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EFFECTIVE PREVENTION STRATEGIES

Provide information to teachers, students, parents and the community about violence prevention. This is essential if you want to begin to effect change.
 
Your Violence Prevention Program must include information and activities that promote the following skills:
Communication
Assertiveness
Decision-Making
Refusal/Resistance
Coping Skills
Goal-Setting
 
Enlist the help of your students to act as peer helpers/peer educators. Often times, the same message coming from a peer can have a greater impact.

Involve parents. Schools alone can only do so much good in preventing violence if parents and guardians are not reinforcing non-violent messages at home. Let parents in your district know what you are trying to do in your school and make sure they know how important it is that they support and join you in your efforts.

Launch public information and educational campaigns. This might include publishing informational articles in your local paper or school bulletin, hosting educational seminars on the topic. You can get very creative with this part of your violence prevention plan.

Provide alternatives to violence for students! Research has shown that too much free time can be very dangerous for children. The hours between 3-7pm are when kids get into the most trouble. Giving them other things to do and activities in which to participate can keep them from turning idle time into violent time. Recreation programs, after school clubs, service learning, etc., are good alternatives to “hanging out” and being bored.

Your program should have a well-organized curriculum that touches on topics related to violence and is culturally sensitive. It must also include developmentally appropriate activities. This can be tailored to your particular district once you’ve conducted a needs assessment or a violence survey at your school to gauge the severity and gather details of the concerns you need to address. There should be anywhere from 10-20 sessions during the school year devoted to violence prevention, with 5 or so additional follow-up sessions over the course of the next year. You should design your program with the help of other school personnel so that you include the perspectives of others and make sure that you have everyone’s “buy-in” as you move forward. Incorporate group work, cooperative learning, discussions and role-play in order to engage children in the process. Lecturing will do very little. Children need to express their own perceptions and experiences relating to violence and be involved in the change process for it to have any lasting effects.

Provide teacher training on the topic of violence prevention, above and beyond that which is now required by Project SAVE. Let teachers know what factors underlie violent or aggressive behavior in children and give them the opportunity to assist you in detecting, correcting and preventing violence in the school. You share the school; you need to share the knowledge.
Evaluate the effectiveness of what you are doing on a regular basis. If you do not assess the effectiveness of your program, you may be wasting your time doing things that are having no effect of the prevention of violence in your school or community. The following article has some interesting information on what effective violence prevention programs must include, and suggestions for how programs should be evaluated.
http://eric-web.tc.columbia.edu/digest/dig132.asp
 
An effective program will prevent or reduce substance abuse or violent and disruptive behavior, will begin to change the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs that lead to substance abuse and violent behavior, and promote and strengthen positive behaviors and skills.
As a counselor seeking to reduce the likelihood of violence, you want to create motivation for learning pro-social skills, demonstrate those skills, have students practice those skills and then implement them into real life situations.