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N.E.A. Seeks To Combat 'Crisis' of School Violence

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The National Education Association last week announced a variety of efforts aimed at combating crime and violence in schools.

By distributing written and audiovisual materials nationwide and encouraging Congress to pass a violence-prevention bill, the teachers' union hopes "to curb the violence faced by young people everywhere--in and out of schools--and to make safe schools, and safe communities, a reality,'' Keith B. Geiger, the N.E.A. president, said in a statement on the initiative.

Charles Ericksen, an N.E.A. spokesman, said the union decided to launch the initiative now because youth violence has "just reached a crisis proportion.''

Reflecting the initiative's emphasis on a collaborative approach to the problem, Mr. Geiger said that state governments, labor organizations, and local communities have roles that are "equally important'' to those of the federal government and national groups.

Mr. Geiger singled out Virginia's anti-school-violence plan as an exemplary program. Its components include better school recordkeeping, stronger in-service training, and changes in state criminal law.

Federal Initiative

At the federal level, the union called on Congress to spend $500 million over five years to fight crime and violence in schools.

It also said it would urge the incoming Clinton Administration to toughen enforcement of a 1990 federal law prohibiting the possession or discharge of a gun in or near a school.

Other Components

Other aspects of the plan include:

  • A videotape produced by the union for use by schools in their training sessions and in-service programs on student discipline.
  • Devoting the Jan. 17 broadcast of Teacher Television, the in-service cable-television program that the union produces jointly with the Learning Channel, to an examination of effective violence-intervention programs. Two of the union's publications, N.E.A. Now and N.E.A. Today, will also focus on the issue.
  • Making available to school employees nationwide a chapter in the upcoming American Academy of Pediatrics school-health manual on the status and prevention of school violence. The chapter was co-authored by the N.E.A.'s health-information network.

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