Elementary School Violence is a Real Issue
Recently I shared this article about the prevalence of violence in elementary schools…and my readers?
They let me know that increasing rates of violent behavior is a major concern of theirs.
And it should be for all of us.
Parents, students and teachers are all affected by the violence in an institution that should provide a safe place for learning.
Among our readers we had elementary school teachers chime in and tell us what was really going on behind closed doors in elementary schools.
And some of their comments were eye-opening.
How Can We Help Lessen School Violence?
Here’s a few quotes to show you exactly what I’m referring to.
“This was my teacher life for 2 years in a row. Getting physically attacked by a student in my Gen Ed classroom. I’m not afraid to say I started going to a therapist because mentally it also does damage, not just physically.”
“Have been in this position twice at two different schools. It can be scary but yes you think of your other students first and you try to protect them from objects flying (using yourself as a shield) as you’re getting the class out of harms way.”
But one teacher got my attention.
She wrote her comments with passion, urgency and experience.
And it inspired me to write this article…in hopes of sharing her wisdom.
I want to thank Katy McNiff, an Elementary Music teacher with public and charter school experience for sharing her opinions on this extremely important matter. She has Masters degrees in Conducting and Music Education and is passionate about education!
Many of us cheered her on and encouraged her to continue to speak the truth about elementary violence in school.
What Can Parents and School Supervisors Do To Help End Elementary School Violence?
There’s no simple solution to ending elementary school violence…
Political and educational leaders have debated about solutions for years.
Here’s even a proposed bill in Minnesota that would allow students to be expelled from school for one year if they showed violence towards a teacher.
Some of us would love to see laws like that invoked in order to protect the educators who sacrifice so much for our kids.
These proposed changes from an elementary school teacher gives many of us hope…
Hope of a better future for our kids.
Hope of a better future for our grandkids.
Hope for a better educational system for elementary-aged children.
Changes that Could Lessen Elementary School Violence — Tips from a Teacher!
Giving more outside play time.
Parents and teachers are adamant that outside time helps younger kids be less aggressive.
As a mom of six kids and a past elementary school teacher, I have to agree that younger kids tend to exhibit more positive attitudes when they have extended playtime outdoors.
When my own children were between the ages two and eight years old, I made sure they played outside for one hour a day. It made a huge difference!
Creating smaller class sizes.
As much as I respect school teachers, I have to admit they are not super-humans. They can only realistically oversee so many children in one classroom.
When children are placed with fewer students, they typically receive more individualized attention, which helps kids avoid frustrating circumstances.
School administrators should never be afraid to give consequences such as detention or even expulsion for violent behavior.
When consequences are given, it discourages students from repeating violent behavior as well as shows other potentially violent students that violent behavior only leads to a negative outcome. When we stand by and do nothing, we’re continuing to allow the violent behavior to continue.
Adding more counselors to the school staff.
Elementary aged children can undergo many difficult issues at home.
When young children go through difficult circumstances, it’s a comfort for them to know there’s someone at their school who can listen and help.
Someone who understands…
Someone who has wisdom and offers guidance…
And trained counsellors often have insight into emotional issues that can help young children regulate their emotions without resorting to violence.
During my time as a school teacher, I noticed otherwise well-behaved children become violent when there was trouble at home.
We should offer these young children all the support they need!
Getting parents involved.
As parents, we do share some of the blame in this issue.
Many times we’re tempted to view elementary school as a free, baby-sitting service.
Sounds harsh, but several of my friends have used those same exact words to describe school days.
I love those friends, but sometimes our desire for more “me time” causes us to be less involved in our children’s education.
We should know what our kids are studying in school.
We should know the names of our child’s classroom peers.
We should know what activities are taking place and if our child is having difficulties with other students or the teacher.
When I was teaching a group of 16 four-year olds, I noticed our most well-behaved students were the ones who had parents that often stopped and chatted with me and the other teacher.
They would ask questions and spend time talking to their child when they dropped her off or picked her up.
As parents, we absolutely need to get involved in our child’s education.
When we’re involved we’re support our kids and their teachers!
Facing the truth.
Our kids will never, ever succeed in this world if we always assume our kids are right and their teachers or other leaders are at fault.
We have to face reality and admit that our kids are little humans.
Humans mess up.
Humans aren’t perfect.
And little humans need big humans to guide them as they learn what behavior is and isn’t appropriate.
Lessening screen time.
It’s incredibly easy to let TV or iPads babysit our kids.
I know…I feel the burden of balancing work, house tasks, budgeting, health and parenting.
But the future stability of our children is greatly dependent on how much face-to-face, human interaction they get from us on a daily basis.
Try doing a screen fast for five days (you can try these screen-free activities instead!) and see what a difference it makes in your kid!
Providing positive role models.
As parents, we automatically become a role model to our kids.
Even if we feel like our life is full of failures, we have to move forward and give our kids a positive role model.
If we want our kids to be honest and hard-working, we need to make sure we’re modeling those same characteristics to our children.
It’s incredibly tough to practice what we preach, but the diligence will pay off when our kids are more peaceful and less violent in school!
Refusing to think violent behavior is “cute”.
It’s not cute when a five year old continues to punch older siblings, his uncle and his older neighbor friend.
If the hitting is never addressed, it could show up later in the classroom.
Kids aren’t ignorant.
They know if we’re excusing their violent behavior in school.
Sometimes we may even grasp for reasons like sensitivity to certain foods, sensitivity to sounds and or the inability to regulate their emotions.
But whatever our child struggles with, we should never let those struggles be an excuse to physically harm another person.
Whether it’s harming a teacher, parent or a peer…there should never ben an “understandable” reason for violence.
Violence against others is a serious crime and we should instill that reality in our children from the earliest years of their lives.
Encouraging kids to respect authority.
Don’t let your kids mock parents, grandparents, police, community leaders or teachers.
Kids should respect adults and others with their words and body language.
Teachers should be viewed as leaders who deserve respect for investing their time, energy and talents into your child’s academic future.
Disclosure: I know there are some ill-behaved educators out there, but they are the exception. Raise your kids to know when to respect and when to speak out against someone who is trying to harm them in anyway. There are many wonderful educators out there that simply have a passion for teaching kids!
Those educators should be given respect and honor for their positions…not be scared to go to work because of a violent student!
Re-thinking positive enforcement only systems.
According to several teachers we chatted with, they advised us that the positive enforcement systems were not working for kids who are more likely to demonstrate truly violent behavior.
You can read more about thoughts on this topic in our article Dear Mom of the Child Who Hits.
Understanding the rights of all students.
Violence in elementary schools could possibly be lessened if school administrators invested time to understanding a child’s rights in the classroom — especially the rights of the 18 other children being victimized by the one, violent troublemaker.
That violent child is often kept in the room despite behavior because it will “take away from their instructional time”.
What do you think?
Would Those 13 changes Lessen Violence in Elementary Schools?
Those 13 suggested changes are simply educated guesses on what could make our schools of education more peaceful, pleasant places for teachers and students.
They’re passionate opinions formed from years of parenting and teaching experience.
And that same experience inspires us to ask this question:
If we can’t quench violence in elementary schools, what will happen when the violence continues into middle and high school?
We need to strive to do our part to lessen violence.
Even if that means avoiding popular parenting tips that fuel misbehavior in our own children.
But I want to hear your thoughts…
What’s been your experience with violence in the school system?
Has your child been the victim of another student who was repetitively violent? Are you a teacher who has suffered from threats and violent behavior?
Have you been in a school where the administrative handle violence beautifully and actually helped lessen the violence in your chid’s school?
Let’s chat about it in our All Things Mommy Facebook group and see how we can help our kids enjoy a better educational experience!