Violence prevention in-service set Jan. 29

Violence prevention in-service set Jan. 29 The Vermillion School District will devote a full day of in-service to the subject of Violence Prevention on Friday, Jan. 29.

Violence among young people is growing at an alarming rate. Consider some of the following statistics:

* Nearly 20 percent of all violent crime arrests in 1994 involved a person younger than 18.

* In 1994, 8,116 people from 15-24 years old in the US were victims of homicide, an average of 22 homicide victims/day.

* Annual rates of firearm homicide for people from 15-19 years old increased 155 percent between 1987-1994.

Aside from loss of life, research suggest four major effects of violence on young people:

* They become less likely to help victims.

* They become desensitized to violence.

* They become more fearful and mistrustful.

* They become more violent.

(Information taken from Preventing Violence: Changing Norms in School Communities, CHEF 1997.)

Despite these dismal statistics and the growing number of violent incidents in schools across the nation, the American Psychological Association's Commission on Violence and Youth does give us some hope. Their findings conclude that "Although … the problem of violence involving youth is staggering … there is overwhelming evidence that we can intervene effectively in the lives of young people to reduce or prevent their involvement in violence."

Vermillion School District has been fortunate not to have experienced any major incidents of violence.

However, when at all possible, the district has chosen to be proactive rather than reactive, hence the district-wide in-service day.

The elementary level in-service will be a full day with Beverly Title of the Hazelden Foundation. Her focus will be "Respect and Protect." She will address the difference between normal conflict and bully/victim conflict, as well as the violence continuum and school norms. She will focus on violence prevention, however she will also give practical steps in dealing with conflicts that so arise. This presentation will be held in Jolley School's media center.

The middle and high school in-service will be a half-day presentation for each level. The presenter is Elliot Hermann of the Comprehensive Health Education Foundation (CHEF). CHEF is a Seattle-based nonprofit organization which was the pioneer in developing research-based, mixed-media programs such as Natural Helpers, Here's Looking At You 2000 and Get Real About Violence.

This presentation will include information about creating school norms emphasizing respect and tolerance, violence prevention techniques, behavior identification and specific de-escalation strategies.

Both presentations will be held at USD's Center for Continuing Education. The middle school portion will be from 8 to 11:15 a.m. and the high school portion will be from 12:15 to 3:15 p.m.

For additional information, contact Patty Larsen, prevention coordinator, 677-7035.

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