Guide to Protecting Your Child from Violent Kids: Part II
The day after the Littleton, Colorado School Massacre I was driving my 13-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter to school. My daughter was overly quiet and I noticed a worried look on her face. "What's up?" I asked. Coming out of a deep train of thought she said, "How do I know I'm safe at my school? I didn't have the right answer for her. I was able to tell her, as a mom, that I thought she was safe but I knew my words did not ring true. Because of the need to protect my own children and because of my background in child safety, I hope the answers I have found will help you protect your own children.
It's not what they look like, it's their behavior that matters.
If you ask your children who the bullies are at school, they can rattle off their names with no problem. The National School Safety Center now calls bullying "the most enduring and underrated problem in American schools." Bullying also leaves its mark on 1 in 4 children. It's no laughing matter. Twenty years ago it might have meant ending up with a bloody nose. Today it may be a trip to the emergency room or worse. The role bullies have played in triggering a new type of violent child, Classroom Avengers, will have to be addressed.
Recognizing violent kids may save your child's life, but how do you recognize one? Not all of the kids who fit this profile will go into a school and shoot multiple victims but statistically they will commit acts of violence in their life. In helping parents and children recognize adults who are predators, the first lesson I teach is that it's not what someone looks like that matters -- it's their behavior that matters. It's the same thing with kids who hurt kids -- it's not what they look like, it's their behavior that matters. With the knowledge in these articles, you will learn how to recognize these potentially violent boys. This knowledge will not only help you help them but, most importantly, help you protect your own child.
- "Luke Woodham of Pearl, Miss., was a short, fat boy who was beaten and ridiculed by his peers. Mitchell Johnson of Jonesboro, Ark., was a pudgy outcast. And Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of Littleton were disturbed loners whom classmates taunted as often as Harris and Klebold taunted them. All four teens took revenge by killing their schoolmates. Bullied, they became bullies themselves. - U.S. News Cover Story 5/3/99. Anna Mulrine
Bullies are obvious, but the Classroom Avengers are more difficult to recognize because they don't exhibit overt "bullying" behavior. However, if you know what to look for, they give countless signs to alert those around them to the impending tragedy. What is his behavior? He may spend countless hours on the Internet, or be an expert at video games. He's usually a good student, his behavior is normal, adults like him, his dress is in keeping with teens of his own age. He has little or no previous history of delinquent behavior and he is not known to have a psychiatric problem.
Over all he's an OK kid but most kids think he's a bit of a nerd. He may be the quiet kid seated next to your daughter in class. If your daughter is the gentle nurturing type she has probably told him that the other kids pick on him too much. Her consoling him may actually cause him to fantasize that she is his girlfriend and a small slight on her part may risk her life.
Your son may sit in the desk on the other side of him. Being outgoing and one of the most popular kids at school, he may find no harm in teasing this nerdish kid. It's not meant to hurt, but those small jabs over the last year may build to trigger a Classroom Avenger to "defend his honor."
Read our review of the book, Raising Safe Kids in an Unsafe World.
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