Let’s add another tool for preventing more school violence: training for compassionate kids. Look for programs being used across the country online at compassionschools.org/news. Many of the young men who turn to violence against their school suffered bullying there, which trashed their self-esteem and left them enraged. Of course, these aren’t the only kids who were bullied, ridiculed or shunned enough to leave school with lifelong hurt and anger.
While we’re pouring money into paying for school staff to be armed with guns, perhaps some money could be directed to arm them with ways to help kids be kind to each other. In 2009 Amy Novotny (Monitor on Psychology) described two broad studies where Martin Seligman demonstrated that programs teaching self-understanding and compassion were powerful. They raised the level of academic and social skills generally, and reduced the number of discipline problems and reports of depressed kids. At compassionschools.org it was also noted that the kids and teachers really liked the programs. Sounds like a win-win all around.
Rea Anne Scovill, Ph.D., Boise