Postprint version. Published in Educational Review, Volume 52, Issue 1, February 1, 2000, pages 65-74. The definitive version can be found at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00131910097423.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author George Petersen was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
The public school system in the United States has always presented itself as representing the hallmarks of vital socialization, equality in education, hope for the future and sense of community. This picture has changed drastically in the past 20 years. Chaos seems to be replacing community. This fact is only too apparent when we read recent accounts of the tragedies that have unfolded in the past 3 years in Pearl, Mississippi, West Paducah, Kentucky, Jonesboro, Arkansas, Springfield, Oregon or Littleton, Colorado. As a result of the deteriorating social environment and a significant growing fiscal crisis faced by our nation’s schools,children are encountering substantial hurdles on their journey toward responsible adulthood. Two current trends, which are negatively affecting students’ educational experience and quality of life are violence and suicide. Juvenile violence and suicide are becoming increasingly commonplace across the United States. In 1994, an average of one young person aged 24 and younger killed themselves every 1 hour and 39.6 minutes. The number of incidents of violence and the severity of these acts have also dramatically increased over the past 5 to7 years. This article addresses the causes and strategies for prevention of school violence and adolescent suicide and delineates a holistic integrated prevention model.