Risk-Proof Your Child

What you can do to safeguard your kid at school.

For most parents, the horrific images of Columbine and the Amish school shooting in Pennsylvania are indelibly etched in their minds. Between shopping for school supplies and seeing your child off on that first school day of the year, chances are the thoughts will cross your mind, Could a shooting happen at my child's school? and What can I do to protect my child?

Here's some good news: According to the U.S. Department of Education, the Centers for Disease Control, and National School Safety Center, less than 1 percent of all homicides among school-age children occur in or around school grounds. School's still one of the safest places for your child to be. But problems at school such as bullying—a common thread that runs through the experiences of many of the perpetrators of school violence—remain. Add that to a pop culture that desensitizes our youth to violence, and there's cause for concern.

How can you help your child avoid either becoming the victim or the perpetrator of violence? What's the best way to risk-proof your child against bullying or the impact of pop-culture violence? To get some answers, I talked to Linda Mintle, Ph.D., a licensed clinical social worker, author of Kids Killing Kids (Creation House), and concerned mom of two children. Here are "Dr. Linda's" insights on the issues.

If school's still the safest place for a kid to be, why all the concern about school violence?

Dr. Linda: Violence seems to be happening at earlier and earlier ages. We're seeing more incidences in middle school now. And since statistics show most violence is perpetrated by boys, it's important to take a look at the cultural factors that define masculinity. In our culture, unfortunately, part of that is being aggressive. In movies, the hero's often the guy who comes in and shoots 'em up. There's a lot of glorification of guns and violence in our culture.

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May 25

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