Parent's Resource Center

Watch for Signs... Take Action

See also:

The Department of Education and the Department of Justice have also produced an early warning guide for spotting trouble in schools

Know signs that kids are troubled and know how to get them help. Look for such signs as:
  • Lack of interest in school
  • Absence of age-appropriate anger control skills
  • Seeing self as always the victim
  • Persistent disregard for or refusal to follow rules
  • Cruelty to pets or other animals
  • Artwork or writing that is bleak or violent or that depicts isolation or anger
  • Talking constantly about weapons or violence
  • Obsessions with things like violent games and TV shows
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Bringing a weapon (any weapon) to school
  • History of bullying
  • Misplaced or unwarranted jealousy
  • Involvement with or interest in gangs
  • Self-isolation from family and friends
  • Talking about bringing weapons to school

The more of these signs you see, the greater the chance that the child needs help. If it's your child and he or she won't discuss these signs with you, see if a relative, a teacher, a counselor, a religious leader, a coach, or another adult can break the ice.

Get help right away. Talk with a counselor, mental health clinic, family doctor, psychologist, religious leader, the school's dean of students, or the office of student assistance. The faster you find help, the more likely the problem can be resolved.

Not your child? Recognizing these signs in any child should set off alarm bells for any community member. If you know a child well enough to notice these changes, constructively express concern to the parent(s), who may already be taking action and would welcome your support. If parents appear disinterested, speak to the child's teacher or counselor.


Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
230 North 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
215-567-0394 (fax)

Boys & Girls Clubs of America
1230 West Peachtree Street, NW
Atlanta, GA 30309
404-815-5789 (fax)

Bureau of Justice Assistance Clearinghouse
PO Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000

Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence
Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado
Campus Box 442, Building #10
Boulder, CO 80309-0442
303-443-3297 (fax)

Educational Resources Information Clearinghouse
National Library of Education
U.S. Department of Education
600 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 2002-0498

Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse
PO Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000

National Association of Police Athletic Leagues
618 North US Highway 1, Suite 201
North Palm Beach, FL 33408
561-863-6120 (fax)

National Center for Conflict Resolution Education
Illinois Institute for Dispute Resolution
110 West Main Street
Urbana, IL 61801
217-384-8280 (fax)

National Clearinghouse on Alcohol and Drug Information
PO Box 2345
Rockville, MD 20852

National Crime Prevention Council
1000 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 13th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
202-296-1356 (fax) or

National Injury Control and Prevention Center
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30333
404-639-1623 (fax)

National Institute for Dispute Resolution
1726 M Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 10036
202-466-4769 (fax)

National PTA
330 North Wabash Avenue, Suite 2100
Chicago, IL 60611

National School Safety Center
4165 Thousand Oaks Blvd, Ste 290
Westlake Village, CA 91362
805-373-9277 (fax)

National Sheriffs' Association
1450 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-3490

National Youth Gang Information Center
Institute for Intergovernmental Research
PO Box 12729
Tallahassee, FL 33217
850-386-5356 (fax)

Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
U.S. Department of Education
Portals Building, 600 Independence Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20202-6123
202-260-7767 (fax)

Street Law, Inc.
918 16th Street, NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20006-2902
202-293-0089 (fax)

Teens, Crime, and the Community
1000 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 13th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
202-466-6272, x152 or 161
202-296-1356 (fax)

Youth Crime Watch of America
9300 South Dadeland Blvd, Ste 100
Miami, FL 33156
305-670-3805 (fax)

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services


This list highlights just a few of the more recent documents that offer ideas about programs and strategies that can help reduce or prevent violence in schools, as well as information on the problem. They in turn offer referrals to still more sources of information and ideas. Many of the organizations listed above will send free catalogs listing all their publications.

  • Arnette, June and Marjorie C. Walsleben. Combating Fear and Restoring Safety in Schools. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. April 1998. (NCJ 167888).
  • Drug Strategies, Inc. Safe Schools, Safe Students: A Guide to Violence Prevention Strategies. Washington, DC: Drug Strategies, Inc. 1998.
  • Heaviside, Sheila, Cassandra Rowand, Catrina Williams, and Elizabeth Farris. Violence and Discipline Problems in U.S. Public Schools: 1996-1997. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. March 1998. (NCES 98-030).
  • Kenney, Dennis J. and T. Steuart Watson. Crime in the Schools: Reducing Fear and Disorder with Student Problem Solving. Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum. 1998.
  • Lockwood, Daniel. Violence Among Middle School and High School Students: Analysis and Implications for Prevention. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. 1997. (NCJ 166363)
  • U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice. Creating Safe and Drug-Free Schools: An Action Guide. Washington, DC. 1996. Electronically available through or, or by calling 800-624-0100.
  • Zimmer, Judy, Terrence W. Modglin, and Jean F. O'Neil. Teens, Crime, and the Community: Education and Action for Safer Schools and Communities, Third Edition. Cincinnati, OH: West Educational Publishing (a Thomson International company). 1998.