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The Official Joy Berry Website > Blog > Uncategorized > Eradicating School Violence

Eradicating School Violence

by Joy Berry on June 18, 2023

Because of recent school shootings, many kids are afraid to go to school. This is why requests for good books for 10 year olds about school violence is at an all-time high.

In an effort to better address this subject, I listened to hours of testimony by the two psychiatrists who appeared in the trial of Nikolas Cruz, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter who killed 17 people and wounded 17 others. Here are some statistics that surfaced during my research:

“As of Dec. 20, there were 300 shooting incidents on school grounds so far in 2022, compared to 250 in 2021 and 114 in 2020, according to the publicly accessible K-12 School Shooting Database. A decade earlier, 2010 saw 15 school shootings.”

And, as if those statistics were not daunting enough, 2023 opened with a bang (no pun intended) when a six-year-old student brought a gun to school and shot his teacher.

The first question most people ask after a school shooting is, “Why?”

Research indicates that there are at least six common denominators among almost all of the school shooters. They include:

• Mental health problems (biochemical or otherwise)
• Overwhelming Personal Problems (at home and at school)
• Rejection, harassment and bullying by peers
• Desire to be a copycat shooter to attain notoriety
• Over exposure to violent media
• Relatively easy access to guns

The would’ve-could’ve-should’ve gamers often blame parents and school personnel for not being aware and not preventing a shooting. But putting the blame entirely on the adults who surround kids (like Cruz’s mother who allegedly caused Cruz’s Alcohol Fetal syndrome by drinking beer during her pregnancy) can detract from pursuing a more effective source for the solution to the problem.

Suggested remedies often include things like better locks, better security, and arming teachers. But these solutions often fail to stop a student from going ballistic on his fellow students and even himself. (I say “himself” because 98% of school shooters are male.)

I had the privilege of attending Grandparents’ Day at my granddaughter’s high school. During lunch, we shared a table with kids who were not part of my granddaughters group of friends. The school-mandated policy of sharing a lunch table with “people you don’t know” and discussing one assigned topic appeared to have merit. While the students honestly stated that they would prefer sitting with their friends, they also admitted that, were it not for the school mandate, they would miss out on opportunities to broaden their horizons by getting to know people outside their cloistered circles.

Unlike a few of the visitors who deemed the lunchroom policy to be too “Big Brother” for their liking, I applauded the school for at least trying to cross the Rubicon of tick-tock-the-game-is-locked cliques that more often than not make up a student body. Indeed, I saw the mandate as a great first step in warding off a school shooting. In fact, I’d like to take the policy one step further to include into the school curriculum a SEL (Social/Emotional Learning) class that would teach and motivate students to apply the following ways to address troubled students who are potential school shooters:

1. Avoid joining others who say and do things that can exacerbate a troubled student’s feeling of inferiority, rejection, and isolation.

2. Do you best to discourage others who, in any way, contribute to a troubled student’s painful perceptions and emotions.

3. Do whatever you can to reach out and help a troubled student who is exhibiting feelings of inferiority, rejection, and isolation.

4. If you are unable to help a troubled student, alert the surrounding adults as to your concerns about the student.

A possible resource for such a class could be A Winning Skills Book – How to Handle Rude People. This book can help make kids part of the solution rather than the problem. Use the code PROTECT for a FREE download until the end of 2023!

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