School Violence Prevention

Get school violence prevention tips here. School violence is a serious concern for many young people and their parents. Learn what parents, teachers, students, and community members can do to help prevent school violence.

School violence touches the lives of many students. According to the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, 6% of all students, and 10% of males, have carried a weapon to school. 13% of students have been in fights at school. 9% of students have been threatened with a weapon. 14% of middle school students are the victims of bullying. Teen homicides and teen suicides at school are relatively rare, but when they do occur they are devastating for the whole community.

While school violence may never be totally eliminated, there are ways to prevent many types of school violence.

School Violence Prevention: Bullying

Bullying can involve both physical and verbal violence, and may take place in person or through communication devices like cell phones (cyberbullying). Schools can help reduce bullying by being aware of bullying and making it clear that bullying is not acceptable by:

  • Educating students on what bullying is and why it’s wrong
  • Banning cell phone use during school hours to prevent text bullying at school
  • Providing adult supervision of students between classes
  • Initiating school-wide anti-bullying pledges
  • Consistently enforcing rules against bullying

Parents should also talk to their children and teens to make it clear that bullying is not acceptable and find out if they have been the victims of bullying all of these things can go a long way in school violence prevention.

School violence prevention by preventing gang involvement and fighting

Gangs are a problem everywhere, and they increase the risk of drug use and fighting at school. Schools can help combat gang violence problems with measures like:

  • Helping teachers develop classroom management skills, especially for dealing with disruptive and diverse students
  • Encouraging tolerance of diversity among students
  • Teaching students life skills and encouraging positive goal setting
  • Enacting dress codes to discourage gang apparel
  • Creating in students a sense of ownership at school
  • Offering alternatives to gang membership, like interesting extracurricular activities
  • Getting counseling for troubled students
  • Working with law enforcement to hold gang members responsible for their actions, such as by cleaning up graffiti
  • Initiating after school programs to keep young people busy during the after school hours, which is when they are most likely to get into trouble

Parents play an even more important role in preventing gang involvement by being involved in their teens’ lives. They should take an interest in their teens’ activities and friends, and encourage them to be involved in positive activities and to set good goals for themselves. Some ways parents can help teens stay away from drugs, gangs, and gang violence include:

  • Talking and listening to their teens and letting their teens know that they care about them and want them to avoid drug use and gang involvement.
  • Setting aside time to do things as a family, like eating a meal together everyday without distractions like TVs or cell phones.
  • Encouraging the teen’s interests and positive goals.
  • Asking lots of questions about where teens are going, what they are doing, and who they will be with. Try to always know where teens will be, especially in the hours after school and at night.
  • Getting to know the teen’s friends and their friend’s parents, if possible.
  • Set clear rules with reasonable consequences, and be consistent in enforcing the rules and the consequences when the rules are broken.

When teens know their parents care and are keeping tabs on them they are less likely to be involved in illegal or violent activities and can go a long way in school violence prevention.

School Violence Prevention: School Shootings

Though school shootings are rare, they are tragic events. The US Secret Service did a study on school shootings and found that in most cases they can be prevented by watching for warning signs in students. Most shooters give indirect indications of their violent intentions before acting, such as by posting disturbing messages online or being fascinated by violence. Other students, and some adults, are usually aware of students that have violent tendencies, and should be encouraged to report their concerns.

Some other characteristics that school shooters have in common include:

  • Experiencing a perceived personal loss or failure
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
  • Feeling hurt by others
  • Having access to weapons

Though students with these characteristics may not become violent, they should receive extra counseling and guidance to help with school violence prevention.

Strategies for school violence prevention

Most experts agree that one of the most important aspects of developing a school violence prevention strategy is involving all of the stakeholders, including school faculty and staff, law enforcement, mental health professionals, social services, parents, and students in the efforts to prevent school violence.

Parents and schools should provide a positive environment, teaching students skills for good behavior like:

  • Having positive academic and life goals
  • Managing stress
  • Treating others with respect
  • Tolerating differences
  • Developing non-violent problem solving skills

One important part of school violence prevention is identifying and helping students early who have risk factors for violence, such as:

  • Lack of goals or academic success
  • Previous exposure to violence, such as abuse
  • Lack of self-discipline and problem-solving skills
  • Drugs or gang involvement
  • Being a bully or a bullying victim
  • Overly strict or overly permissive parents
  • Lack of adult involvement
  • Poverty
  • Exposure to media violence
  • Racism
  • Access to weapons

Schools and parents should not label such students or assume they will act violently, but should provide intervention, like anger management, tutoring, and counseling. Parents and schools should not just punish negative behaviors, but should teach and reward positive ones. Every student should have an adult they can turn to if they have a problem or need to talk.


National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center [online]

Consortium to Prevent School Violence [online]

US Secret Service, Secret Service Safe School Initiative [online]

Dean Walker, ERIC Digest, Number 94, "School Violence Prevention" [online]

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