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Parent Resources

What if the Next Shooting is at My School?

This fact sheet is part of the Teen talk: A survival guide for parents of teenagers series.

Jodi Dworkin, Extension Specialist and Associate Professor — Department of Family Social Science

Revised 2011. Reviewed April 2017 by author.

distressed child at school

Sometimes it can feel like the news is filled with reports of school shootings and other violence. However, according to National Center for Education Statistics, school-related violence is actually lower than in previous years. Statistically, school is the safest place for children to be. The majority of children are safe at school.

How to Talk to Your Teen

It is important to talk to your teenager about school violence and to listen to his thoughts and concerns on this issue.

How Schools Can Help Kids Stay Safe

Decreasing violence in schools requires a joint commitment from the school, the students, the parents, and the community. Here are some practices that schools have found to be effective:

What We Know About the Teens Committing These Crimes

Students who are potentially violent tend to exhibit more than one of the following:

Be aware of these additional warning signs in teens:

Where to Go for Help

Note that there is a difference between feeling down one day and being depressed. It is not normal for teenagers to be severely depressed or extremely moody!

If you observe any of these behaviors in your teen or another teen, contact the school counselor, your physician, or a mental health professional.


Coloroso, B. (2008). The bully, the bullied, and the bystander. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Espelage, D., & Swearer, S. M. (2010). Bullying in North American schools (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Garbarino, J. (2000). Lost boys: Why our sons turn violent and how we can save them. New York, NY: Doubleday.

Garbarino, J. (2007) See Jane hit: Why girls are growing more violent and what we can do about it. New York, NY: Penguin.

Garbarino, J. & deLara, E. (2003). And words can hurt forever: How to protect adolescents from bullying, harassment, and emotional violence. New York, NY: Free Press

National Center for Education Statistics. (n.d.). Fast Facts: School Crime.

Swearer, S., Espelage, D., & Napolitano, S. A. (2009). Bullying prevention and intervention: Realistic strategies for schools. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Related resources

About school violenceCenters for Disease Control and Prevention — Learn the definitions, review the data and statistics, and get prevention strategies.

Resources to help children in the wake of a school shootingChild Trends — Learn how to talk with children and teens about school shootings.

School safetyNational Crime Prevention Council — Tips and resources for students, parents, and teachers to help keep America's schools safe.

For parents: Violence preventionNational PTA — What PTAs can do and where to learn more information.

A positive school climate can mean a successful school yearChild Trends — An outline of what a positive school climate looks like for students, staff and families on a day-to-day basis.

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