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School Violence: What Students Can Do

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
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After hearing news of school shootings or violence, it's natural for students to worry about whether something like this may someday happen to them or their friends.

When a tragedy like this happens, it's normal to feel sad and anxious. It's natural to want to make sense of the situation.

Why Does School Violence Happen?

School violence isn't easy to understand. There is no single reason why students become violent. Some are just following behavior they've seen at home, on the streets, or in video games, movies, or TV. Some are dealing with mental health problems. Some people who turn violent have been bullied. They may feel isolated and rejected by their peers. These are only a few of the reasons why a person may turn violent.

But there's one thing experts agree on. Having access to guns or other weapons makes it easier for some people to lash out against the things or people they don't like.

What Can I Do?

Someone on the verge of violence may show warning signs. These can include:

  • playing with weapons of any kind
  • talking about violence or weapons
  • talking a lot about violent movies or violent games
  • bullying or making threats
  • cruelty to pets or other animals

If you see signs like these, tell a teacher, parent, or school counselor. A student who is showing signs like these may need help and support. And safety at school is up to everyone.

If you have concerns about safety at school, reach out to an adult who will listen and help. Many schools have set up ways to report bullying or signs of violence anonymously. Students can share concerns without giving their name. Find out if your school has something like this. If they don't, ask if they can set it up.

What Else Can I Do?

Violence is an issue that many students care deeply about. They care about reducing violence at schools, in neighborhoods, in relationships, and in families. Many have personal stories about how violence has touched their own lives.

Some schools have programs that bring students together to share their experiences — and to talk about solutions.

One program, Do the Write Thing, brings students together with a teacher to talk, write, and do things to create positive change. If you think a program like this could be a good fit for your school, talk with a teacher who might be a good mentor. Together, you can find out more.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: September 2021