Things a parent can do:
- Recognize that keeping firearms in your home may put you at legal risk as well as expose you and your family to physical risk. In many states, parents can be held liable for their children’s actions, including inappropriate use of firearms. If you do choose to keep firearms at home, ensure that they are securely locked, that ammunition is locked and stored separately, and that children know weapons are never to be touched without your express permission and supervision.
- Take an active role in your children’s schools. Talk regularly with teachers and staff. Volunteer in the classroom or library, or in after-school activities. Work with parent-teacher-student organizations.
- Act as role models. Settle your own conflicts peaceably and manage anger without violence.
- Listen and talk with your children regularly. Find out what they are thinking on all kinds of topics. Create an opportunity for two-way communication, which may mean forgoing judgments and pronouncements. This kind of communication should be a daily habit, not a reaction to a crisis.
- Set clear limits on behaviors in advance. Discuss punishments and rewards in advance, too. Disciplining with framework and consistency helps teach self-discipline, a skill your children can use for the rest of their lives.
- Communicate clearly on the violence issue. Explain that you don’t accept and won’t tolerate violent behavior. Discuss what violence is and is not. Answer questions thoughtfully. Listen to children’s ideas and concerns. They may bring up small problems that can easily be solved now, problems that could become worse if allowed to fester.
- Help your children learn how to examine and find solutions to problems. Kids who know how to approach a problem and resolve it effectively are less likely to be angry, frustrated, or violent. Take advantage of “teachable moments” to help your child understand and apply these and other skills.
- Discourage name-calling and teasing. These behaviors often escalate into fistfights (or worse). Whether the teaser is violent or not, the victim may see violence as the only way to stop it.
- Insist on knowing your children’s friends, whereabouts, and activities. It is your right. Make your home an inviting and pleasant place for your children and their friends; it’s easier to know what they are up to when they are around. Know how to spot signs of troubling behavior in kids - yours and others.
- Work with other parents to develop standards for school-related events, acceptable out-of-school activities and places, and required adult supervision. Support each other in enforcing these standards.
- Make it clear you support school policies and rules that help create and sustain a safe place for all students to learn. If your child feels a rule is wrong, discuss his or her reasons and what rule might work better.
- Join up with other parents, through school and neighborhood associations, religious organizations, civic groups, and youth activity groups. Talk with each other about violence problems, concerns about youth in the community, sources of help to strengthen and sharpen parenting skills, and similar issues.
National Crime Prevention Council
1000 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036