North Carolina Youth Violence Task Force Issues Report
By Tiffany Danitz, Staff Writer
A school safety task force has given North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt a "road map" for dealing with school violence and improving school safety.
In a thick report released on Wednesday, it urged every North Carolinian to become involved in deterring school violence. The task force also announced a future toll-free tip line for reporting threats of violence.
As soon as the hotline's 800 number is assigned, North Carolina will be blanketed with more than one million brochures that explain what "early warning signs" families and teachers can look for in at-risk youth, according to task force spokesman Robert Carver.
Stung by the massacre that left 15 dead at Littleton, Colorado's Columbine High School last April, Gov. Hunt galvanized a search for preventative measures by instituting the "Task Force on Youth Violence and School Safety."
The 51-member task force, led by Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety, Richard H. Moore, Attorney General Mike Easley and Superintendent Mike Ward, canvassed the state over the last five weeks, holding public meetings to learn about the public's concerns as well as about successful antiviolence programs.
Students, state lawmakers, policy mavens, businesspeople, teachers, administrators, law enforcement officers, sociologists and many more made up the task force. This helped press home the most significant point the task force makes in its report: the solution must involve students, parents, teachers, administrators and the entire community.
The governor wants everybody from school boards to neighbors to get involved and work on this, Carver said. "He is very much encouraging people to take the ball and run with it, the government can't do everything. We have come up with some solid recommendations and are being proactive, but people have to get involved," Carver said.
The tip line and brochures are two of ten "action items" that the task force recommends. It said other ways to immediately address school violence include:
- Asking the State Board of Education to study safe school plans.
- Sending a final report with ideas for action to every school superintendent in the state.
- Asking principals to hold meetings at their schools with law enforcement, community leaders, parents and students to discuss their safe school plans.
- Sending reports for action to each local board of education.
- Asking the PTA and PTO to get involved by holding discussions to explore ways to make each school safer beginning this autumn.
- Holding local student summits about school safety and once a year, a statewide summit.
- Keeping School Resource Officers and other law enforcement personnel in the loop.
- Asking the Center for the Prevention of School Violence to set up a conflict management project - resulting in all pre-service teachers and all administrators being trained to better manage conflict.
This isn't the first time Gov. Hunt has set up a task force on this issue. In 1993, the Task Force on School Violence was charged with finding solutions to the problem. After their recommendations were instituted the rate of reported incidents of school violence has declined 19 percent and the number of guns brought to schools has decreased by 65 percent, according to the recent report.
"The governor is very clear," Carver said,"he doesn't want this to sit on the shelf and gather dust."
The full report can be viewed or downloaded from: http://www.nccrimecontrol.org/taskforce/finalreport.html