Students: Stop the Violence!

By Bryan Toporek — November 03, 2009 1 min read
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In response to the sickening news of gang rape occurring outside a Calif. high school’s homecoming dance, a USC professor is calling attention to role of student tips and reports in efforts to stop school violence.

Ron Avi Astor, Ph.D, a professor in USC’s Schools of Social Work and Education, writes an opinion piece on that says instead of asking questions such as “Why are our kids so messed up?” and “What’s happening in our schools?,” we should be asking, “What can we do to prevent such heinous acts from happening?”

Astor believes that students themselves hold the power to stopping school violence. He cites research showing that students typically know where and when violence on campus will occur, largely due to the prominence of online social networks, text messaging, and widespread cellphone use.

Since the tragedies of Columbine in 1999 and Virginia Tech in 2007, Astor believes students to have become more vigilant in noticing potential safety threats. Student reports halted a Columbine-style massacre at a high school in Green Bay, Wisc. a few years back; and in August, student tips and an alert teacher stopped a potential tragedy from occurring at Hillside High School in San Mateo, Calif.

“Unfortunately, the public is largely unaware of these frequently heroic acts by high school students and their teachers because they don’t often get national media attention,” Astor explains. “That lack of information has helped obscure the important roles that students and their responsive teachers play in preventing school violence.”

Ultimately, Astor believes school administrators and teachers must answer the call and teach students procedures about how to handle reporting incidents of violence in schools. If the schools provide the backbone, he thinks students will do the rest when it comes to preventing school violence.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.