Elements of Effective Violence Prevention Programs

Instructor: Kathryn Lawson

Kathryn has a doctorate in clinical psychology and a master's degree in criminal justice. She has experience with college instruction and staff training.

In this lesson, you will learn about effective violence prevention in schools and ways in which parents can and should be involved in violence prevention efforts.

Effective Violence Prevention

Although serious school violence is actually quite rare, educators, parents, and policymakers typically view any occurrence as one too many. School violence is commonly defined as violence that occurs at school, on the way to or from school, or at a school activity.

Effective violence prevention programs should be evidence-based. It is not enough for them to seem useful; there should be research supporting their effectiveness. In addition to this evidence, the program's results should be considered satisfactory by students, parents, and community stakeholders.

Violence prevention programs should be maintained over time, regardless of any changes in school administration and other personnel. They should also include interventions that can be delivered in typical circumstances with existing or usual resources. After all, a program that has the buy-in of only a handful of staff members and requires extraordinary circumstances and resources to implement is not a program that is likely to last long.

The Role of Parents in the Home

Evidence-based violence prevention programs emphasize the importance of parental involvement in their children's lives and schooling. It is clear that active and effective parenting can help prevent school violence. This includes such activities as:

  • Taking time to talk with children about their activities and concerns
  • Setting limits and ensuring consistent discipline
  • Ensuring that parents know their children's friends and activities; working with other parents to establish rules for adult supervision
  • Teaching effective problem-solving and modeling conflict resolution skills
  • Limiting access to media violence
  • Keeping firearms out of children's reach and teaching gun safety
  • Being alert for warning signs in children

The section below discusses these warning signs in more detail.

Warning Signs in Children and Teens

There are a number of warning signs that can indicate potential problems that should be addressed. It should be emphasized that all of these warning signs may not be a sign of imminent violence; they can be a more general indicator of distress and dysfunction. However, they should not be ignored under any circumstances. Some of these warning signs are:

Loss of interest in activities or relationships that previously held interest.

The key here is a change in the level of interest. For example, Mark comes from a hockey family. His parents and siblings are all heavily involved in hockey, and family schedules tend to revolve around practices and matches. Mark himself has never been interested in hockey, but has loved chess since he was a small boy. If Mark expresses a lack of interest in hockey, this is not really a warning sign. It is status quo. However, if Mark suddenly loses interest in chess and stops participating in chess activities, this is an indicator to which attention should be paid.

Disruptions in eating or sleeping cycles.

Students may eat too much or too little, or sleep too much or too little. Much like the loss of interest example above, the change in eating or sleeping represents an actual change in that individual's own patterns and not a deviation from family expectations or perceived 'normal' behaviors.

Preoccupation with violence.

The child may become more interested in violent television or video games, and/or the child's own writings and drawings may show an increase in violent themes. Most alarmingly, the child may actually make overt threats of violence. These threats should never be dismissed as 'talk.' They are a serious indicator of risk.

The Role of Parents in the School

In addition to enforcing consistent discipline, modeling appropriate problem-solving, attending to warning signs, and engaging in other violence prevention efforts at home, there are a number of activities parents can engage in at the school. Consistent with our discussion of the elements of effective violence prevention programs, these activities can be implemented with typical resources in normal circumstances, regardless of staff or administrator turnover. School-based activities in which parents can engage include:

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account