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Listening, looking out can help stop school violence

March 06, 2012|By John Paul | WSBT-TV Reporter

Look out and listen: Experts told police, teachers and school administrators doing those two things can help stop school violence.

Around 200 people attended a safe school initiative at Penn High School today put on by the Secret Service and the Department of Education. They learned from a school violence study that in more than half of the attacks – someone knew the attacker's plan.

The same rules for first responders work for parents. Experts want you to know... listening to your child is so important.

Northeast Ohio is hard to forget. A Chardon High School student shot and killed three teens. Two were injured.

People 200 miles away from Chardon, Ohio are already learning from it.

"We've been doing a lot of things right," said Dr. Jerry Thacker, superintendent of Penn-Harris-Madison schools.

But everyone can do more.

"We need to be proactive," said Thacker, "That's one of the reasons we are doing this."

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Penn High School hosted a 7-hour-long training session. Police, firefighters, guidance counselors, school administrators and safety experts throughout the state and outside Indiana gathered at Penn to get a better understanding of their roles in stopping an attack from happening.

Experts from the Secret Service and the U.S Department of Education told the group of 200 people to be on the lookout for certain behaviors, but there's one step that trumps everything.

"We encourage people to listen," said Dr. Jason Winkle, a dean at Indiana State University and keynote speaker for the afternoon session.

Winkle believes when teens are comfortable with someone they trust, they are more likely to share what they know.

The Department of Education looked at 37 cases of school violence from the mid 70s to 2000. They found that students stay in the know:

- In 81% of the incidents at least one other person knew about the attacker's plan.

- In 59% of the incidents more than one person knew about the attacker's plan.

- In 93% of the incidents the person who knew the attacker's plan was a friend, schoolmate or sibling

Winkle said parents have a role too.

"I know we're all caught up in crazy schedules, but take in a moment just to ask them how their day was, just to show you care and listen," said Winkle. "Kids need the reinforcement, and what you'll find, they're pretty willing to come forward and share things with you."

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