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The Role of Parents

Parents/Guardians are an essential part of school violence prevention. Demonstrating an interest in their own children’s lives is one of the most important steps parents/guardians can take to help prevent youth violence. Open communication between children and parents is critical.

Topics to Discuss with Children

  • The school’s discipline policy. Parents/Guardians should know the policy, communicate their support for it, discuss the reasons behind it, and expect their children to comply.
  • Their school’s safety and security procedures.  Parents/Guardians should know the procedures, make certain their children know them, and communicate why they expect their children to follow them.
  • Their own positive household rules, family values and traditions, behavior expectations, and the reasons behind them.
  • Violence in television shows, video games, movies, and books.  Talk about impact of violence in the media and its real life consequences.
  • How to solve problems peacefully.
  • The value of individual differences.
  • Their children’s concerns about friends and other people who may be exhibiting threatening or violent behavior.  Parents/Guardians should share this information with the friend’s parents/guardians and/or other appropriate authorities in a way that protects the confidentiality of their children as needed and if possible.
  • Personal safety issues and appropriate responses to them.
  • Their children’s day-to-day activities, accomplishments, concerns, and problems.

Actions Parents/Guardians Can Take With Children

  • Model appropriate behaviors.  Demonstrate healthy ways to express anger and relieve stress.  Do not show anger in verbally or physically abusive ways.
  • Watch their children carefully for any troubling behaviors.  Parents/Guardians should learn the warning signs for at-risk children and how to get help from school or community professionals.
  • Take an active role in their children’s education.  Visit and volunteer at their school, monitor their schoolwork, and get to know their teachers.
  • If asked, participate in school safety planning sessions.
  • Initiate or participate in violence prevention groups in their community, such as Communities that Care, Mothers Against Violence in America, etc.
  • Get to know their children’s friends and families.  Establish a network to exchange information with other parents.
  • Monitor and supervise their children’s reading material, television, video games, and music for inappropriately violent content.
  • Monitor and supervise their children’s use of the Internet.  For more information, Ways Parents/Guardians Can Supervise Children’s Use of the Internet.
  • Talk to employers about having special considerations for parent/guardians who want to participate in school activities.
  • If needed, attend anger management, parenting skill, and/or conflict resolution classes offered by the school or other organizations.
  • Establish and consistently enforce household rules and reward positive behavior.
  • Provide quality childcare for their children.
  • Promote a healthy and safe lifestyle by prohibiting the illegal or irresponsible use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs in their home.
  • If needed, seek out support groups to improve parenting skills and/or to manage anger and frustration.
  • Provide a quality after-school environment for their children.
  • Monitor and supervise their children’s whereabouts (where they are, how they can be reached, and how to reach their children’s friends and parents).  Encourage and facilitate their association with friends who seem to reinforce good behavior.  Make their home a place where children and their well-behaved friends are welcome, comfortable, adequately supervised, and safe.

Firearms and Ammunition

  • Keep firearms and ammunition locked up and in separate locations.  Secure the keys in a location unknown to children.  Many children who bring firearms to school obtain them from their own households.
  • Monitor children’s environments for indications of weapons and destructive devices.
  • Teach children about the dangers of firearms.
  • Be aware of and concerned about the easily accessible firearms or ammunition at the homes of friends, relatives, and neighbors.