Ann Coulter Is Right: Schools Are a Hotbed of Violence and Crime
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
In her bestselling and controversial book, Ann Coulter examines the abysmally poor US public education system. One of the elements of the overall failure of public schools is the fear on the part of students that their fellow classmates may injure or even kill them.
An unprecedented level of national concern about crime has ensued following incidents of high-profile violent crimes perpetrated by and against youth. As evidenced by several fatal school shootings in rural and suburban communities across the United States, school violence is not just an isolated problem occurring in destitute, inner-city neighborhoods. Rather, violence by and against youth is affecting nearly all young people across the country and its impact on youth and their communities is devastating and longlasting.
Sadly, many school administrators do more to hide their violence and crime problems than they do to protect their students. For instance, in New York City, there existed strong evidence that up to 1/3 of the public school system’s crimes were not reported by administrators and principals.
In addition to the demand for solid, structured violence prevention, there is an equal need for services to support students who are witnessing, experiencing, and otherwise being affected by violence. Teachers, school administrators, and others who work with youth have observed a vicious cycle: Young people who have been victimized often end up engaged in violence again, both as perpetrators and victims.
Research has validated these observations and demonstrated that childhood victimization significantly increases the likelihood of future criminal behavior. Furthermore, victims and witnesses of violence experience a wide range of emotions, including helplessness, vulnerability, fear, anger, and self-blame. Young people may not understand the range of emotions they are experiencing or may lack the words to express them and, therefore, will often â€œact outâ€ the experience. The victim may, in turn, victimize someone else and thus act out the cycle of violence in the process.
Between 65 and 70 percent mentioned reasons that include raising awareness about the impact of violence and victimization, providing a safe space within the school, changing studentsâ€™ violent behaviors, and enhancing existing services by adding Safe Harbor components.
More than 80 percent of personnel were aware of the following behaviors in their school: threatening, insulting/name calling, hitting, and shoving. Between 53 and 70 percent were aware of acts of intimidation, slapping, and uninvited sexual advances. Thirty-five percent were aware of incidents of choking others and carrying weapons.
Children suffer serious and long-term consequences from experiencing violence: children who are victims of, or witnesses to, violence are at an increased risk for development of behavioral, psychological, and physical problems. They are also more likely to engage in alcohol and drug use, delinquent acts, and later adult criminality.
Furthermore, these children are often at risk of repeating the violence they have experienced, thus perpetuating a cycle of violence that can continue throughout future generations. Adults must stop this cycle of abuse now and take concrete action to prevent it from occurring in the future.
Beyond providing an important set of goals and actions, the continuum of prevention, intervention, and accountability demands thinking across disciplines and considering the ways in which each profession has an obligation to participate at every stage in the process.
Child protection workers, for example, have important roles not only in intervening once violence has occurred but in working with families to prevent further violence, in being available to the community to teach about prevention, and in collaborating with law enforcement to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions.
Law enforcement personnel also have important roles to play in prevention and intervention. They should become educated about and sensitized to the dynamics of violence within families, with the goals of preventing violence before it occurs, identifying violence when it has occurred, and creating procedures for deposing and examining witnesses that encourage participation in the legal process without further trauma. The continuum of prevention, intervention, and accountability can stimulate professional and community collaboration that is crucial for addressing childrenâ€™s exposure to violence
Within law enforcement, district attorneys and police commanders should designate specialists or create special units in police departments and prosecutorsâ€™ offices to handle child victims and witnesses (and/or make use of child interview specialists from another discipline). They should also maintain reasonable caseloads for prosecuting attorneys.
A national survey of prosecutors found that of all cases, violence against children and adult sexual assault require the most time and resources.
Providing training to prosecutors, judges, and police officers in forensic interviewing, child development, identification of abuse-related injuries, the emotional and psychological impact of abuse, and legal issues related to child victims and witnesses is of paramount importance.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri’s own website is located at http://jimkouri.us
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.