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Published on April 19, 2013

School Safety and Your Teen

August 19, 2013

Bully Free ZoneRare incidents of school violence in the United States draw considerable media attention. However, government statistics indicate that schools are far safer places for children and teens than their homes or neighborhoods. Still, teasing, bullying, fights, threats, and gang-related violence may concern teens in our schools, sometimes for good reason. As a parent, you should be aware of the precautions schools are taking to keep students safe, as well as what you can do to help your teen cope with real or media-triggered anxieties.


Safeguards at Schools

The Surgeon General's Office ( has identified specific intervention programs that have proven effective in reducing violence involving youths. Implementing these programs helps schools deal with the most problematic situations:

  • bullying
  • drug use

Lessons on conflict resolution as well as competence and skill-building are appropriate and effective, so alerting school administrators to any threats of violence involving your child may help set into motion a process for addressing such issues at an early stage.

Some schools have taken extra precautions to keep students safe, including locker checks, limiting entry points, and increasing adult supervision in non-classroom areas. As a parent, you play a role in supporting such decisions by alerting school administrators to the social climate to which your teen and others are exposed.


Watch for Warning Signs

Knowing his or her friends is one of the best ways to lower the risk that your son or daughter might be touched by violence. Encourage healthy relationships with their peers (and demonstrate what that means in the way you interact with others in the family and your community). Speak with your teen's friends, and stay alert for any of the following behaviors that may indicate someone is capable of committing a violent act.

  • enjoying playing violent video games and/or watching violent movies
  • bragging about wanting to commit a violent act
  • threatening others
  • cruelty to animals
  • carrying a weapon of any kind

Young people who become violent may be imitating behavior they've witnessed in real life or through the media. Some were victims themselves. Keep in mind that psychologists believe violence to be a learned behavior that can be changed.



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