In Focus: Forestalling Violence; September 1998; Scientific American Magazine; by Nemecek; 2 Page(s)
Heading back to school brings to mind shiny new notebooks, multicolored pens, the latest clothes and some free time for parents. This fall, however, parents, teachers and students have an additional concern: school shootings. Although only 1 percent of all homicides-- and suicides--of school-age children in the U.S. occur on school grounds, this statistic represents a dramatic increase. According to a survey by the National School Safety Center (NSSC), the number of violent deaths in schools rose 60 percent last year to a total of 41, nearly half of which were multiple shootings. Experts worry that an epidemic of school violence is under way. As Ronald D.Stephens, executive director of the NSSC, describes it, there have been attempted cases of "copycat killings," particularly after the shootings in March at a Jonesboro, Ark., middle school that killed four students and a teacher.
Anxious to stop this trend, teachers and administrators around the country have embraced a variety of preventive techniques--everything from metal detectors to daily classes in controlling anger. But in many instances, these programs have not been graded for efficacy. Even more troubling is the fact that, according to recent studies, certain popular methods simply do not work.