Law Talk October 2015
While there is a correlation between deaths caused by school violence and easy access to guns, the studies show that preventive measures must inevitably address other contributory factors such as personal, cultural and social roots of violence in our society.
As part of its efforts aimed at preventing school-related fatalities, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), relying on data collected in partnership with Departments of Education and Justice, lists the following as risk behaviors that are likely to contribute to violence:
- Individual Risk Factors: attention deficits, low IQ, hyperactivity, learning disorders, early aggressive behavior, involvements with drugs and alcohol, poor behavioral control, antisocial beliefs and attitudes, exposure to violence and conflict in family;
- Family Risk Factors: low level of parental involvement, education or income, parental substance abuse or criminality, poor family functioning, monitoring and supervision;
- Peer and Social Risk Factors: involvement in gangs, social rejection by peers, school failure or poor performance;
- Community Risk Factors: socially disorganized or economically deprived neighborhoods, high level of transiency, family disruption and low level of community participation. These risk factors contribute to youth violence, bullying, fighting, dating/sexual violence, weapon carrying and suicide.
The Center also studies protective risk factors that are believed to buffer young people from the risks of becoming violent:
1. Individual Protective Factors: high IQ, intolerance towards violence or deviance, positive social orientation, highly developed social skills, religiosity;
2. Family Protective Factor: ability to discuss problems with parents, frequent shared activities with parents, consistent presence of parents during either of morning awakening or bed times, meal times and arrival from school, parental strategies to cope with problems;
3. Peer and Social Protective Factors: positive relationships with non-deviant peers, involvement in pro-social activities, teacher and parental engagements, etc.
While our nation continues to be divided over dichotomies such as the impact of gun control laws on school-related fatalities, we have better odds of standing united in addressing the underlying contributory factors. We, the parents, the neighbors, the schools, the mentors, the faith groups, the mental health professionals, and certainly the community leaders, have no choice but to start the conversation from a broader, and more unifying, perspective. Our children’s lives are too precious to leave to chance with the political process.