WEEK+11+-+Creating+Safe+Schools+for+Students (1)

WEEK+11+-+Creating+Safe+Schools+for+Students (1) - Children...

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Practice Update from the National Association of Social Workers © NASW January 2002 Volume 2, Number 3 January 2002 National Association of Social Workers 750 First Street NE – Suite 700 Washington, DC 20002-4241 Phone: 202-408-8600 TTD: 202-336-8396 Fax: 202-336-8311 Web: www.socialworkers.org The Social Context of Creating Safe Schools for Students INTRODUCTION The problem of school-based violence, in all forms, is not isolated to the setting in which it occurs. Rather, it is a function or manifestation of what occurs in the home, the school, and the surrounding community. In addition to these factors, school-based violence, to some extent, is also influenced by what occurs in the media, the entertainment industry, and even the political arena. On average, children and youths spend six to eight hours a day in the school setting, making it a likely environment for their problems, fears, anxieties, and other concerns to manifest. Aside from the "normal" challenges of child and adolescent development, such as puberty and identity formation, many school-age children are bombarded with real-life pressures for which they lack the appropriate coping skills and resources to respond. These students arrive at school with problems, fears, and anxieties in hand—ready for the school day. Furthermore, these students are at increased risk of school violence as either perpetrators or targets. Students must feel safe, be safe, and have their basic needs met to be emotionally, mentally, and physically available for learning. Schools that promote safety as a priority and that "satisfy students’ basic needs benefit from students’ improved attitudes and behaviors" (Learning First Alliance, 2001, p. vi). Public education is vital in working with students and their families to promote the total development of the child—intellectually, socially, and physically (NASW, 2000). The traditional focus of our nation's public school system has been on education, learning, and promoting 1
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"academic" success. While these areas should and must remain a top priority, schools that do not appreciate or address the needs of the "whole" student, and that fail to integrate the family and community will repeatedly fall short in meeting their students’ academic and social–emotional needs. However, just as students are presented with problems and new challenges, so are schools in how they choose to intervene and attempt to prevent school-based violence—how they choose to create safe schools for students. The Office of the Surgeon General in its study on youth violence, found that "in schools, interventions that target the social context appear to be more effective, on average, than those [interventions] that attempt to change individual attitudes, skills, and risk behaviors" (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001, p. xiii). Social work services across practice settings, not just schools, are rooted in the "person-in-environment," a
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WEEK+11+-+Creating+Safe+Schools+for+Students (1) - Children...

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