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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Reporting threats: it's not really tattling

Tuesday, October 2, 2001

Violent incidents occasionally occur in schools despite the best prevention efforts.

Parents can strengthen these efforts by taking an active role in violence prevention. One way that families and schools, working together, can head off violence is by persuading children to report threats and dangerous behavior by their peers.

It's not tattling. Children hate to think of themselves as tattletales. You have to teach them that there's a big difference between tattling and reporting.

Tell any adult. Sometimes a child is reluctant to approach a teacher, principal, or parent with information about a possibly dangerous situation. Let your children know that it's all right to go to any adult they feel comfortable with.

Write it down. Children often feel uncomfortable talking with an adult about things like threats they've overheard. Make sure they understand that it's OK to write a note instead.

It's no joke. Teach your children that it's not funny to joke about setting off a bomb in school, making a "hit list," or killing someone.

Talk to them. Encourage your children to talk with you about school and their activities. Show them that you care about what they're doing and their safety, and listen carefully when they talk about their concerns or feeling.

Be a snoop. Don't be embarrassed to listen to your children's conversations with their friends or even to check their e-mail (which is usually readily accessible).

Call for help. There have been cases where a child has warned and adult about a threat, only to have the adult not follow up on it - with tragic results. If your child has reason to be concerned about potential violence, you should contact either the school principal or the police.

Don't "diss." Teach your children to respect their peers, and that "dissing" other children is never acceptable - and could be dangerous.

Report bullies. Most schools have programs to help children who feel they are being harassed by their peers.

Inform the principal. Let your children know that an important part of their principal's job is to keep them safe.

Talk about tragedies. Use these incidents as opportunities to discuss school violence with your children.

Assure them that schools are safe environments, but stress the importance of keeping their schools safe by reporting any dangerous, disturbing, or destructive behavior or threats they hear or observe.

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