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School Shootings and Student Violence

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Although student school shootings of students have recently gained significant national attention, more routine forms of student violence (e.g., homicide, rape, aggravated assault, etc.) continue to plague our nation's schools and streets. These less sensational but equally harmful violent behaviors warrant appropriate response. What are the high risk factors to consider in assessing potentially violent and violent students?

I would appreciate a brief summary of the high risk factors to consider when assessing whether a student is potentially violent. Are there specific guidelines to follow? Describe briefly the importance of assessment and diagnosis with potentially violent and violent students. Do you know of some good sources to recommend on this topic?

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Solution Summary

This solution identifies and explains the high risk factors to consider in assessing and diagnosing violence in students, including some guidelines to follow in the process. Statistics are then provided as evidence for the importance of assessing and diagnosing violence in students. (19 sources)

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1. What are the high risk factors to consider in assessing potentially violent and violent students?

HIGH-RISK FACTORS (Source: Juhnke, et al 1999)

1. Violent Drawings or Writings. Violent students often indicate their intentions before acting violently via drawings or writings. Counselors learning of such violent drawings or writings should not easily dismiss such violent expressions. Violent poems,
letters to friends, or letters to the intended victim are clear indications of violent potential. Hence, further assessment is warranted whenever a student uses age inappropriate violent drawings or writings.

2. Threats of Violence Towards Others. Any threat of violence towards others should be immediately assessed and appropriate intervention actions should be taken to insure safety. Direct threats such as, "I'm going to kill him" as well as veiled threats such as, "Something big is going to happen to you after school" clearly are inappropriate and warrant immediate assessment and intervention. Threats should be assessed for: (a) lethality, (b) the degree to which a violent plan exists, and (c) the student's ability to secure the indicated weapon or harm instrument (e.g., poison, automobile). Any threat indicated by a student which is realistic, well planned, and highly lethal should be considered viable.

3. Past Violent Behaviors or Aggressive History. Students who have been violent in the past or have demonstrated aggressive behaviors towards others are at greater risk of repeating such behaviors. Thus, these students are noted as being at greater risk for future violent behaviors.

4. Animal Torturing. There exists a high correlation between students who torture animals and violence. Students who regularly torture animals or intentionally inflict harm upon animals should be assessed for violent ideation towards others.

5. Recent Relationship Break. Students who have recently experienced a relationship break (e.g., being jilted by a girlfriend or best friend) have an increased likelihood of being violent.

6. Isolation. The vast majority of students who isolate themselves from peers or who appear friendless typically are not violent. However, one high-risk factor which has been strongly correlated with violent behaviors towards school peers is isolation. For this reason, students isolating themselves or reporting feelings of being isolated from others should be considered at greater risk.

7. Teased or Perceptions of Being Teased, Harassed, or "Picked On". Violent students often have a hypersensitivity toward criticism. These students report perceptions of being teased, harassed or being picked on by those they were violent toward. Therefore, students indicating feelings that they are being teased, harassed, or "picked on" should be assessed to determine whether or not they either intend to harm or fantasize about harming others.

8. Social Withdrawal. Withdrawal from peers and familial supports can indicate the student is experiencing any of a number of concerns (e.g., depression, helplessness) which warrant assessment and intervention. When combined with other risk factors, social withdrawal may signal potential violence toward others.

9. Inappropriate Use or Access to Firearms. Students who inappropriately use firearms by shooting at people, homes, or vehicles or have improper, unsupervised firearm access have a clear ...

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