School Violence - Collected Resources
Mary Binderman, MLS
On The American Occupational Therapy Foundation Website (www.aotf.org)>
previous occasions, I considered the issue of School Shootings as a topic
for the Resource Note. There is no denying it is a societal crisis, one I
thought was confined to middle or high school grades and to the United
belief was proven wrong by:
the multiple shootings at a Law School in Grundy, Virginia and
2. the more
recent shootings in a high school in Germany.
Another nudge to consider
this topic in a Resource Note was a piece in 60 Minutes II televised on
May 15, that looked at the study done by the US Secret Service and the
Department of Education begun after the Columbine High School shootings in
April 1999. A press release about the study and the coming report is at
http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/05-2002/05152002a.html. Here is a list
of the key findings:
• More than half of the
attackers had revenge as a motive and almost three-quarters were known to
hold a grievance prior to the attack.
• Most attackers had
previously used guns and had access to them. Two-thirds got the guns used
in attacks from their own home or that of a relative.
• Despite prompt law
enforcement response, most shooting incidents were resolved before law
enforcement authorities arrived on the scene. Other students or faculty
stepped in, or the student stopped shooting or committed suicide.
• In almost half the
cases, the attacker was influenced or encouraged by others. In most cases,
the attacker acted alone.
• There is no accurate or
useful "profile" of those who engaged in school-based attacks. Student
attackers come from various ethnic and racial backgrounds; a range of
family situations; and have varying academic performance. Some were
socially isolated, some popular; some had behavior problems, some had none
that were evident; and few had any diagnosed mental disorder.
Another critical finding in
this study is that before more than three-quarters of the shooting
incidents, the shooters had told others what they wished they could do or
their actual plans. The final report is titled The Final Report and
Findings of the Safe School Initiative: Implications for the Prevention of
School Attacks in the United States. From this report, a guide will be
created, Threat Assessment in Schools: A Guide to Managing Threatening
Situations and Creating Safe School Climates that will be sent to schools
and law-enforcement agencies as well as used in training seminars around
the country. Go to
http://www.threatassessmentseminars.org for information on the
And finally, I understand
that a growing number of occupational therapy practitioners are working in
the school system. They need to have an understanding of the problem and
find ways to contribute to its solution. Two ideas that I took away from
the 60 Minutes II program are that many of the
killers had just experienced a personal defeat, either in a relationship
or in an academic subject and hey had previous behavior problems.
As shown in the references below, Occupational therapy
practitioners Have experience working with teens and children with
emotional problems, as well as developmental or physiological.
Agrin, A.R. (1987).
Occupational Therapy with Emotionally Disturbed Children in a Public
Elementary School. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 7(2), 105-114.
ABSTRACT: This article
describes a model of delivering occupational therapy services to a class
of emotionally disturbed children in a public elementary school. It was
determined that many of the children were placed in a special class
because of inappropriate social skills. A weekly occupational therapy
program was developed to address the childrenˇ¦s lack of age-appropriate
social skills. A task-oriented group was chosen as the format, with
activities selected based upon the level of the children's group
interaction skills. The children exhibited an improvement in their social
skills over the course of the school year.
Braswell, L. (1993).
Cognitive-Behavioral Groups for Children Manifesting ADHD and Other
Disruptive Behavior Disorders. Special Services in the Schools, 8(1),
ABSTRACT: A model for
school-based cognitive-behavioral groups for children manifesting symptoms
of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and/or other disruptive
behavior disorders is presented. Key aspects of organizational readiness
to conduct this type of program are discussed, particularly the importance
of having the support of the children's classroom teachers. The child
group format and content, including recommended behavioral contingencies,
are described. A brief review of the outcome literature concludes there is
currently more justification for using this type of intervention with
children manifesting disruptive behavior disorders other than ADHD or in
addition to ADHD, and topics for future research are discussed.
Ebb, E.W., Coster, W. &
Duncombe, L. (1989). Comparison of normal and psychosocially dysfunctional
male adolescents. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 9(2), 53-74.
ABSTRACT: The purpose of this
study was to examine whether variables defined as critical by the model of
human occupation (Kielhofner & Burke, 1980, 1985), could discriminate
normal (n=18), and psychosocially dysfunctional (n=15), groups of male
adolescents. Discriminant analysis was used to evaluate several variables
simultaneously in order to determine group membership. Measures used were
the following: Locus of Control Scale for Children (Nowicki & Strickland,
1973), Occupational Questionnaire (Riopel, 1981), Role Checklist (Oakley,
1982), Modification of Matsutsuyu's Interest Checklist (1969) and the
Adapted Adolescent Functional Performance Evaluation. Results showed that
the model variables did successfully differentiate between the normal and
psychosocially dysfunctional groups. Further data analysis indicated that
the number of current and future roles as well as the number of strong
interests proved to be the most valuable variables in this discrimination.
Future research is suggested to improve the validity of the instruments
used in this study.
Hahn, C. (2000). Building
mental health roles into school system practice. OT Practice, 5(21),
ABSTRACT: School-based OTs
are well known for providing sensory, fine, and gross motor interventions.
But Cindy Hahn explains how she recognized a need and expanded OT services
to include psychosocial intervention for students, and training for other
Haner, S.L. (1996 Oct). The
Role of unconditional positive regard in the development of adolescent
self-concept and identity status. The Journal of Occupational Therapy
ABSTRACT: Because adolescence
is the development period during which personal identity status is shaped
and achieved, the literature was reviewed to determine what role
unconditional positive regard (acceptance and respect regardless of the
circumstances) might play in the development of personal identity status.
The review indicates that a positive self-concept may be facilitated by
unconditional positive regard from significant others. Positive parental
attitudes and communication techniques may encourage self-confidence and
an active, positive response to new and challenging situations
Henry A.D., & Coster W.J.
(1997). Competency beliefs and occupational role behavior among
adolescents: explication of the personal causation construct. American
Journal of Occupational Therapy, 51(4), 267-76.
ABSTRACT: According to the
Model of Human Occupation (MHO), beliefs regarding competency can
influence whether a person's occupational role behavior is adaptive or
maladaptive. Such beliefs are considered to be part of a person's sense of
"personal causation." This article reviews some of the theoretical
underpinnings of the personal causation construct. Issues addressed are
the distinction between competency beliefs and locus of control (another
aspect of personal causation according to the MOHO); the domain-specific
nature of competency beliefs; and, in particular, the evidence for a
relationship between competency beliefs and actual behavior. The article
focuses on competency beliefs and their relationship to three domains of
occupational behavior that have relevance for adolescents: academic
ability, social competence, and physical competence. Implications for
clinical practice with adolescents with psychiatric disorders are
Lancaster, J. & Mitchell, M.
(1991). Occupational therapy treatment goals, objectives, and activities
for improving low self-esteem in adolescents with behavioral disorders.
Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 11(2/3), 3-22.
ABSTRACT: This paper examines the concept of self-esteem: its definitions
and the association between low self-esteem and adolescents with
behavioral disorders. It also provides goals and objectives for OT
intervention based upon the taxonomy in the affective domain (Krathwohl,
Bloom, & Masia, 1964) and suggests activities integrated into the model of
human occupation (Kielhofner, 1985). Finally, a scheme organizing goals,
objectives, and activities is offered to occupational therapists, which
can be used in the treatment planning process.
Schultz, S. (1992).
School-based occupational therapy for students with behavioral disorders.
Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 8(2/3), 173-196.
occupational therapists are employed in large numbers by public schools,
their services are limited to students whose handicapping conditions are
primarily physiological. Students with behavioral disorders are rarely
referred to occupational therapy. This article synthesizes education,
psychology and occupational therapy literature to identify the essential
constructs of a holistic intervention for the student with a behavioral
disorder. A model program based on the concept of occupational activity
Snyder, C., Clark, F.,
Masunaka-Noriega, M. & Young, B. (1998). Los Angeles Street Kids: New
Occupations for Life Program. Journal of Occupational Science, 5(3),
ABSTRACT: In the same sense
that health intervention focused on the daily occupations of the
well-elderly can promote successful aging, programs aimed at the daily
occupations of at-risk youth may act as a potential deterrent to street
gang activity. In the city of Los Angeles, thousands of young people come
under the influence of gang culture and in turn lead lifestyles
destructive to themselves and society. This paper begins with a few
statistics that paint a grim picture of the existence of street gang
members and the impact of street gang involvement. Following, there is a
story of one youth's path from immigration to the United States to his
involvement with a street gang, which eventually led to his participation
in the New Occupations for Life Program. This pilot program, developed by
the University of Southern California Department of Occupational Science
and Occupational Therapy, targeted the harmful occupations for
100 Hispanic and African-American teenagers at risk for gang involvement.
The program provided a safe context for disestablishing gang allegiances,
building community, and exploring socially acceptable, productive
occupations. In this liminal space, these at-risk youth were given the
opportunity to experience other "modes of being" within the context of
meaningful and enjoyable occupations. Clark and her colleagues offer their
interpretation of this transformative process and share their optimism
about the power of occupation to change the lives of at-risk youth.
Organizations and on-line
Center for the Prevention of School
Stopping School Violence
Violence Prevention on the pages of the Center for Mental Health Services
School Violence Resource Center
Clearinghouse on Counseling and Student Services (ERIC/CASS)
Following are five references
on assessing or predicting the risk of violence. The author of the first
two is my favorite clinical psychologist. (Yes, he is my husband.)
Binderman, R.M. (2001).
Understanding VRAG: The violence risk assessment guide. Forensic Examiner,
Abstract: Shows the Violence
Risk Assessment Guide (VRAG) to be an empirically validated instrument
that allows forensic psychologists to base their violence risk assessments
on actuarial data. The author provides a description of the VRAG, which
includes its development, structure and accuracy. The VRAG, developed from
a study of 618 inpatient offenders being assessed or treated for mental
illness, uses 12 risk factors, or predictor variables. Among these risk
factors are the score on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, a DSM-III
(or DSM-IV) diagnosis of Personality Disorder, a younger age at the time
of the instant offense, and a history of being separated from his or her
parents before the age of 16. The article states that higher scores on the
VRAG are directly correlated with higher rates of violent recidivism, as
well as with greater severity of the violence committed. The author also
explores the VRAG's suitability for evaluation of various types of
individuals, and discusses recommendations for its appropriate use,
including opposing views.
Binderman, R. Mark. (1995).
Identifying violence risk factors. In: VandeCreek, L. & Knapp, S. (Eds.)
Innovations in clinical practice: A source book, volume 14. Sarasota, FL:
Professional Resource Press/Professional Resource Exchange, Inc. (pp.
Abstract: The book describs]
a checklist of risk factors [compiled by the author] to identify violence
potential in clinical practice (from the chapter) this checklist of risk
factors [is] derived from the professional literature and from the
opinions of recognized authorities on violence assessment / [the]
checklist does not constitute a formal "method" or "system" for violence
assessment, and it is not an instrument capable of calibrating the risk of
violence / the goal of this checklist is to clarify which risk factors to
look for in an assessment, based on research and theory history of past
violent behavior / exposure to violence in childhood / demographics /
substance abuse / mental disorder / schizophrenia / delusions /
"threat/control-override symptoms" / psychopathy / attachment-type
personality disorders: borderline, histrionic, antisocial, narcissistic,
and paranoid / anger, impulsivity, and hostility / cognitive impairment /
situational stress / potential victims available / presence of weapons /
inadequate structure in the environment
Borum, R. (2000). Assessing
violence risk among youth. Journal of Clinical Psycholpgy, 56(10),1263-88.
ABSTRACT: Despite recent
declines in the reported rate of juvenile violence, there appears to be
increasing public and professional concern about violent behavior among
children and adolescents. Media accounts of school shootings and juvenile
homicides have prompted a need to develop approaches for systematically
assessing violence risk. This article describes the task of assessing
general violence risk among youth, and argues that a somewhat different
approach is required to assess cases where an identified or identifiable
young person may pose a risk to a specifically identified or identifiable
target (also referred to as "targeted violence"). Key risk factors for
violent behavior among children and adolescents are identified,
fundamental principles for conducting an assessment of violence potential
in clinical and juvenile justice contexts are outlined, and an approach to
assessment when an identified person engages in some communication or
behavior of concern that brings him or her to official attention is
Ellickson P.L,. & McGuigan
K.A. (2000). Early predictors of adolescent violence. American Journal of
Public Health, 90(4):566-72.
OBJECTIVES: This study sought
to identify early predictors of adolescent violence and to assess whether
they vary by sex and across different types and levels of violence.
METHODS: Data from a 5-year longitudinal self-report survey of more than
4300 high school seniors and dropouts from California and Oregon were used
to regress measures of relational, predatory, and overall violence on
predictors measured 5 years earlier. RESULTS: Deviant behavior in grade 7,
poor grades, and weak bonds with middle school predicted violent behavior
5 years later. Attending a middle school with comparatively high levels of
cigarette and marijuana use was also linked with subsequent violence.
Early drug use and peer drug use predicted increased levels of predatory
violence but not its simple occurrence. Girls with low self-esteem during
early adolescence were more likely to hit others later on; boys who
attended multiple elementary schools were also more likely to engage in
prevention programs for younger adolescents should include efforts to
prevent or reduce troublesome behavior in school and poor academic
performance. Adolescent girls may also profit from efforts to raise
self-esteem; adolescent boys may need extra training in resisting
influences that encourage deviant behavior. Programs aimed at preventing
drug use may yield an added violence-reduction bonus.
Hastings T.L. & Kelley M.L.
(1997). Development and validation of the Screen for Adolescent Violence
Exposure (SAVE). Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 25(6), 511-20.
ABSTRACT: Empirical evidence
was provided on the utility of the Screen for Adolescent Violence Exposure
(SAVE) in assessing adolescent exposure to school, home, and community
violence. The SAVE was empirically developed on 1,250 inner-city
adolescents, and obtained excellent reliability and validity. Both
exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses identified
three factors: (1) Traumatic Violence, (2) Indirect
Violence, and (3) Physical/Verbal Abuse. The SAVE demonstrated
utility in classifying high- and low-violence participants, and correlated
significantly with both objective crime data and theoretically relevant
constructs (anger, posttraumatic stress symptoms, and
internalizing/externalizing problems). Thus, the SAVE provides measurement
of the stress or criterion associated with posttraumatic stress disorder,
and allows quantification of severity of violence exposure by setting.
The occupational therapy
articles were extracted from other Resource Notes, and I remind you that
there is one on Youth
Violence that is available on the Foundationˇ¦s web site.
Compiled by Mary Binderman,
Director Of Information Resources
American Occupational Therapy Foundation, Bethesda, MD
May 17, 2002