WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., Feb. 4 (UPI) -- A U.S. advocate for safe and secure schools says there is no foolproof system for identifying potentially dangerous students, but there can be warning signs.
Ronald D. Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center, said the center tracked U.S. school-associated violent deaths from 1992 to the present and identified common behaviors that could indicate a youth's potential for harming him/herself or others.
Characteristics identified by the National School Safety Center include:
-- A history of tantrums and uncontrollable angry outbursts.
-- Resorts to name calling, cursing or abusive language.
-- Habitually makes violent threats when angry.
-- Previously brought a weapon to school.
-- A background of serious disciplinary problems at school and in the community.
-- A background of drug, alcohol or other substance abuse or dependency.
-- Being on the fringe of his/her peer group with few or no close friends.
-- Being preoccupied with weapons, explosives or other incendiary devices.
-- Previously been truant, suspended or expelled from school.
-- Displays cruelty to animals.
-- Little or no supervision and support from parents or a caring adult.
-- Witnesses or been a victim of abuse or neglect in the home.
-- Bullied and/or bullies or intimidates peers or younger children.
-- Tends to blame others for difficulties and problems s/he causes her/himself.
-- Prefers TV shows, movies or music expressing violent themes and acts
-- Reads materials dealing with violent themes, rituals and abuse.
-- Reflects anger, frustration and the dark side of life in school essays or writing projects.
-- Involved with a gang or an anti-social group on the fringe of peer acceptance.
-- Often depressed and/or has significant mood swings.
-- Threatens or attempts suicide.
These characteristics should serve to alert school administrators, teachers and support staff to address needs of troubled students through meetings with parents, provision of school counseling, guidance and mentoring services, as well as referrals to appropriate community health/social services and law enforcement personnel, the center said.