Tuesday, October 23, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 44


HISD acts in preventing violence

Shazia Siddiqi

We should be proud of our city and what it has become in the past month. We are not only realizing that the best way to promote safety is to promote prevention, but we are acting upon this thought as well. This can be seen through the remarkable steps HISD is taking to prevent school violence.

As Salatheia Bryant stated in Sunday's Houston Chronicle, Houston Independent School District officials recently initiated a new zero-tolerance campaign with the aim of
ending bullying, teasing, name-calling and threats toward students. "The program is designed to change the attitude of students through activities that teach tolerance," the
article states.

After incidents such as the April 1999 Columbine High School shootings, research has suggested that sometimes students who are ridiculed and physically harassed by
other students are likely to engage in acts of violence.

This is enough initiative to start a program that prevents harassment, but I find it just as important to initiate this program for the reason of saving the students who are
constantly tormented by their classmates without having the courage to report it to school officials. The number of students affected by this is far greater than the few who
actually react to the abuse.

As for the students who do react in a violent way, it is important to realize what the root cause of the problem is. Where do they get such ideas in the first place? It is just
as important to take an initiative to stop violence, ignorance and hatred at home as it is to eliminate it in school.

For example, studies show that the more violence children are exposed to on television, the more that violence seems to become acceptable behavior. Unfortunately,
violence in some form is a common element of many TV shows because of its strong emotional impact.

It is important to point out to children that the violence they see in news, cartoons, movies and documentaries is not an acceptable solution to solving problems. In
addition, by asking them to think whether the participants in the shows could have found a better, nonviolent solution to the problem, we would also be encouraging them
to develop their critical thinking.

Although television can be a wonderful resource in bringing to children people and places they will otherwise never see, and also enriching their vocabularies and
introducing complex ideas, it can also present a type of morality that we may find unacceptable. It can be a model of aggression and violence and take time away from
activities like reading and playing sports.

Only when children understand both the benefits and limitations of television are they able to use it to their advantage without fear or harm. This understanding is not
limited to television alone, but anything that exposes children to violence.

Taking such universal precautions, we may have a better chance to eliminate school violence once and for all.

Siddiqi, a sophomore psychology 
major, can be reached at shazihuma@hotmail.com.

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