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The Colorado Shootings
This web site provides one perspective on the recent shootings in Littleton, Colorado, an opportunity to share your views and engage in discussion via a , and links to other web sites about this topic.
One Youthworker's View of the Events
My condolences and sincere sympathy to the residents of Littleton, Colorado - to the parents, family members and friends of those killed and injured and to all those who experienced the tragedy and may live with its aftermath for a long time.
Like most people I have followed the events in the media and have talked to many people about them. While I have heard concern about how we can help the people directly affected by this tragedy and how can we prevent future occurrences, I have heard more comments which I consider destructive to healing and prevention goals.
Some of the trends which concern me are:
- Blaming, whether of families, youth, schools, society, or the media and entertainment (specifically Marilyn Manson).
- Assigning one single "cause" to the occurrence, whether lack of discipline in the home, lack of prayer in the schools, lack of security in the schools, violence in the media, general moral decline or lack of consequences in the juvenile justice system.
- A "one size fits all" approach to preventing future occurrences. The belief that if we could "fix" any single cause of the problem or "fix" any of the people or institutions we blame, the problem would go away.
As youthworkers, I believe that we are in a unique position to offer some prevention approaches based on what we already know and do. We know the youth who are alienated and isolated, a favorite media phrase, and we have expertise in engaging and building relationships with them. We also have realistic expectations. I think of a young man who became an active and articulate advocate for youth issues while involved in a youthwork program. He had a history of violent and antisocial behavior which some would say precluded any success in life, yet for a few years he was successful. As he aged out of the program and lost the supports, he again became involved in destructive activities and was arrested for a violent crime. Was this a failure? I would say it was a failure that the system did not continue to provide the supports he needed but a success in that he was not involved in crime and violence for two to three years.
What can youthworkers offer to the prevention of violent acts?
- Knowledge and experience in forming relationships with the most isolated and alienated youth
- Knowledge and experience in providing realistic options and alternatives for youth
- Knowledge and experience in helping youth find solutions to their problems
- A willingness to not give up with even the most "difficult " youth
- Knowledge about how to connect with youth who are not involved with traditional programs
- Unique and creative programs and activities for youth who are not attracted to or involved with traditional activities and programs
I call upon youthworkers to insist on having their knowledge and expertise brought to the table. I have yet to hear a youthworker interviewed on national media about solutions to the problem. I hope this has happened and I just havenít heard about it.
What can youthworkers do?:
- Become active and involved in community forums, committees, and taskforces which concern youth
- Become politically active for youth issues
- Advocate for positive youth involvement in areas which affect their lives
- Help youth who are feeling vulnerable and victimized to take positive steps
- Address local, state, regional or federal policies which disempower youth
- Abandon turf issues. Work together with schools, law enforcement, mental health, substance abuse and other professionals to develop realistic and workable goals and strategies
Go to the
Links to Other Sites
A listing of news sites
Transcript of an online discussion with Dr. Pamela L. Riley, executive director of the Center for the Prevention of School Violence in Raleigh, N.C.
This site provides the kind of analysis needed to give worried parents and concerned policy makers the context by which to judge the safety of our institutions of learning
A good site to learn what Goth is all about
Based on the work of an independent panel of experts in the fields of education, law enforcement, and mental health
National Network For Youth responds to the
school shooting tragedy in Littleton, CO