several times in the leg and stomach. It took a few days for the youths to get caught, and this was cinched when the 62-year-old woman and some surveillance video gave police the information they needed.

Strategies for Eliminating School Violence—

Reducing school violence can only be accomplished by a holistic approach using the children themselves, the community, media, educators – and moms and dads. Regardless of what role you play within the community, whether or not you are directly involved with a school, there are practical things you can do to help reduce and eliminate school violence. 

Let’s look at some crucial steps to accomplish this very important goal:

1. Allocate increasingly focused interventions and “staff attention” on children with more chronic behavioral problems. Principals commonly observe that a relatively small number of children in their schools account for a disproportionately large number of disciplinary office referrals. Staff should keep track of child behavioral performance and provide increasingly structured, intensive interventions for children whose classroom conduct has not improved with less intensive consequences.

2. As educators play an important role in a child’s life, he or she should provide attention to each and every child. If the teacher should notice anything irregular, he or she should provide extra attention towards that child and inform the mom or dad about the changes and suggest ways in dealing with it.

3. Be open to ongoing conversations. Make yourself available and let children know that they can talk to you about their concerns and fears about school violence. Keeping these lines of communication open is essential to violence prevention.

4. Create a common school-wide definition of ‘violence’. Before a school or district can effectively mobilize to combat school violence, stakeholders must agree on a shared definition of ‘violence.’ A definition of violence is most useful if it is sufficiently broad enough to cover verbal and physical acts that, intentionally or unintentionally, cause harm, hurt, or embarrassment to another.

5. Don't allow prejudice or stereotypes in the classroom. Set this policy on the first day. Come down hard on children who say prejudicial comments or use stereotypes when talking about people or groups. Make it clear that they are to leave all of that outside the classroom.

6. Foster relationships with law enforcement, outside clinicians, and community agencies. Not all misbehavior can be addressed solely within the confines of a school. Relationships with law enforcement is critical (e.g., making it easier for a teacher to communicate with a probation officer for children in the PINS program or on probation). For children with psychiatric disorders or other medical issues that can influence behavior, schools should work to maintain close contacts with doctors and other clinicians in the community. Also, schools need to know the full range of counseling and other therapeutic services offered by community agencies and organizations, which make valuable recommendations about what services would best address the needs of a particular youngster.

7. If school violence is being discussed in the news, this is a great time to bring it up in class. You can mention the warning signs and talk to children about what they should do if they know someone has a weapon or is planning a violent act.

8. If you hear a student (or a group of students) cursing, teasing or bullying another child, say or do something. Do not turn a blind eye, or you are tacitly approving of that behavior.

9. Implement anti-violence organizations. If your school has such a program, join in and help. Become the club sponsor or help facilitate programs and fundraisers. If your school does not, investigate and help create one. Getting children involved can be a huge factor in helping prevent violence. Examples of different programs include peer-education, mediation, and mentoring.

10. Know the danger signs. There are many warning signs that show up before actual acts of school violence occur. Some of these include: depression and mood swings, lack of anger-management skills, obsessions with violent games, sudden lack of interest, talking about death, bringing weapons to school, violence towards animals, writing that shows despair and isolation, etc. A study of the students who have committed acts of school violence were found to have depression and suicidal tendencies, both of which often result from being teased and bullied by peers. The combination of these two symptoms can have terrible consequences.

11. Know your community. Where are the popular hangouts for teens? Are there any new kids hanging out in the community that may be involved with drugs or gangs? Are there groups of children that bully others? Is there graffiti in your neighborhood? Do you or the police know what is written? Is it tagging, gang related or malicious?

12. Offer jobs and training to young people. If you own a business or know of work or volunteer opportunities, talk to local schools about opportunities that bring children and teens into contact with productive role models and out of contact with violent associates. Such contacts give young people a strong self-esteem. Hire local kids for odd jobs (e.g., lawn care, car washing, babysitting, etc.). Many states allow 15- or 16-year-olds to work (if they have parental permission).

13. Provide assistance at an early stage to children with academic problems. There is a strong relationship between academic failure and misbehavior. Unsuccessful kids often find schools to be unwelcoming places. Children who struggle academically and fail to build an emotional attachment to the academic process are at significantly greater risk than typical peers for gang membership and other delinquent behaviors.

14. Provide swift, consistent consequences for misbehavior. Schools should recognize positive behaviors by granting privileges, specific praise, and opportunities to be recognized for hard work and civility. Negative behaviors should also result in prompt, consistent consequences that take into account both the severity of the infraction and the number of times the child has had behavioral problems in the past. Consequences for negative behaviors are not intended to be punitive, but to provide the youngster with support and to teach that misbehavior comes at a cost.

15. Update yourself on current culture. What sites, games and trends are becoming popular with today’s children? If you are a parent, teacher, administrator, or are involved in schools in any way, know what is popular with kids nowadays. What does their slang mean? Terms children use in texts and emails may be code for behavior they want to hide from grown-ups.

16. Use teachable moments to help teach conflict resolution. If you have children disagreeing in your classroom, talk about ways that they can resolve their problems without resorting to violence. Furthermore, teach ways to manage anger.

17. Volunteer your resources. If you are a social worker, clergyman, law enforcement official or psychologist, you can help your community and local schools by offering your services. Offer classes to educators, moms and dads, and administrators on any information you can provide. Can you help children identify depression and anger in peers? Can you teach a creative writing or poetry class as a way of helping children relieving anger and stress? Can you coach after-school sports? Often children gain a great deal just by seeing an adult that cares.

18. Whenever there is "downtime" in your classroom, and children are just conversing among themselves, make it a point to listen in. Children do not have - and should not expect - a right to privacy in your classroom. As one example, some children knew at least something about what the two teens were planning at Columbine. If you hear something that puts up a red flag, jot it down and bring it to your administrator's attention.

19. When you see a child who seems to be “holding something in” (e.g., always has an angry face, doesn’t talk to others, seems to be in a world on his own, chronically looks discouraged and disgruntled, seems very disconnected from peers, etc.), then you may have a depressed child who is struggling to fit in, or a child who is silently enduring taunts from peers. This could be a deadly scenario if not addressed. Talk to this child to see what’s going on. Talk to the child’s parents to see what’s going on in the home. And, refer the child to the school counselor.

20. While most educators feel that what happens in their classroom is their responsibility, few take the time to involve themselves in what goes on outside of their classroom. In between classes, you should be at your door monitoring the halls. Keep your eyes and ears open. This is a time for you to learn a lot about ALL the students in the school.

Violent deaths at schools are tragic events with far-reaching effects on students, teachers, and the surrounding community. Establishing good indicators of the current state of school crime and safety across the nation, and regularly updating and monitoring these indicators, is important in ensuring the safety of our children. Clearly, schools nationwide need to take a closer look at their security and take measures to help prevent these potentially deadly incidents from occurring.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

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One day you wake up and find that life has changed forever. Instead of greeting you with a hug, your little boy rolls his eyes when you say "good morning" and shouts, "You're ruining my life!" You may think you've stepped into the Twilight Zone, but you've actually been thrust into your son's teen years.

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Outbursts, rages, and strife become a way of life (an emotionally unhealthy way of life). We set aside our own needs and focus on the needs of our children. But what does it cost us?

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The standard disciplinary techniques that are recommended for “typical” teenagers do not take into account the many issues facing teens with serious behavioral problems. Disrespect, anger, violent rages, self-injury, running away from home, school failure, hanging-out with the wrong crowd, drug abuse, theft, and legal problems are just some of the behaviors that parents of defiant teens will have to learn to control.

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