When Teens Threaten Violence, A Community Responds With Compassion (npr.org)


Psychologist John Van Dreal has spent almost 30 years working with troubled kids. Still, it's always unsettling to get the kind of phone call he received one morning eight years ago as he was on his way to a meeting.

"I got a call from the assistant principal at North [Salem] High, reporting that a student had made some threats on the Internet," remembers Van Dreal, the director of safety and risk management for Salem-Keizer Public Schools in Salem, Ore.

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Studies have shown that students contemplating violence are often in some kind of crisis, and the best way to move them off that path is to provide support and supervision to solve the problem.

Van Dreal says that is how you move kids away from violence — by creating safe environments and fostering solid connections with positive role models.

Some students may also need mental health care, or other extra layers of support, Van Dreal says. But in most cases, he has found, providing the student with just one positive relationship with an adult the student trusts can work wonders.

"Moving kids from despair to hope," he says. "That's the bumper sticker for what we do."

To read more of Rhitu Chatterjee and Rebecca Davis' article, please click here.


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