Responding to urban violence: what teachers tell us they can and must do in their classrooms.Children in all areas are exposed both directly and indirectly to violence. Proportionally, children in urban settings have more frequent exposure to violence. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the Children's Defense Fund The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) is a national organization that is committed to the social Welfare of children. Founded in 1973, the nonprofit group uses its annual $9 million budget to lobby legislators and to speak out publicly on a broad array of issues on the law, the family, and (2007), a child or teen is killed by gunfire every three hours--nearly eight a day (www.childrensdefense.org). Simply feeling safe in the neighborhood is not guaranteed for many children. The Washington Post (2007) reported on the results of an October 2007 Associated Press Associated Press: see news agency.
Associated Press (AP)
Cooperative news agency, the oldest and largest in the U.S. and long the largest in the world. poll about Halloween trick-or-treating, focusing on "how people view the safety of their neighborhoods. Lower-income people and minorities are more likely to worry that it might not be safe to send their children out on Halloween night." This month's column addresses what teachers in urban schools have told us about what they do to support the children in their classrooms whose lives bring them into frequent contact with violence.
We can understand children's experiences with violence through an ecological ecological
emanating from or pertaining to ecology.
the state of balance in an ecosystem when its inhabitants have established their permanent relationships with each systems framework. Urie Bronfenbrenner Urie Bronfenbrenner (April 29, 1917–September 25, 2005) was a renowned psychologist, known for developing his Ecological Systems Theory, and as a co-founder of the Head Start program in the United States for disadvantaged pre-school children. , developmental psychologist, theorist the·o·rist
One who theorizes; a theoretician.
a person who forms theories or who specializes in the theory of a particular subject.
See also: Ideas, Learning
Noun 1. , and pioneer in the Head Start program, describes children's development in "nested systems" (1979). We can step back and look through this lens at children, and what they experience in their daily lives; at the teachers and classrooms, where children may have an opportunity to be safe and begin to make sense of their world; and at the community, where children experience violence and also caring, comfort, and hope. Let us hear from the teachers.
Teachers Responding to Children's Needs: What They Tell Us About What They Do
Teacher conversations reveal they are confronting violence in two ways: 1) through school-wide or system-wide curriculum and 2) through their responses to the perceived needs of children in their classrooms.
Teachers consistently say that what they provide beyond curriculum activities and lesson plans is the most important factor in helping children who are experiencing violence and other types of risk factors. In the teachers' words, common themes in these efforts are being there, listening, understanding, modeling, creating a safe space at school, and helping children find their own strengths, interests, and talents.
"Listening is key. Letting them know you are there for them in all ways. Find things that he/she is interested in, find their talents and focus on them." "Allowing them to talk about it and express their feelings. Emphasize that they are not alone; there may be others experiencing the same thing." "Model ways to release stress and problem-solve while providing chances for them to practice social skills through play." "Let them know that you are there for them, available to help, that they are safe with you and that you care for them."
What Teachers Also Say About Their Own Needs
The stresses that children experience in urban settings are often felt by teachers. At the end of a day of being a listener, model, and supporter, teachers find that they need some of this same reassurance REASSURANCE. When an insurer is desirous of lessening his liability, he may procure some other insurer to insure him from loss, for the insurance he has made this is called reassurance. . What teachers need is emotional support from co-workers, reminders of their own strengths, peer mentors for the rough spots, a safe place to vent, and time for self-reflection. Teachers also suggest: "Take a mental shower when you go home. Give children a clean slate Noun 1. clean slate - an opportunity to start over without prejudice
fresh start, tabula rasa
chance, opportunity - a possibility due to a favorable combination of circumstances; "the holiday gave us the opportunity to visit Washington"; "now is your chance" each day and appreciate each day with them."
Taking Back the Playground
What follows is the story of one teacher's experience in an urban school. Her story is valuable to us in our efforts to address factors that lead to violence in urban and other settings. It is also particularly appropriate for springtime. There are environmental connections to Earth Day and implications for children who would like to enjoy playing outdoors again after a long winter. The teacher, the families, the children and, ultimately, the community joined the effort.
Kate's Story: "After watching a video about environmental racism Environmental racism is intentional or unintentional racial discrimination in the enforcement of environmental rules and regulations, the intentional or unintentional targeting of minority communities for the siting of polluting industries such as toxic waste disposal, or the , I became interested in the environment in the neighborhood where I teach. We had an incident at the school where a child in the pre-K class picked up a hypodermic needle hypodermic needle
1. A hollow needle used with a hypodermic syringe.
2. A hypodermic syringe including the needle. and accidentally pricked his finger with it. Then, another incident occurred when needles and other drug paraphernalia drug paraphernalia Controlled paraphernalia Substance abuse As defined in a regulatory context, DP is a hypodermic syringe, needle, metal or plastic (snorting) tube, or other instrument or implement or combination adapted for the administration of controlled were found on the playground. I organized a meeting with some teachers and parents to discuss what we could do about this issue. We started a community clean-up initiative and met once a week to clean up the playgrounds and the field outside the school. At the meeting, parents voiced concerns about lighting and safety at night, so we made a list of important phone numbers in our mayor's office and school system headquarters and we had parents calling every day. We also had students get involved by making signs and banners to keep our playgrounds safe. We had a march around the community, handing out flyers for our clean-up days. A local business provided supplies. The initiative caught the attention of the local media and, on one of the clean-up days, the local television station came to film the event for the evening news. We have taken back the playground!"
Violence Prevention Curriculum Curricula established for character education, violence prevention, anti-bullying, and conflict resolution can help, according to teachers. "Our prevention program gives children the tools to find a non-violent response to a conflict. I feel this is very necessary for what is going on all over the world today." Through these programs, teachers can help children to learn and use tools to resolve the inevitable conflicts they experience without resorting to violence (Nelson, Palonsky, & McCarthy, 2007). Teachers do voice concerns about spending time "Spending Time" is the first single released by Christian artist Stellar Kart.
The lyrics describe the band members desire to spend "more time with God". "Sometimes it’s a real struggle to spend time with God. for these activities when faced with mandated content curriculum and preparation for high-stakes assessments. "Do classroom teachers have enough time to implement these ideas along with the 'must do' curriculum they already have?" Nel Noddings Nel Noddings (1929– ) is an American feminist, educationalist, and philosopher best known for her work in philosophy of education, educational theory, and ethics of care. asked an important question about rethinking what the conditions in our schools should be in order for students to arrive at the goals of violence prevention and character education curricula (Nelson et al., 2007).
Finally, these narratives of teachers taking on the role of activist in their community schools are signs of hope. Together. we can make a difference in the lives of children and communities facing violence on a daily basis.
Special thanks to our contributing author, Katherine Thompson, for sharing her Take Back the Playground experience.
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press The Harvard University Press is a publishing house, a division of Harvard University, that is highly respected in academic publishing. It was established on January 13, 1913. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. . Children's Defense Fund. (2007). America's cradle to prison pipeline. Retrieved October 31, 2007, from www.childrensdefense.org.
Fram, A. (October 28, 2007). Minorities less likely to trick or treat. Retrieved October 31, 2007, from www.washingtonpost.com.
Nelson, J. L., Palonsky, S. B., & McCarthy, M. R. (2007). Critical issues in education: Dialogues and dialectics di·a·lec·tic
1. The art or practice of arriving at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments.
a. (6th ed.). Boston: McGraw Hill
Violence Prevention and Anti-Gang Websites for Teachers, Families and Children
ERIC Digest. Preventing Violence by Elementary School elementary school: see school. Children--www.ericdigests.org/2000-3/children.htm
Chowne, Parson Stoyle
terrorizes parish; kidnaps children. [Br. Lit.: The Maid of Sker, Walsh Modern, 94–95]
bully; becomes thief in Fagin’s gang. [Br. Lit. : Information for Parents and Teachers--A 22-page excerpt ex·cerpt
A passage or segment taken from a longer work, such as a literary or musical composition, a document, or a film.
tr.v. ex·cerpt·ed, ex·cerpt·ing, ex·cerpts
1. from an edition of A.S.A.P.: A School-based Anti-Violence Program. Written by the Center for Children and Families in the Justice System (Ontario, Canada). www.lfcc.on.ca/bully.htm
Children Join Anti-Violence Efforts (Children's Hospital Boston Children's Hospital Boston is a children's hospital located in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area of Boston, Massachusetts. Located at 300 Longwood Avenue, Children's is adjacent both to its teaching affiliate, Harvard Medical School, and to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. )--www.childrenshospital.org/chnews09-01-06/childrens joins
MeGruff, the Crime-Fighting Dog (About Gangs for Children)--www.mcgruff.org/Advice/gangs
Violence Prevention Resources on the Web, including Youth Violence--www.pavnet.org/viores.htm
--Edyth Wheeler, firstname.lastname@example.org Aline Stomfay-Stitz, email@example.com