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Is Your Child Safe From School Killers?

Violent crimes in U.S. schools which leave many students and teachers dead are on the rise, according to a new study by Dr. Mark Anderson of the Division of Violence Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. He reveals that in more than half of the cases studied, the perpetrators gave some kind of warning before they acted, meaning that ?school-associated violent deaths are preventable.?

?Although school-associated violent deaths remain rare events, they have occurred often enough to allow for the detection of patterns and the identification of potential risk factors,? write Anderson and his colleagues in the December 5th issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. They studied 220 deadly incidents that took place in schools between 1994 and 1999. Eighteen of the incidents resulted in the deaths of two or more people, and a total of 253 people were killed. ?The proportion of all school-associated student homicides that involved multiple victims has risen from 0% in 1992 to 42% in 1999. At the same time, the rate of single-victim student homicides has declined,? they say.

One factor that has contributed to school killings is the ?unsupervised access children have to firearms,? says Anderson. Also, in more than half of the incidents studied by the team, they found some type of warning, such as a note, threat, or diary entry, was given beforehand. In one third of the incidents, an actual verbal threat was made by the young killers.

These killers were far more likely to have shown suicidal behavior or attempted suicide than other students. And they were usually described as being bullied by the other kids.

?This study includes several important findings that might guide violence prevention activities,? say the authors. ?Most deaths occurred during the transition times around the start of school, the lunch period, and at the end of the school day.? These are times for teachers and supervisors to be particularly watchful. The researchers say that ?efforts to reduce crowding, increase supervision, and institute plans for handling disputes during these intervals may reduce the likelihood that conflicts will occur and injuries will result when they do.?

Which is a complex way of stating that schools need to keep an eye on every student and stop bullying before it escalates.

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