Communication is key to prevention
A day after a massacre left at least 15 people dead in Littleton, CO, behavior experts once again resorted to The List—the litany of red flags that can signal teen violence.
“Unless we turn schools into airports and prisons with monitors, we can’t help but leave ourselves open to risk,” says Melbourne psychologist, Dr. Vicki Panaccione. “But the risk to kids with drastic measures (imposed) could be worse than (the threat of) an isolated incident.”
As in the aftermath of recent student shootings, experts recited the warning signs for identifying teens with potential explosive problems, including change in attire.
But taking note of cosmetic changes in teens isn’t nearly as important as parents and teachers nurturing open communication, Panaccione said. Trouble usually seeps into the ruptures of broken dialogue.
“There’s a perception that this Littleton incident might heighten feelings of insecurity,” she said. “But I think the fear is already there. A lot of kids I talk to say they don’t feel safe in school, particularly junior high.”
As published in Florida Today, April 22, 1999