Now that kids have gone back to school and everyone has settled into a routine, you may be beginning to feel a bit more comfortable. Unfortunately, bullying, a threat of violence, the sight of a gun or knife at school or an overheard conversation in which a student is angry or planning revenge can unravel all feelings of calm for both students and parents.
With horror stories such as the tragic school shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado and others around the nation forever imprinted in our memories, we all know that the potential for school violence is always there. Therefore, we must be on guard and teach our children how to be responsible when it comes to keeping school safe.
It’s important to talk to your children about school violence before a tense situation arises. Let your child know that it’s okay to speak up. If your child hears another student, teacher or even parent, talk about getting back at someone, hurting or killing someone, destroying someone’s property or anything at all that makes your child feel uncomfortable, he or she needs to know that there is a way to get help without having to feel scared of becoming the target of the bully’s anger.
Of course, the first advice you should give your child is to inform a teacher or principal of what was seen or heard. If your child is not comfortable doing that, encourage him or her to confide in you and trust that you will take care of it. If your student is so upset by the situation that he or she is terrified of someone finding out who snitched, there is still help.
Talk to your child about the Missouri School Violence Hotline, which can be reached toll free at 1-866-748-7047. This hotline is available to St. Louis students as well as students in all other counties of Missouri. Anyone who calls this number can report a scary or suspicious incident at school and not have to give his or her own name. The operator will collect as much information about the event as possible, the name of the person making the threats or bullying or a description of the person if the name is not known, the name of the school and any other identifying information the caller can give. Reporting is completely anonymous for the caller, but the information collected will immediately be sent to the appropriate school officials or law enforcement agency. Disciplinary or legal action will then be taken by the local authorities.
The Missouri School Violence Hotline is answered Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. However, if students want even more anonymity, they can text “Report It” to 847411 along with the name of the school and the city. Furthermore, there is an online reporting tool, so kids can report school violence or bullying without anyone knowing who told.
When it comes to weapons, fighting, bullying or other violence at school, children need to know that there is a way to get help, so that no one gets hurt.
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