Serial No. 105-97


Printed for the use of the Committee on Education

and the Workforce
















April 28, 1998


U.S. House of Representatives

Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families

Committee on Education and the Workforce

Washington, DC


The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:05 P.M., in Room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Frank Riggs [Chairman of the Subcommittee] presiding.

Present: Representatives Riggs, Greenwood, Peterson, Payne, Roemer, Scott, Kucinich, and McCarthy.

Staff present: Sally Lovejoy, Senior Education Policy Advisor; Lynn Selmser, Professional Staff; Rich Stombres, Legislative Assistant; Alex Nock, Minority Legislative Associate; Roxana Folescu, Minority Staff Assistant; Cheryl Johnson, Minority Legislative Associate, and June Harris, Minority Education Coordinator.

Chairman Riggs. [presiding] I'm calling the Subcommittee to order, and I want thank my colleagues for their attendance and participation and want to thank our audience for being here as well today. I'm sure I join with my colleagues in telling our witnesses that we very much look forward to their timely and, I'm sure, insightful testimony on the very important topic before the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families today, which is an endeavor to understand violent children, and to do that in light of the recent tragic episodes of youth violence that have taken place in and around schools in rural communities in the country.

I'm Frank Riggs, and I represent the first district of California and chair the Subcommittee. And before I became a Congressman, in my previous life, and I guess I could say in the real world, I worked as a police officer and deputy sheriff in California law enforcement for a number of years. And I want to tell you that I am personally, despite my professional background in law enforcement, amazed at the increasingly violent acts that our children commit. This was certainly not a part of my experience as a law enforcement officer. Those incidences when young people, particularly young people at such a tender age, were involved in violent crimes perpetrated on their peers were very, very rare. It seems to, however, have become more commonplace, and, therefore, as I look back on my experience in the late 1970's, early 1980's, in law enforcement, I really must shake my head at how much California and how much American society has changed in so little time.

This Subcommittee has been working now for a period of a year and a half about the entire length of this current session of Congress, the 105th meeting of Congress in our country's history, to enact legislation that would help prevent and reduce juvenile crime.

We've had an opportunity to hear from researchers, law enforcement officials, prosecutors, social workers, and individuals that operate prevention programs for young people at risk of engaging in deviant or delinquent behavior. We've heard from individuals around the country to operate successful prevention and intervention programs, and we've also heard from those, and there are many voices, both in and out of Congress, who advocate increased penalties for violent crimes perpetrated by young people, and so that our young people who are present here today know exactly what I'm talking about. They advocate trying more young people as adults under our criminal and juvenile justice system when they commit serious, oftentimes violent, felony crimes for which they could be incarcerated in prisons if they committed those same acts as adults. However, there hasn't been enough focus, in my opinion, on why children commit violent crimes.

And I want to say at the outset of our hearing today that we're really gathered here largely at the initiative of Congressman Jim Greenwood, my colleague from Pennsylvania who worked with me, and Congressman Bobby Scott from Virginia, in crafting a bipartisan juvenile crime control measure that is both tough on punishment and smart on prevention. And Bobby, who will be acting as the ranking Democrat today, just whispered on the side to me that I should also mention Congressman Marty—Matthew Martinez, my good friend who is the ranking Member of the Subcommittee who also played a very instrumental role in crafting that legislation.

In fact, it was when we were in southern California to conduct a field hearing on the legislation, in or near Congressman Martinez's district, that we heard juvenile probation and law enforcement officials talk about "kids in pajamas." And this was a kind of a term that they used to describe the phenomenon of the younger siblings who were present in the home, oftentimes dressed in their pajamas, as the older sibling was being taken into custody.

This official who told us about the "pajama kids" was talking about the necessity of going beyond merely taking into custody the young person charged with the crime to actually target the younger siblings in the household who, as a result in part of their sibling's behavior, were very much at risk of also becoming involved in delinquent or criminal activity and often at risk of becoming, if you will, the next generation of juvenile offenders.

We know this isn't an easy job. We know that successful juvenile crime control programs have to focus on education, job training, after-school activities as methods of preventing juvenile crime.

I'd like to believe that the legislation, the bipartisan legislation, that we crafted is both tough on punishment and smart on prevention. It focuses a lot on, as I've alluded, on early intervention.

But I'm also hopeful that today's witnesses can shine additional light on this topic. In particular, I hope that we will be able to hear from them if they know, or if there's a way to determine, the precursors of violent behavior stemming from factors that manifest themselves in individual families and in society as a whole.

As I mentioned, our legislation has passed the House of Representatives. Maybe I didn't mention that, but it did on an overwhelming basis, or overwhelmingly bipartisan basis, and is now pending in the United States Senate. And we might use the occasion of today's hearing to urge our colleagues in the Senate, or the other body, as we refer to them, to give this legislation the priority attention that it deserves.

Just a couple of other quick background facts before I recognize my colleagues, in particular, because I see that we have so many young people here today:

We know that the recent shootings were very young children, sometimes as young as ages 13 and 11, who have been charged with committing violent acts. There has been a fair amount of speculation in the media as to why these young people act in such a violent manner with seemingly little remorse, or even understanding, of the consequences of their actions.

According to the Uniformed Crime Reports, which are published by the FBI and the Department of Justice, in 1996 alone—I guess these are the most recent statistics that are available—there were a total of 102,231 arrests of children and youth under the age of 18, that is to say, under the age of adulthood, for violent crimes; 1,344 of these youth were under the age of 10. That just doesn't seem possible to me because I have a very precocious daughter who is 11 going on 21.


And 6,610 crimes were committed by young people ages 10 to 12.

Although adolescent years are often viewed as years of turmoil, especially for the parents—[Laughter.]—when youth are more prone to be engaged in delinquent acts, the commission of violent acts by younger children, younger and younger children, has caused a great deal of concern among the law enforcement community and others working with our young people.

In addition, there's growing alarm about the severity of the acts, the violent acts, in our Nation's schools, and concern has been expressed that children cannot learn, obviously, in an environment where they fear for their own safety.

According to a recent report by the National Center for Education Statistics entitled, "Violence and Discipline Problems in U.S. Public Schools 1996-1997," more than half of U.S. public schools reported experiencing at least one crime incident during the course of the school year. And 1 in 10 schools reported at least one serious violent crime during that school year. The executive summary of the report has been made available to the members of the committee and, obviously, is available to the public.

In order to effectively address the issue of violent behavior in young people, it's important to understand, as I said earlier, why youth are inclined to commit violent acts. Over the years, a number of factors have been advanced and linked to youth violence, including child abuse; failure to achieve a bonding or attachment with the parent or parents or another adult caretaker; the problem of absentee fathers, which is still too widespread in our society; access to firearms; media influences, and exposure to violence in the family or even in the local community. And again, we are hoping that our witnesses today will discuss these factors and successful interventions.

The last thing that I want to say in my opening comments is that I personally believe that, despite all the work that this committee has done on education and prevention initiatives, there is nothing more important than personal morality and the lessons that we teach our kids. And I'm afraid that too many of our young people are getting a message today from adult role models, or particularly those of us in positions of public responsibility. We're in the public eye and where I think we should be held up to a higher standard, and we should understand that we must conduct ourselves as moral exemplars, especially for our young people. And they're getting a message, I think, all too often that's a little bit confused.

And so I want to say today, unequivocally, to our young people attending and to the young people who might view these proceedings that, "The truth matters and character counts," despite what you may occasionally hear from Washington.

The problems that plague our Nation—the problems that plague our Nation arise, in my view, primarily from bad moral choices made by adults, whether it's illegitimacy or crime, drugs, divorce, drug abuse, child abuse and neglect, pornography, or abortion. It's the full litany, and in my personal view, the most pressing issue affecting child welfare—and again, I'll be interested to have our witnesses to respond to this point—is family breakdown.

So, I conclude by suggesting that we need to focus more on the spiritual state of our Nation—which is, after all, our real national product—and we can begin that task by making personal accountability as important as fiscal accountability in our country.

With that, I turn to my colleague, the ranking Member of —the acting, ranking Member of the Subcommittee today, Congressman Scott, for his opening comments.

Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I'm pleased to join you and other colleagues at this very important hearing. I know all of us are looking forward to the testimony from the expert panel of witnesses that are in attendance today.

Violent behavior by children in youth has always been a concern for educators, parents, and families. However, recent incidents in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and Kentucky, and now in Pennsylvania, have brought the extreme scrutiny to the causal factors of violent acts by children in youth. Regardless of whether the violent behavior involved guns, knives, or other weapons, or whether it happened during the school day, or—as in Edinboro—at a school function, all such acts leave many in society—and this Member included—confused and saddened.

Our research has shown that a history of family violence and abuse of drugs and alcohol can contribute to violent behavior. We need to know to what extent other factors also play a role, and most importantly, what we can do as legislators and concerned citizens to limit acts of violence.

Earlier, this Congress—as you mentioned, Mr. Chairman—the House, on a bipartisan basis, approved a juvenile justice bill which was the culmination of many hours of work between myself, Chairman Riggs, ranking Member Martinez, and Representative Greenwood. This bill centered heavily on prevention rather than punishment, reinforcing the family and community rather than tearing it apart.

Unfortunately, the House also passed another juvenile justice bill. That bill focused entirely on the punishment side of the delinquency equation.

Clearly, there are differences of opinion as to which focus to take in reducing violent behavior among our children. We already lock up more children and more adults than anywhere on earth. So obviously, the punishment side has gotten all that we can possibly get from a juvenile delinquency prevention basis, and we need to focus more on the prevention initiatives.

Mr. Chairman, I noticed from the witness list that this list of witnesses is uncharacteristic and a stark contrast to the witnesses we usually have on criminal justice issues because their background is from a scientific perspective, research based, and will provide us with some things we can actually do to reduce crime, rather than the presentations that we usually get which are basically an emotional appeal to help us get elected.

So I'm looking forward to some constructive testimony from the witnesses, and I want to congratulate you on your selection of witnesses and look forward to their testimony today. Thank you.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Congressman Scott, and I just want to, again, say for the record that our legislation, H.R. 1818, would not have moved through the House with such overwhelmingly bipartisan support without the hard work of Congressman Scott. He was absolutely key to drafting that legislation.

I next turn to Congressman Greenwood, but before I recognize him for his opening remarks, I want to sort of make a—if you will—a housekeeping statement, or administrative statement.

At the conclusion of Members' opening statements, I'm going to ask Congressman Greenwood to take the Chair and conduct the rest of today's Subcommittee hearing. I intend to stay. I'm very much looking forward to the testimony of our witnesses, but I think it's more appropriate, since we wouldn't be convened today without Jim's leadership on this particular issue, that he chair the remainder of the Subcommittee hearing. Congressman Greenwood.

Mr. Greenwood. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for that courtesy. It's very much appreciated.

There has been juvenile crime forever. There have been acts of violence perpetrated by young people. There have been seriously mentally ill children who have committed horrific acts. But the reason that I thought we should have this hearing is that the recent series of incidences of shootings on schoolyards seems to me to tell us something that I can't quite get my arms around, and that's why we've asked these experts to come in and try to give us a hand.

There is something about the level of the detachment from the consequences of this behavior that strikes me as profoundly different from what our world has known before. There is something about the ability of these kids to objectify their victims. It strikes me as very different. There's something about the randomness of the choice of victims. These weren't people of which necessarily grudges were held or there was some history of conflict, but just the terrible randomness that has produced this range of behavior that seems to me to be just outside of the margins of what we're used to. It just seems to be a lack of bookends, if you will, to the behavior that kids, our young kids, are contemplating.

The purpose of our hearing today is to begin to gain a better understanding of what causes certain children to commit particularly deadly crimes.

I want to thank each of our witnesses ahead of time for joining us as we seek to make sense of this profoundly disturbing phenomena.

This is not—you're academics, but this is not an academic exercise for us. On the contrary, there's an urgency to our purpose here. The senseless and tragic schoolyard murders in recent months has caused every American to answer a question for which we have no answer and that is why.

Research has pointed to both family and cultural factors such as child abuse, failure to bond with parent or significant other, media violence—I'd add Nintendo and that sort of what's available on the computers, absent fathers, peer influences, the availability of firearms, exposure to family and community violence, and there's also been the note in these recent cases that the perpetrators of these crimes have all been males. What does that tell us? And nearly—up until this last incident, the victims were all schoolgirls and female teachers. What can we understand about that?

In just the past few days, an eighth grade student from a rural school district in my own State of Pennsylvania, stands accused of murdering a teacher he may not even have known. And we were all stunned, I think, by the videotapes of the young man in the back seat of a police car within, I assume, an hour of these cold-blooded murders laughing and looking for some sort of reaction from his peers.

This comes hard on the heels of another deadly encounter where two young boys from Arkansas—one as young as 11—turned a schoolyard, their own schoolyard, into a killing field. Jonesboro, Arkansas; Stamps, Arkansas; Paducah, Kentucky; Norwalk, California; Pearl, Mississippi; and now little Edinboro, Pennsylvania, will no longer be remembered for their school's championship seasons, but for the deadly, senseless violence that happened there.

And as frightening as this is, these are not mere isolated incidences. Our witnesses already know what I am about to say, but it bears repeating. Nearly 3 million thefts and violent crimes occurred on, or near, school campuses in 1993, alone. Guns in schools have reached the point where approximately one in four major school districts now use metal detectors for the entrance of the children to the buildings. Between 1985 and 1992, the number of homicides committed by young people doubled. How ironic this awful and senseless violence takes place against a backdrop of a nation whose wealth is unparalleled, whose military might is unchallenged, whose technology is unsurpassed, and whose opportunity for an abundant future is unmatched.

I have been pondering in recent months the strange dichotomy between our wealth of things and the increasing poverty of our culture. And I am increasingly reminded of the words of Charles Dickens when he begins the "Tale of Two Cities," it was, he wrote, "The best of times and it was the worst of times."

I began—the Chairman mentioned he has a career in law enforcement. I began my career as a social worker and where I worked with troubled children, abused children, neglected children, and with their families. And I know from experience, how traumatized children can become. But, I will tell you that nothing has prepared me—or I don't think any of us—for a nation in which an average of approximately 14 children, nearly 1 every 100 minutes, dies each day from a violent act.

While this violence is deeply disturbing, it is important to remember it is not the norm. Millions of our sons and daughters will have a happy and productive school year again this year. They'll play in the schoolyard. They'll join the chess club. They'll compete in girls' softball leagues. They'll go to dances, and they'll play with their friends. And they're not planning to steal anyone's "Walkman," they're planning to steal second base. And if they die in school, it will only be of embarrassment.

But unless we understand the causes behind the alarming number of violent acts by young children, then we will watch these horrific scenes repeated across our Nation. Our obligation is to try to understand why some children become so completely detached from acts of deadly violence and whether the causes of this violence are, in fact, affecting all of our children.

And we look forward to the witnesses testifying. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Jim, for your eloquent opening statement. Congressman Roemer.

Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I, first of all, want to join my ranking Member today, Mr. Scott, from the State of Virginia, in holding out our hands as Democrats to the Republican party on a very, very serious issue and extend all the helping hands that we can in trying to find some solutions to this vexing and growing problem in our nation.

As a father of three children, and as a representative that represents thousands of children in my home State of Indiana, I worry when my children go to school with a cold. I worry when my children get called a name on the playground. I worry if my children miss a couple days of school and fall behind in their academics. It is almost unfathomable to me to have to begin to worry—as some of our parents are across this country—about the impact on safety for our children simply surviving in school. Simply surviving from guns or violence.

So I think that this effort to try to understand better this growing violence in our Nation's school, try to understand better what causes it, try to better understand why children resort to this, try to better understand how we prevent it in the future.

I know that we've experienced this terrible loss in Arkansas where we lost six children and a teacher who committed an heroic act. I don't think, you know—that's replicated only in—almost only in situations of combat overseas when the teacher stepped in front of a bullet in Arkansas and saved a child who's living today. That was a true hero, that teacher.

Then, in Pennsylvania, just recently on Friday night, a teacher lost their life due to a shooting. My understanding, from the AP story is the theme of the dance was, "I've had the time of my life." "I've had the time of my life," was the theme at the dance and, certainly, the student didn't respect life, and a teacher lost their life. A 48-year-old teacher is dead today. How ironic that the theme was, "I've had the time of my life."

In trying to understand better how we prevent this, I was very interested to note in The New York Times just the other day, on April 25th, an article appeared which the headline reads, "Early Aid is Shown to Benefit At-Risk Children." There are nine studies that the Rand Corporation undertook to try to see how early intervention programs helped reduce the likelihood of high at-risk children getting involved in crime, welfare, and other costs to society. They found in studying two in particular, the Peri Pre-School Program, which had 123 disadvantaged children. They followed them over a long period of time until they were 27-years old. For every $12,000 that was spent on those children, the program yielded $25,000 in future benefits to society—future costs that were avoided. These children were more likely to graduate from high school, less likely to be involved in crime.

Another study, the Elmira Pre-Natal Early Infancy Project, with 400 disadvantaged children. These children were tracked until they were 15. The higher-risk ones, the study found, for every $6,000 spent, there were savings of $24,000 in future costs to society. That is a profound benefit for humanity that these children, then, are doing things spiritually and economically for our country. It is a profound benefit to the costs of taxpayers in this country as well, too. Maybe our panelists will be able to talk a little bit about some of these programs that may assist.

As my distinguished Chairman said from the State of California, he said, "Well, the moral responsibility, the family responsibility is key." And I completely agree with him. When our families break down, our schools begin to show breakdown, and I think that these intervention programs are attempts that try to fill in the cracks of families that are falling apart increasingly in this country. We need these intervention and pro-active programs for our children.

Finally, let me just conclude, Mr. Chairman, and again I applaud you for holding this hearing. We had a 1984 study in this country that was called the "Nation At Risk," when we had such disparate outcomes in terms of our education opportunities. We don't want a 1998 study to be called, "A Nation at War," where our young people are killing each other and killing teachers, and where this becomes more and more likely to happen in our schools. And I hope that we can get a better understanding of exactly why and how we prevent it at today's hearing.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Congressman Roemer. Are other members seeking recognition for the purposes of offering an opening statement? Mr. Kucinich.

Mr. Kucinich. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee. Once again the Nation's airwaves are filled with disturbing stories about children using guns to murder other children in schools. There are no easy answers here, and people agree that a wide range of factors can push young people over the edge into serious acts of violence.

We live in an era in which violence has pervaded all aspects of our culture, yet we seem to know little about how different individuals react to the same exposure to violent TV shows, video games, and movies.

I welcome the hearing today and look forward to our witnesses helping to shed some light on the underlying cause of youth violence and what we can do about it. I would submit that the answers are not simply legislative, nor the experiments of behaviorists.

The answers are, also, spiritual. We need to—if we learn anything from these events—we may learn that we need to reach out to our youth by showing them that children's lives count by showing them that children's lives have value, that children's lives can have meaning, that what children think matters, that what children do matters, that children are needed, that children are our future.

We need to teach children respect, yes, but we also need to show children love. Adults need to set better examples, and we need to take responsibility. Troubled children are not someone else's problem; they're our Nation's challenge.

Where does the violence which afflicts children begin? One could say that it's a disease of the human heart and since children are so open and so openhearted, violence would affect them first. So we have to ask where violence is created in our culture. We have to ask where violence enters our thoughts and our words and our deeds. And as we confront that violence in ourselves, we can learn how our children inherited it, and then, we may begin to create, through the pain, a legacy of peace so that we can remember the benediction, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." Thank you.

Chairman Riggs. Ms. McCarthy.

Mrs. McCarthy of New York. Mr. Chairman, No. 1, I would like to thank you for allowing me to join this panel. This is certainly a subject that I care very much about. And Mr. Greenwood, I mourn with you for what happened in your State.

Yesterday, I spent some time in my schools—which is what I do on Mondays and Fridays—and, certainly, the children were talking to me about it. And a number of parents also said, "Should we be setting up metal detectors?" And I said, "No." I said, "Let's look at the root." I said, "We're doing enough to scare our young children." And, as you said, the majority of our young people—the majority of our children in this world are good.

Yes, we have to find the solutions to those that are troubled and, hopefully, we'll find that through the panel. But to put metal detectors on our schools throughout the country is, I think, wrong. If anything, I think that sets up that we, as adults, are looking at our children and saying they are going to do wrong. And we shouldn't condemn all the children for what goes on.

I think the saddest thing and, yet, probably the best thing is my old grade school—and I'm still in my same town—at kindergarten they start conflict resolution, which I think is terrific. But isn't it a shame that we've come to that point that we start working with our children at kindergarten for conflict resolution?

I'm looking forward to the panel and I hope we don't overreact, again, on legislation to things that happen in the newspaper. Yes, we're looking for solutions. Yes, we want to make this a better world, but we have to really look at it closely. Because, as I said, the majority of people in this country, and especially our children, are good. And we have to remember that, and let's work with those children that we know need help.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Ms. McCarthy, and we appreciate your joining us today because we know you have real expertise to share as well.

With that, I call forward the first panel of witnesses; Mr. Stephens, Dr. Patterson, Dr. Cantor, Dr. Poland, and Congressman Greenwood will take the Chair and make a more formal introduction of our witnesses.

Mr. Greenwood. [presiding] Welcome witnesses. Thank you for traveling across the country on barely short notice, and thank you for your patience in coming to testify. We are looking very much forward to both your testimony and our opportunity to query you.

I will begin with Mr. Ron Stephens who is the—pardon me. It is "Doctor," excuse me. Dr. Ron Stephens, Executive Director of the National School Safety Center. Sir, if you could limit your testimony to five minutes, we would appreciate that. Thank you.



Mr. Stephens. Thank you, Chairmen Riggs and Greenwood, together, and committee members. You helped to graciously set the stage, and rather ominously set the stage for what we need to discuss today.

Clearly, crime and violence has invaded far too many of our campuses. One in four students and one in nine teachers is a victim of assault or attack each year in schools.

Since 1992, the National School Safety Center has been tracking violent-associated school deaths on campuses across the country. There have been 211 of these. Here's what we know about some of the common factors right now: 40 percent of the youngsters involved had a past background of criminal misbehavior; 24 percent were drug involved in some way; 35 percent were gang involved; 70 percent had previously brought a weapon to school.

What this doesn't say is that if we know that 40 percent had a background of criminal misbehavior, it suggests that 60 percent did not. If 24 percent had a background of drug abuse, it suggests that 76 percent did not. And so, as we look at the inverse of all of these factors, from the gang involvement—if 35 percent were gang involved, 65 percent were not. If 70 percent of them previously brought a weapon to school, it suggests that 30 percent didn't.

So the question is, what caused the behavior to have them gang involved, to be drug involved, to use the weapon to cause the violence? And these are incredibly difficult questions for us to try to come up with answers for because so many of the causes go from economic, political, social, to individual matters.

Some of the things that various committee members have identified are certainly causes which, in addition, I would suggest are incredibly important. One is the absence of a responsible adult.

Despite all the high-tech strategies for the metal detectors, the intrusion control systems, or high-tech mechanisms to monitor youngsters, that one thing that we do know is that still the single, most effective strategy for keeping our schools safe is the physical presence of a responsible adult. We've seen a pattern of past victimization. We know that, typically, of bullies and criminals, that 80 percent of them were first victims themselves.

Youngsters who feel isolated and ignored and neglected or abused and teased are another factor when you look at who has been doing this shooting. There's a significant amount of teasing that has been involved and harassing on the campuses, alcohol and other drugs, availability of guns, and then, lack of training, not only on the part of students but staff.

At one school where a youngster had shot a couple of other students, we learned that 54 children had seen the weapon on campus that day, but nobody reported it. And when I asked one young lady, "Why not?", she said, "I didn't think it was any of my business." And part of our goal is to let youngsters know that they play a key part in their own safety.

The teachers' standpoint, the training, just as much—I went through one of the best teacher training institutions, I thought, anywhere in the country, but they never taught me how to deal with a weapon-wielding student or a violent student.

The bottom line is: Youngsters don't go onto the campus and just start pulling the trigger of a gun. Generally, there's some warning signs. They may be subtle. It could be a rumor; it could be a threat; it could be an argument; it might be something as simple as name-calling.

It's interesting, in Jonesboro, Mitchell Johnson warned that something big might happen today. Michael Carneal, in Paducah, warned students to stay away from school the day that he shot the other children. And then, even Barry Loukaitis, in Moses Lake, Washington, he wrote about his violence in an English essay. So there's a lot of subtle indicators that may come like that. We've got to work with youngsters and others to share that information.

For the most part, violence doesn't begin at school, but it comes onto the campus. It is not detectable by the metal detectors oftentimes, counselors, or teachers because fear, anger, and hopelessness, and frustration are so often carried invisibly in hearts and minds.

Whatever the source of the violence—the home, the community, or elsewhere—the effects are still extremely destructive. As a father of three, as a father of a Los Angeles County Sheriff officer and father-in-law of two teachers, I have a very strong personal interest in the continuing search to identify what we can do. Here's some things that I think Congress can do in particular to help:

First, to place school safety on the educational agenda.

Secondly, to continue to fund the National School Safety Center and organizations like this until the problem subsides. And this is important to us, inasmuch as our funding has recently expired, but the work is not yet done. We still need to work as a central resource for model programs to provide training and technical assistance and to provide national leadership as a catalyst for the schools.

Secondly, to continue to provide grant funds for research and evaluation of violence prevention programs. It's interesting—whenever a plane crashes, we have a National Transportation Safety Board that will investigate. We need to do the same thing in school violence.

It's difficult for local communities or States to make those individual efforts, and yet, there are lessons that we need to learn which I believe will emerge as we look into these.

We need to ascertain the conditions that encouraged or allowed these tragedies to happen, and then look at not only the causal factors, but protective, prevention, and intervention factors.

And then, finally, if the Congress will continue to encourage State legislators to pass comprehensive safe school legislation. Clearly, education is a Federal concern, but it is a State function. We've got to continue to do things such as mandating school crime reporting, mandate safe school planning. An administrator without a safe school plan is like a pilot without a flight plan.

We need to expand our alternative programs, expand after-school activities, truancy prevention, interagency cooperation, and finally, teacher training. But I think, as much as anything else, we need to decide how we're going to invest our resources, either in terms of education or incarceration.

Thank you.


Mr. Greenwood. Thank you very much, Dr. Stephens, and I would now like to turn to Dr. Gerald R. Patterson for his testimony. He is a research scientist of the Oregon Social Learning Center.

Thank you, Dr. Patterson, for being with us and we look forward to hearing from you, sir.




Mr. Patterson. My pleasure, although I find it difficult to compress 35 years of research into 5 minutes. But I'm going to make three points covering the several decades of work on aggressive children turned out by our institute.

The first point will concern our understanding of where aggression in children comes from; at least we have a model that we think explains a good deal of this.

And the second focus would be in briefly describing our efforts to develop an effective treatment for aggressive children and adolescents.

And the third point, to briefly describe the prevention studies that have emerged in the last five years that are based on these ideas about the theory and about intervention.

To go back to the first point, we started about 20 years ago. A group of us decided that, even though we were teaching graduate students how to do therapy with aggressive children, we were convinced it didn't work and decided that we would build a better way of intervening.

And to do that, we found it necessary to train observers to actually go to homes and classrooms, so that we could see what was going on. And we needed the observation data to tell us when behavior had changed because the parents involved in these families gave us very bias reports. No matter what we did, they reported improvement. If we did experiments where there's nothing going on, they still saw improvement, so we needed the lever that would give accurate feedback.

And when we went into the homes and the classrooms to actually observe hundreds of families, we began to see a very interesting thing that was going on that we had not suspected before going in. And very briefly, it's that in the myriad exchanges among family members, they were actually training not only the target child, but the siblings as well—these really highly interconnected—to be aggressive. And that's very counterintuitive I know, but the training for aggression in very young children starting as early as 18 to 24 months—does that mean I'm halfway there?


Chairman Riggs. We'll give you some indulgence in time, Doctor.

Mr. Patterson. Well, I'll speed it up.

The siblings and the parents were actually training the child to be aggressive during conflict episodes. And conflict episodes in these families occurred once every three minutes. Even in normal families like yours and mine, there's an incredibly high rate of conflict going on—like once every eight or nine minutes in a normal family. That's the training ground for coercion and anti-social behavior, during the early stages.

When the child goes to school, the peer group picks that up and they provide positive support—the victims do. And during adolescence, we have videotapes of adolescent exchanges that just document, you know, in a crystal-clear fashion how the deviant peer is training our problem child in new forms of anti-social behavior.

And in using these variables to test them to say, "Well, do they really work?", we've found that when you measure these carefully in the family, it accounts for 40 to 60 percent of the information about aggression 2 and 3 years later, or in statistical terms, 40 percent of the variance, 60 percent of the variance.

Now, we also find that this same process works so that the form of the coercive behavior—the temper tantrums and the hitting and yelling—become increased and amplitude over time, and by the same little mechanism.

The point of everything I've said to this point can be summarized in one sentence. The sad thing is that aggression works. It has a function on the playground and in the family as well, and these observation studies show that very clearly, I think.

Another point about, you know, these early beginnings, there's a regular progression that eventually leads to violence. Now that's where I want to end up here. But to start at the young age in the observation studies in the homes, it starts with the simple thing that all children show, and that is noncompliance, then it moves on. Most children have a few temper tantrums, and some children hit once in awhile, but these children are moving through that progression at a very much higher level than your children do and mine.

And for our kids, it ends. For these kids, that progression keeps going on, in our longitudinal studies, to the point where the mother can see the noncompliance and temper tantrums at high rates in the toddler. The teacher in the second grade in these studies says, "Yes, and that kid is fighting and he's stealing."

You see, there's a pattern. It's identifiable; it's measurable, and it's going somewhere. And where it's going to go—and I had all these beautiful transparencies but I don't have an overhead projector.


But anyway—just picture a probabilistic trajectory going from childhood to violent juveniles and to career adult criminals over here. And the progression goes extremely anti-social at age 10. So parents see it; teachers see it; peers see it, and even the child sees it. So do observers. So the risk is that that child is going to move towards early arrest.

By age 14, the police will have arrested him at least once—so anti-social, early arrest, and then to chronic offending. If you're arrested early, the odds are .75 that you're going to be a chronic offender. That means being arrested three times before you're 18 years old. And if you're a chronic offender, the likelihood is very strong that you're going to be one of that select few that we call violent in a physical assault, rape, attack with weapons, and so on.

Now I'm not talking about inner cities. I'm talking about a little metropolitan area in Eugene, Oregon, of 200,000. So our model fits that. We need to know if it fits your cities and—I mean that should be an object of study.

And the odds of going from juvenile chronicity to adult offending are like .7 and .8 that's—it's your chronic juvenile offenders who move on to become adult offenders. I mean it's kind of common sense, but I'm saying there's a lot of studies showing very high linkages there. It's a bridge—it's a bridge; it's a pattern; it's predictable, and it's identifiable. Eighty-eight percent of all of our violent offenders in Eugene come through all that whole trajectory, by the way. One more—

Mr. Greenwood. This would be a good time to summarize your testimony, and then we'll all have many questions for you, sir.

Mr. Patterson. Yes, why don't I just add one more point to the theory, then I'll stop.

So there's a path—maybe a single path—going to chronic and violent offending is point number one. Point No. 2 is, our studies show that the disrupted family process variables that you can see in children predict every one of those points in that trajectory. So a single theory can explain the movement through the trajectory. It's on a single path.

I'll not take the time to try to talk about treatment or prevention studies. I mean if that's useful, I can talk about it later.

Thank you.

Mr. Greenwood. I'm sure it will be. Thank you, sir, for your testimony.

I'd like to now turn to Dr. Joanne Cantor, Communication Arts Department at the University of Wisconsin. Thank you for being here. We look forward to your testimony.


Ms. Cantor. Thank you. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am pleased to appear before you to present my views on the causes of violence in children. For the past 23 years, I have been a professor at the University of Wisconsin, focusing my teaching and research on the effects of the mass media on children. Recently, I have participated in the National Television Violence study, research that explores the television landscape and the harm done to children by exposure to television violence. I have a book due out in September titled, "Mommy I'm Scared," which helps parents protect their children from the effects of media violence. Finally, and not the least important, I am the mother of a 9-year-old son, so I can address these issues as a parent as well as a researcher and author.

As you will hear today, there are many factors that contribute to children behaving violently. Having done research on this issue myself, and having reviewed the vast literature on the topic, I can say without hesitation that media violence is a substantial contributor to our children becoming violent, becoming desensitized to the consequences of violence, and becoming fearful of being a victim of violence. There is an overwhelming consensus on this point among researchers and among public health organizations.

Research shows that the way violence is portrayed can make it more or less likely that a child will adopt violent attitudes or become violent. For example, violence that is committed by good guys that is shown as justified and that shows little visible pain or harm is more likely to be imitated than violence committed by evil characters or violence that brings pain or punishment. The National Television Violence study, which recently released its final report on the most representative and extensive sample of television programs ever studied, showed that not only has violence remained at a high level on television, the way most violence is portrayed is destined to promote children's aggression.

For example, in more than 40 percent of programs with violence, the bad violent characters are never punished, and only 4 percent of violent programs portray a theme that promotes non-violence. Moreover, more than half of the violent interactions on television show no pain, and almost 40 percent of violent interactions show good guys behaving violently. If someone set out to design an ad campaign to promote violence by making it seem glamorous, effective, risk-free, and painless, they could hardly do better if they tried.

When we see children commit unspeakable and unexplainable acts of violence, it is natural to ask whether repeated exposure to media violence that is glamorized, sanitized, and trivialized contributed to their behavior. There is no doubt that each tragedy is the result of many unhealthy influences working together. But when a child resorts to gunfire to correct what he sees as an injustice, is it unreasonable to think that repeated exposure to violent incidents on television—25 percent of which involve guns—might have provided encouragement to act that way? In many of these well-publicized incidents, the young perpetrators seem surprised at the severity of the consequences to themselves and their victims. Maybe the fact that violence on television usually underplays its negative effects has something to do with this.

Although television violence is not the strongest contributor to children's violent behavior, it is the one over which we may have the most control. Producers and distributors of television programs make choices of what to show, and it is in their power to provide programming that is more or less likely to produce harm.

What else can we do besides urging the media to be more responsible?

We need better parent education about the effects of media violence on children. When parents understand the harmful effects, they will be motivated to act in protective ways. We also need to promote media literacy education for children. Teaching children about the effect of television and teaching them the ways in which television distorts reality can help reduce many of the negative effects of what they see.

Speaking personally as a parent, a major problem is that TV automatically makes available in my home thousands of programs I would never select if I were making the choice. Rather than having the option of selecting what I want my child to see, everything is accessible at the touch of a remote, and I only have the option of playing defense—actively working to shield my child from what I consider the worst of it. Given this situation, I need accurate information about the content of programs. TV ratings can help, but only if all stations, including NBC, use ratings that at least point to where the violence is. And the ratings will need to be assigned accurately and consistently. Blocking technologies like the V-chip that will permit parents to keep the most harmful programs from entering their homes will need to be effective and user-friendly.

If all of us want to help parents socialize their children well, it will be important that research be continued to monitor the TV environment. Unfortunately, funding for the National Television Violence study has now ended.

We must keep tabs on how appropriately television programs are being rated, whether the existing rating system needs to be modified further and how well the V-chip and other blocking devices are working. We need ensure that these tools really help parents reduce TV's negative influences and help promote children's healthy development. In spite of the enormity and complexity of the problem of child violence and the fact that aggression-promoting images seem firmly entrenched in the television landscape.

I believe that media education for parents and children, better labeling of programs, and effective blocking tools can really make a difference.

Thank you.


Mr. Greenwood. Thank you very much, Dr. Cantor.

And now we turn to Dr. Scott Poland, who is the director of Psychological Services at the Cypress Fairbanks Intermediate School District. Thank you for being with us, sir, and we look forward to hearing your testimony.


Mr. Poland. Thank you, Mr. Greenwood, and members of the committee. I'm here representing my school district, where I have worked for the past 20 years where crisis intervention and prevention are our highest priority. I work with teachers, students, and parents every day. I'm also here representing the National Association of School Psychologists, which I'll refer to as NASP. I serve as the National Chairman of the Emergency Assistance Team for that organization.

This past few months, I've been extremely busy as I was also the National Crisis Team Leader in Paducah, Kentucky, and Jonesboro, Arkansas, for the National Organization for Victims Assistance. This past weekend, I spent considerable time on the telephone consulting with school personnel in key positions in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, Mr. Greenwood.

I can tell you that these communities have been staggered by these tragic events, and I will never forget, for example, in Jonesboro, Arkansas, 25 hours after the shooting standing up in front of the gymnasium full of 500 students and parents who were tortured by the "whys?" and "how?" questions, who were understandably so angry at these perpetrators and the laws in Arkansas which don't allow lengthy enough incarceration in the—for the belief of the parents and the students.

I was able to change the focus of that meeting to dealing with, "But what are we going to do now? What is going to be the path of recovery here in Jonesboro?" And I answered the questions from students about, "Will that fire alarm ring tomorrow? Do I have to go outside? How do I face going back into the classroom where my teacher was killed and she will never return?"

I think we are all tortured by the "why?" questions, and I have several points I'd like to outline. And these are not easy answers as you all well know.

First of all, we have to recognize that most children, and even many adolescents, in our society do not understand the finality of death. Psychological theorists would tell us by age 13 they're supposed to understand death is permanent, it's biological, our organs stop working. My experience in working with children is, indeed, they do not understand that.

Secondly, I certainly concur with the many things mentioned by Dr. Cantor that we must examine the effects of motion picture and television violence on our children. Indeed, I think many times they are simply carrying out acts that they have seen hundreds—and, yes, even thousands—of times through television and motion pictures. And unfortunately, many children are also exposed to violence in their homes, in their schools, and in their communities. And they see people getting their way through violence. So we have some tough issues to tackle with regards to the way violence is portrayed in our society, and frankly, it is glamorized.

The other issue that we must address is that in every school crisis that I've ever been involved in, children always know. They know about warning signs. They know about danger. They know about homicidal and suicidal behavior. And Dr. Stephens has given you further examples of that. We must teach children at a very early age. If I feel unsafe, if there's danger, if there's homicidal and suicidal talk, I must get the help of an adult right away. Now that's an easy thing to say, but how do we put that into practice? How do we ensure that every 17-year-old in America will approach the nearest adult and tell them about that gun that is on the school campus? Estimates are there's as many as 270,000 guns go to school in this country every day, and we should not be surprised that we have injuries and death because of that—which is another question that we have to examine closely. We must end the conspiracy of silence in our schools that allows drugs, weapons, and guns to be on our campuses.

The other issue that we must address is firearm access to children. There is a gun in every third home in America. Very few children in America could not get a gun within a few hours. And one of the phrases that's in the literature that I would like to share with you today is this one: "The trigger pulls the finger." What that means to me is that a child today who is angry, who is impulsive, who does not understand the finality of death, and who is greatly influenced by medial portrayals of violence just might use that gun and injure or kill someone and change lives forever.

And as I look around the room, I know that there are people here that went to school about the time that I did, and I know that many of you were not concerned about someone coming into your school and shooting at you. You also were not concerned that someone in the midst of an argument might pull a gun and shoot you. I know how we settled arguments 20 and 30 years ago—and I'm not going to say that I can condone fist fights as an acceptable way to manage anger and emotions and settle arguments—but I think that we all know that it was very rare that someone was injured and extremely rare that someone was killed. Today, children have access to guns and "the trigger pulls the finger."

The other issue that we must deal with is—it is my opinion, that we must set aside 30 minutes a day in every school classroom in America to work on solving problems, to work on anger management, to work on controlling impulses, to work on feeling good about ourselves, and learning to get along with other people. Those are the issues we must deal with. I have personally counseled with the victims of violent acts, the survivors of suicide. It saddens me to tell you that six percent of all suicides in this country involve a gun and that holds true for children. I'm reminded by the pained words of one adult—one parent—that I worked with who said, "But I thought I taught all of my children never to touch the loaded pistol that I left on the dresser." Unfortunately, his daughter used that gun to kill herself. The final note she left to her parents were, "Why did you make this so easy? Why did you make this gun so available to me?" I actively support legislation that makes it more difficult for children to get access to firearms, and legislation that holds adults accountable when that firearm they purchased finds its ways into the hands of a child or adolescent.

I'd like to close my comments today with a quote. The quote is from Dack who said, "The future is the past in preparation." What that quote means to me is that if we do not make major societal changes, we will have more school crises, we will have more youth violence in the 1998-99 school year than we've had during the 1997-98 school year.

They're not easy answers, and I applaud all of you for your efforts in trying to figure out what we can do as a society to move forward and to make changes so that we will have no more incidents like we had in Pearl, Mississippi; Paducah, Kentucky; Jonesboro, Arkansas, and Edinboro, Pennsylvania.

And I certainly support Dr. Stephens' comment, "We very much need the National School Safety Center," and we need national studies on school violence and why these events are happening, and what we can learn from them.

And I thank you very much for the opportunity to talk with you.


Mr. Greenwood. Thank you very much, Dr. Poland, for your testimony as well, and let me—the Chairman and I have been chatting here, and we've come up with a thought. It's somewhat experimental; I hope we'll have the indulgence.

But there are some many young people in the audience that what we would like to suggest to you is, that while the members of the Subcommittee here ask our witnesses some questions and while they answer, if you would like to think about how this has impacted you, and what your thoughts and how you might want to advise Congress on this; and maybe in about a half an hour, we'll ask if any of you would like to come forward and make some comments into the microphones.

I'd like to, Mr. Chairman, do—I'd like to—the Chairman of the Subcommittee, Congressman Riggs, has to go to another meeting, and so I would like to have him begin the questioning.

Chairman Riggs. I want to thank you, Congressman Greenwood, for assuming the responsibility as the acting Chairman of the Subcommittee. I, also, want to thank our witnesses. I apologize to the witness on our second panel in advance if I have to leave before he concludes his testimony or before we have the opportunity for any give and take.

And I guess the question that I want to pose—well, both the theory and, then, the question that I'd like to pose: My theory is, obviously, that students—young people—who are enjoying their academic experience, their experience going to school, learning, and all that that entails—extra-curricular activities as well as actually in-classroom learning—are probably fairly well-adjusted young people and not inclined to perpetrate an act of violence against a peer. So I'm wondering if—what kind of students the accused perpetrators are in these incidents? If any of you know, or if anyone is going to look at that, No. 1?

And more broadly, in terms of any data that's out there, in your discipline, if there is a way that educators can detect young people who might be likely to be involved in an act of violence against their peers because they're apathetic about school or just generally alienated towards life?

Because, again, it just seems to me since so many of these incidents have actually occurred on school campuses or in conjunction with school activities that healthy, well-adjusted, young people who are learning and enjoying going to school and who are, on the whole, showing—I guess you would say—healthy progress from childhood to adulthood are not going to engage in these kind of acts no matter what kind of messages that they are bombarded with outside the home or inside the home, certainly, at school in what passes for the mainstream media and popular culture today.

So do we have any way of knowing what kind of students the accused perpetrators are? And then, again, more broadly or generally, is there a way to detect early on? And what should educators—or what should school officials—do to try and intervene with those young people to see if they can't get them more involved and, therefore, more enthusiastic about going to school and learning—which is after all obviously their primary responsibility at that young age? Dr. Poland?

Mr. Poland. Mr. Riggs, yes, I have a couple of comments having been to two of those communities and having consulted with personnel in the third. I think essentially these are not young people who are having academic difficulty. But I can tell you, in working with school personnel all the time, they know who is at risk.

They want children to be placed first in our society. They want low-cost or no-cost mental health services available to children. They can spot children, and they do all the time, who are having extreme difficulty.

And we know the predictors of youth violence. We know they're things like media exposure, violence in the homes, substance abuse, gun access, child abuse, and ineffective parenting. And we need programs to work in all of those areas.

Mr. Stephens. Oftentimes that information, in terms of their past background of misbehavior, getting into fights or intimidation or simple things as name calling, those represent some good early warning signs. But for school officials, in a number of these shootings, they had no idea of the background of misbehavior that these youngsters had because, in a number of cases, they were transfer students who came to the district from another place. And typically, we shield juvenile information records, and school officials very often are quite blind-sided to whether or not they have Charlie Manson, Jr. in their school or in their class.

Chairman Riggs. Well, let me ask you then, Dr. Stephens, my other question. Is there a way, through your organization or through your organization in conjunction with Dr. Hammond's organization, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—which is, I guess, it's somewhat of an offshoot NIH or works with NIH is some way—is that correct, Dr. Hammond? Or is this completely separate? Okay, I know of the good work that you do.

I just want to establish that is there a way to do a study and report back your findings to Congress? I don't know how expensive such a study would be. I would assume that any kind of study could, hopefully, be taken out of existing funds that wouldn't require new budget authorization and appropriation. But where we could compare and contrast these incidents and see if, in fact, there are any common causes or factors related to these incidents which the young people and their families share, number one?

And No. 2, to get more extensive information on the family situation, the—if you will—the environment where that young person is being raised. Maybe we can learn some lessons from that and then look at whether or not there is some basis for an additional—you know—Federal rule or response, although I'm very leery about replacing the welfare state with the nanny state, and I generally have reservations about how paternalistic government can or should be. But I think we're a little bit handicapped because we don't know a whole lot more about what happened here, about the young people, about their families, about their upbringing, and that's the kind of information I think that we, as elected policy decision makers, need.

Mr. Stephens. I'm sure Dr. Hammond will discuss that further and, in terms of the base line, we have the list of all the places where this has occurred, but quite frankly, we haven't gone in or had the time or resources to make those individual analyses. But it's something that I hope that can come, and it will provide a tremendous benefit when we can identify those common themes and then develop appropriate prevention and intervention strategies.

Chairman Riggs. Okay. Well, if there is a way to delve into that and maybe get a quick return—a response—it might be possible to incorporate any recommendations or suggestions that you made based on your research findings into the juvenile crime control legislation whether it is our bill, H.R. 1818, or some hybrid of our bill, and Mr. McCollum's bill or a Senate version of the legislation. So I am interested in getting more detailed research information. And with that, I want to thank the witnesses again, and I'll yield back to you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Greenwood. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and we'll yield five minutes now to the ranking Member, Mr. Scott.

Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank the witnesses for a very helpful testimony. I have several questions and, first, to Dr. Stephens,. You indicated from your testimony that sometimes teachers are blind-sided. You pointed out that a lot of students, in fact, do not exhibit the risk factors where you could have identified them before. Is that to suggest that our prevention initiatives ought to be global and not case specific, and we ought to have initiatives that would help all children to cope and not try to aim the services at this one or that one?

Mr. Stephens. It really requires an investment of time in every child to get to know them. I think we've made some tremendous steps in many of our states by lowering class size, but it's a matter of how we want to utilize our resources.

At one school in New York City, for instance, they have 40 officers who roll up every day to metal scan 1,800 students. It takes two and a half hours to get them through the line. It a function of, how do we want to invest our time and resources? And so the extent we can do it with mentoring, with motivating, with addressing special needs we will have done a good day's work.

Mr. Scott. You mentioned the responsible adult as an important factor in a child's life. Obviously, some children are coming with that responsible adult either in the home, or next door, or an uncle, or something. For those that don't, I assume you would be looking at the boys' and girls' clubs staff, Boy Scout troop leaders, or maybe guidance counselors. Would those be helpful for those children that do not have responsible adults in their lives?

Mr. Stephens. Absolutely, we've got to put together a very comprehensive team. In Seattle, Washington, for instance, the superintendent of schools there has developed a cadre of nearly 10,000 volunteers that are linked up one-on-one with youngsters who have special needs. But I think as much as anything else, school districts have to look at what their individual problems are, bring together their local resources, and determine what best strategies can be put in place.

Mr. Scott. So if you had funding for a community to help go through that process, like we did in the bill that we have referred to on numerous occasions in this hearing, that would be the strategy that we ought to pursue to reduce crime?

Mr. Stephens. That could be one of a number of strategies. Simply encouraging schools to develop appropriate safe school plans and to have, perhaps, some demonstration sites.

Mr. Scott. You mentioned a number of things that we need to do. Have you evaluated what these things might cost?

Mr. Stephens. Many of the things do not have a great deal of cost. It's more about community will and commitment as opposed to tremendous amount of resources for equipment.

Mr. Scott. I say that because we are willing to invest billions of dollars in prisons, and a lot of these things that you've mentioned have very little cost at all.

Dr. Patterson, you've gone to great length to talk about this trajectory towards adult chronic criminal, life and crime, so that we can sit back and watch a child from very early on go through these various steps. I assume you recognize that we'd like to know what we can do about it. You promised testimony on treatment and prevention. What should we do?

Mr. Patterson. I'll be much briefer. In the 1970's, three different groups worked on the development of parent training approaches to intervening with anti-social children who were between the ages 3 and 12, the younger set. And these are beautifully controlled, well-designed random assignment studies with one, two, and three-year follow-up. And the data says, "Yes," that there's some modest success in getting these children to function at a normal level.

And in the last five years, these same ideas are being built into prevention studies of which there are now four or five, and there are some of them in their fifth and sixth year of follow-up.

And I'd like to go back to the point you raised a moment ago about, you know, what could we do with in some of these school settings. You might consider trying some of the prevention studies which begin with the unlikely invitation to all of the parents of fifth grade boys, or first grade boys in another study, to come into this study of where you are going to focus, mainly, on parent training skills. Parent training or parenting is not an instinct, and the ideas and the skills are being lost in our society for a lot of different reasons. So when you set these group training sessions up, we were surprised to find that up to 80 percent of the families invited, you know, actually came.

And then to your second question, well, does this really work? These are large-scale studies involving several hundred families in the experimental and control groups. And a rough answer to your question is, "Yes, it looks very promising." Do they prevent delinquencies? It's too early to say, I don't know. And they're much more expensive than the techniques that were being discussed before, so that's a problem.

Mr. Scott. When you say they don't prevent delinquency, does it reduce delinquency?

Mr. Patterson. No, I'm saying we don't know yet that intervening in the first and fifth grades with just all the families in the given area is going to reduce delinquency. We haven't followed them up long enough.

Mr. Greenwood. I'd like to make an observation or two and then ask a fairly narrow and specific question. But, first off, with regard to the kinds of things that can go on in a routine basis in the school, I had the—in the Pennsbury school district, in my district I was visiting recently, and in an elementary school I sat in on what they called "morning meeting," just a big way they began their day. It's part of a somewhat of a private project having to do with—it's called the Responsive Classroom, and just reading from the materials associated with that program they say how children are treated and how they learn to treat others is the central educational issue confronting our nation. We do not face, so much, a crisis in learning, as a crisis in learning to care. And Dr. Patterson mentioned that in family, there are conflicts every eight or nine minutes, and in a more dysfunctional family there are conflicts every three minutes. When you bring several hundred or several thousand students together—kids—together into one place, it's like a nuclear reaction.


There are conflicts incessantly. And it seems to me that's appropriate for some faction of what—some part of what we do in school to be associated with helping to deal with that very conflicting conflict-producing environment. And if schools are first and foremost about socialization, then that seems to be fundamental to socialization.

Clearly, there is—all of you have said there is no one single cause for these kinds of incidences. We anticipated that. It seems to me that when you start with one element, and maybe that's poor parenting, and then you add another element to the scale which is domestic violence, and then you add another element to the scale which might be the fact that the child is exposed to an awful lot of terrible violence in the media or is playing violent computer games or is listening to horrific, violent music lyrics, and then you add to that the fact that the student is teased or ostracized in school, and then you add to that the availability of a weapon. In those instances you're going to get a fairly predictable result.

But many of those elements have been around for a long time. There have always been ineffective parents. There have always been domestic violence in the home, always been kids who were teased and ostracized. One of the relatively newer elements, of course, is the media. And I'd like to focus my question to Dr. Cantor—and then ask others to respond if they have time—and that is have there, in fact, been good, well-controlled studies to take a look at the fact that this seems to be a fairly American phenomena—the birthplace of television and where television is so prevalent. It seems to be—there seems to be a correlation there, and the question is; do we know enough about the relationship between violence in individuals and violence in societies and the amount of violence that they're exposed to in the media?

Ms. Cantor. Well, we do know a lot and it's not simply an American phenomenon. As American television gets distributed now around the world, we're seeing similar findings. But a recent MEDA analysis of all the studies that have been done for the past 20 years, 200 studies looking at more than a thousand comparisons between violence viewing in control groups, shows overwhelming that the effects—the relationship between viewing violence and aggressive behavior is very strong in the short term; that is, children are more likely to commit violence right after they watch it. And also, in a cumulative sense, that watching violence over a long period of time adds up to a child becoming more violent. It contributes to children becoming more violent. It's especially strong in the youngest children, I think, because youngest children are just forming their ideas of right and wrong, and they have the least appreciation for the difference between fantasy and reality. So there's an overwhelming consensus in the literature that violence in the media—not just TV, but all of these areas that you mentioned—contributes.

If it's the only unhealthy thing in a child's environment, we probably won't see it result in criminal behavior, but it might result in desensitization, lack of empathy, or just hostility towards others. But when it's combined with any of these things, it really creates an explosive situation.

Mr. Greenwood. Thank you. Just one final comment, and that is what I thought was perhaps the most interesting of your testimony was the aspect you referred to the fact that when violence is seen to be perpetrated by the good guy, when it's rationalized and justified as justice—you know, with the fist or the gun—that it may have more than a damaging effect when the perpetrator is, in fact, perceived as the bad guy because then—I guess in every individual's heart we want to consider ourselves somehow, our actions justified—that we have a good purpose for what we're doing no matter what it is.

Ms. Cantor. That's right; and this is particularly true in children's—programming aimed at young children.

Mr. Greenwood. Thank you. Congressman Roemer.

Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was just discussing how enamored my children are with some of the super heroes out there and, that in your testimony, Dr. Cantor, when you said that when it's a good guy, our children seem to be even more taken in by it and then being able to justify the subsequent action, or punching, or reaction to a negative hero. My children are really into—although we try to make sure that they watch public television, and Barney and Arthur, and Sesame Street are some of their favorite shows—they are, also, into Star Wars these days, and Luke and Han are their heroes because these are good guys that can fight evil.

You say in your testimony that so often times the shows that are on television do not show, then, the consequences of the violent behavior, and I think that, generally, that's very true.

There is a foundation called the Just Think Foundation that I've worked with, and they try to develop media literacy curriculum for children. I wanted to ask you if you're aware of the Just Think Foundation or other kinds of foundations that work with our schools? What kinds of programs are more effective than others? Does it help to have some trained professionals or teachers who do the training with the children? Should the programs be family or school based? And is the school the best place to do these kinds of programs?

Ms. Cantor. I would say, "Yes," to everything you said.


There are any number of media literacy organizations that are trying to promote media literacy through parent groups, through school groups, through community groups. They—there hasn't been any large-scale study to compare the effectiveness of one approach or the other, but it seems to me that the best approaches will be based on the results of research on how children comprehend television and how they can be made to view things differently.

My—I thought you were going to ask me for advice to you, what you should do about your kids because they're going to watch this anyway. One of the problems is, of course, that kids like to watch this stuff. And so as parents, one of the two roles of media literacy are, first of all, to make sure parents know what the impact is, and second of all, to give them tools to talk with their children about what they—watch television with your child, and to have media literacy education in the schools. It is amazingly effective to bring these considerations in because most children watch television without a critical view, and bringing critical viewing skills in can have a very positive effect.

Mr. Roemer. I also wanted to ask, since Dr. Stephens is with the National School Safety Center and Dr. Poland is a member of the National Emergency Assistance Team and the National Organization for Victim Assistance, obviously, there is a national or a Federal role here. Can you, again, repeat for the committee what that national or Federal role is as part of the solution? And I want to emphasize that I think the solutions are family-based and parent-based, primarily. But when so many of our children are coming to school without the resources and the foundation of family, then we need to look at other alternatives as well, too, and hence, some of these prevention and intervention programs as well.

Mr. Stephens. The entire concept of creating safe schools on the national agenda because it shouldn't require an act of courage for you, as a parent, to send your child to school. Our role, as much as anything else, is to identify some of the best practices, best strategies and share those with school administrators around the country because they're all looking for answers. And there is some remarkable things being tried in different states all over the country in a variety of these areas, so I think as an information resource, national catalyst, and really focusing on everything that we can do to encourage the success of each child.

Mr. Roemer. Dr. Poland.

Mr. Poland. The National Association of School Psychologists is very committed to school children, teachers, administrators, and to parents. In particular, we'd like to help school administrators to make safe school plans and to not just focus on what to do after something bad has happened, but to think about what we can do to prevent it. We know the leading causes of death for children are accidents, homicides, and suicide. Where are our prevention programs?

And we certainly want to provide direct services to children and families whenever there are mental health problems. We see the role of a mental health provider as a very viable one for a school psychologist, and we want to work towards these very important curriculum programs that will make a difference and will teach kids to stop and think before they act and will help them understand that there are non-violent ways to manage anger and, in fact, anger is a normal emotion. We all have it, but we have to teach children ways that they can express anger without hurting themselves and other people.

Mr. Roemer. I thank the panel for their expertise and their help, and I hope that we can continue to work together on some solutions for this very profound problem.

Mr. Greenwood. Congressman McCarthy.

Mrs. McCarthy of New York. Again, thank you, Mr. Greenwood, for bringing this panel together. It has been fascinating. I guess I feel like there's never enough time to get all the answers. You know, usually—and we're lucky today because we're going over that five minutes because it always seems when you get into a subject then the light goes on and I'm going, "Wait a minute, we need more time. We need more time."

One of the things that I certainly am interested in is because we had Janet Reno back here—I guess—last spring, and one of the things that she talked about is that we usually can pick a lot of these kids out who had a long juvenile delinquency by second grade. The teachers can pick them out. So that goes with your theory.

Are any of you familiar with the program that's called Project Achieve, where they work with the whole school—there's the whole school system? Because that to me certainly is—especially when we see our children going pre-K—our school system seems to be the nucleus of where we can work with these children, and certainly working with educators up in Vermont where they have started reaching out, almost from birth, with working with families. And, you know, the more I start studying this, the more I'm starting to see that we can usually tell those families at risk, and I think those are the things that we have to really start looking into.

I happen to believe in prevention and, certainly, with the teams going out after an incident is of great comfort. But when we see the majority of the time, the warning signs way before, that's where we have to start working and intervening with the young children—younger and younger.

Last week, or a couple of weeks ago, was really the first time I ever heard of media literacy. Someone was talking to me and telling me the work that she was doing. She happened to be a radio announcer, and she was excited about this project that she was working on with school children—not just on violence, but also; why does a child want to buy this?

So I mean it's a whole—you know—fascinating subject that's opening up to me and, of course, you're the teachers. You're teaching us, and I think that's probably one of the most important things. I hope we can come full circle and figure out—and we'll never come up with all the answers. There's no such thing as that. But our obligation is to, certainly, start working with the youngest of the young and, hopefully, in time—and this is where we have to be patient, and I am a patient person. If we start really doing this, then in time we will have our children safer. But, of course, we want to try and come up with any solutions that we can so our younger people feel safe, too.

Any response to anything I've said?

Mr. Patterson. Yes; there is some prevention programs that are still being evaluated but to follow exactly along these lines—and I think they're very promising—where if a school, early on, sees a child who's really not fitting in and really not learning very well, and they contact the parent and not scold or punish in any way but say, you know, "We are running some parenting groups for parents of normal kids and we think you might like to work with them."

And they've also organized the police department into this kind of web so that if the police officer sees the child out on the street late at night, they stop and find out who he is and what the address is, and then send the family—not a citation—but a letter saying, "Last night at 11:30, I found Johnny," and so on, "And there is a parenting group in your area at this address. Here's the telephone number. You might want to use it." So that all of us in the community who see these early start, have something to feed it into as a way of helping the families instead of isolating them.

Mrs. McCarthy of New York. And I agree with you, but I found a number of times when we tried to approach a parent that there might be a slight problem, "Not my child." So I think it has to—I wish parents would. I think a lot of times parents are guilty nowadays because they're both working, and I think that's a shame where they're feeling—not supplying the time to their children. I happen to know that you can work full-time and still spend a lot of time with your child. It takes a little bit of extra effort, and maybe you go to bed an hour earlier, but you can do it. There's too many of us that have done it.

I don't have the answers, and I don't think anybody has all the answers. But at least we're opening up a dialogue, and I think that's the important thing. And to bring it on the national level, and I think that's important, for a dialogue to start speaking and addressing why we have violence. That's probably the most important thing that we can do.

Mr. Poland. Mrs. McCarthy, I wanted to say that I am familiar with the Project Achieve program. It was developed by school psychologists. It is a school-wide program that improves discipline in the school climate and teaches kids to solve a problem. And there are excellent programs like that that are available, but they're not going to be implemented in all of our schools or—in fact—many schools unless legislators tell them that it is important, and it is what must be done.

Mrs. McCarthy of New York. And I think a number of us—certainly after the committee meetings and everything else—will be probably looking forward to that to answer that, and that means, obviously, money.

Mr. Greenwood. Thank you. We're going to—since there are three of us left, we're going to—we've decided—the ranking Member and I have decided, we'll give ourselves each one more chance to answer a question, and ask a question. And we'll try to be fairly strict with the time for the next 15 minutes here.

I'd like to address my question to Dr. Poland—and, again, because of your particular experience—in looking at this recent rash of horrific incidences of firearms, violence in schools, and looking at some of the—turning away from the media for a moment, and turning away from the school environment, and turning back to the home environment from which these kids came, I'd like to ask you; did you—is it your observation, and anyone else who has made a study of this—that there was any single component within the family that seemed to be a common denominator? Whether it was these kids had been abused or whether it was—there had been a failure to establish a significant emotional bond with an adult in the children's lives, or anything else, from a sort of a socio-psychological perspective, that seemed to be a factor that took these kids out of the envelope—if you will—and out of the margins?

Mr. Poland. Mr. Greenwood, that's a very difficult question to answer because these families are not sharing much information understandably, and any information that I might have would be confidential and somewhat speculative.

I do think we have to recognize that, in most of these incidences we were talking about, the families had the guns and the families did not keep those guns out of the hands of their children. So that is one uniform—not true in every single case, not true in Paducah, but true in the other cases—and the other important information, I'm afraid, the families are not going to share with us.

Mr. Greenwood. Any of the other members care to comment on or respond to that question?

Mr. Stephens. Much of what we've seen in—at least individual cases that I have looked at have been, simply, parents who did not keep in touch with their children. It's interesting, even in Paducah, Kentucky, the youngsters there, they were truant from school—something that, hopefully, a parent would know—I'm sorry, in Jonesboro was the case.

When you look at shootings that have occurred in some of the other cities, it's been situations where parents simply have not monitored their children that closely; so the role the parents can play and establishing some parent centers on the campus could, certainly, be a way to intervene in some of these cases where there appears to be greater level of supervision.

Mr. Greenwood. I must tell you that I'm intrigued by your notion of sort of using the model of the National Transportation Safety Board. I recognize that, in these incidences, we would have to wait until trials are completed and then we would—there's the process of gaining the cooperation of both the perpetrators and the families and so forth. But it is an intriguing notion to me that a research project—federally funded, if you will—would make a very rigorous analysis of these incidences because we really do have to learn from them.

It is just irresponsible for us, as a nation, to allow these kinds of things to occur in our midst, and then shrug our shoulders and come to the conclusion that we can't come to an conclusion. I think we have to learn from these, and we have to act on what we learn. Mr. Scott.

Mr. Scott. Thank you. Dr. Poland, one of the problems we have with the incidences that have been recently reported is the copycat phenomenon. What kind of intervention is appropriate on the scene and nationally to prevent the incident from repeating itself?

Mr. Poland. Mr. Scott, that's a difficult question. I think we all question, "Do we have to have such excessive news coverage?" I know it upsets everyone to see the perpetrator in Edinboro in the police car laughing. I think we have to look, not only on our coverage of the actual event, but I think we have to look at the fictional things that, also, our children view. And it's a combination of those things, and I think we all hope that there will not be further events. But, we've had these occur together, and it's very difficult to know what will be next.

Mr. Scott. Is it appropriate for teachers in other localities to use this as a teaching moment to try to take advantage and make some progress, or is that counter-productive?

Mr. Poland. Absolutely. I believe that—

Mr. Scott. Absolutely, what?


Mr. Poland. —it should be used as a teaching moment. In my own school district, when I returned to Jonesboro, they gathered hundreds of sixth graders who wanted to know about the incident and what I did to help other people, and the teachers were able to tie it all the way back to, "You know those units that we had on managing anger and managing impulsive behavior? These are the things that are important to do when you're having violent thoughts."

I believe it is certainly a very teachable moment throughout the country. Every school child in America is aware, and we need to all work together. First of all, I'm learning to report dangerous behavior, guns on campus, and in working towards every child being better able to solve their problems.

Mr. Scott. Dr. Cantor.

Ms. Cantor. Yes; I would just like to suggest that it's very important to make these teachable moments age appropriate to the children. And one thing that television news doesn't do, it doesn't take into account that a lot of very young children are seeing this coverage which is frenzied and overblown. When things like this happen, it's important for schools to, maybe, take the information in a gentler dose and bring it to the level of the child's age. Otherwise, we find—I find in my research, enormous numbers of children with nightmares and not wanting to go to school after they see news coverage of this type of event.

Mr. Scott. What can we do about it?

Mr. Poland. Well, I'd like to make one comment—and I certainly agree—and I will tell you when I was in Jonesboro, what bothered me the most was hearing the 911 call, the incredible emotionality and the fear and pain over and over on the television days after the incident. And that is the time when we should have been running features; how can we help each other move forward on the new path for this community instead of repeating the horror of the moment.

Mr. Scott. Dr. Patterson, you indicated that we needed more studies on prevention. Are you familiar with studies on Three Strike and You're Out?

Mr. Patterson. Yes.

Mr. Scott. And that they concluded that they was a waste of money?

Mr. Patterson. The California review by the Rand Corporation concluded that it was an extremely expensive program and one that was going to bankrupt the State of California as well as the rest of us.

Mr. Scott. And that same study concluded that parental education was a much better "bang for the buck?"

Mr. Patterson. The parent training therapies, yes.

Mr. Scott. Yes. Thank you.

Mr. Patterson. By the way, there is a group that in the State of Washington called together for the same purpose—I mean—what are we going to do in the State of Washington? And they're evaluating all of the treatment and prevention programs they can find and carrying out a cost-utility analysis. I submitted that with the papers, and that might be useful to you.

Mr. Greenwood. Thank you, and we have been joined by the gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Payne, who is recognized for five minutes.

Mr. Payne. Thank you very much. I apologize for missing most of the testimony. I've heard some of the response, but I could not think of anything that's more important at this time than what you all have presented.

As a former schoolteacher in Newark, Passaic, and New Jersey—often elementary, middle school, and in secondary school—I know—and that was some time ago—of problems that we did have. But today, they've simply been exacerbated, I think, by the—and I might just ask a question there. Those who say that what's seen on television has no impact on young people, that it's—some defenders of those shows say that they feel that it has no negative impact. Could you ask—if you haven't done it already—would you give me a response to that—any of you or all of you, please?

Ms. Cantor. Well, we have—I will just summarize what I said earlier. There's just an overwhelming amount of research that shows that what children watch influences their behavior. And watching a lot of television violence over the course of a child's life is associated with becoming more violent or becoming desensitized to violence. And, also, even immediately after viewing, children often imitate what they see. It's not just—it's not true only of violence, but violence is prominent on television, and it's shown in ways that's designed to promote imitation.

Mr. Poland. I'd like to say that I agree totally with that statement, and I think that if we ever have the national study after the fact and really get to work with those children and families, that we'll be able to specify exactly which program, exactly which movie gave them the idea and led them to commit that particular violent act.

Mr. Stephens. It's not only the movies and the media but, also, sometimes the other books that different ones read. It's been interesting to look at, in a couple of the cases, where particular writings of various authors such as Stephen King have had a dramatic influence upon students. That's not to say we can control now everything that young people read, but I think we just have to be aware of some of the other factors that are out there that come to play in some of these school violence incidents.

Mr. Payne. Thank you. I'd just like to also mention that, you know, being a First Amendment supporter, I feel that when it was written it really served a real—so useful purpose, and it still does. I don't get concerned about a First Amendment right to show these violent and some of the lyrics of words of some of the music that comes out and young people hear. I'm opposed to this question about right to bear arms. I think we need to take another look at opposition to gun control that the proliferation of weapons are around and I think that we're wrong by saying, "Well, the Constitution once said that there's a right to bear arms and, therefore, it's all right for 11-year-olds to stand outside a school and mow people down with automatic weapons." Things have changed, and I think we need to look at that.

And, also, finally, the change—in 1973, I was national president of the YMCA of the USA, and I testified before Senator Birch Bayh, who at that time initially introduced the Juvenile Justice, Delinquency, and Prevention Act which it was called at that time. I came back four years later for the re-authorization when Senator Culver from Iowa was in the Chair then, and the whole thrust of that time was the prevention of delinquency. It was trying to work.

Now, of course, I don't know the new name, it certainly doesn't deal that much with prevention. I think that, as public policy people, we have a responsibility to try to deal with intervention and try to get parents involved, to try to talk about mentoring, but this whole punitive thing about, "Three strikes, you're out. Lock them up for good." The question about things that happen in inner cities—you know—we've seen when drugs first came about it was just an inner city problem. It didn't bother anybody else. Now we have an epidemic. The whole question about guns and delinquent youth, that's an inner-city problem, so just lock them up or forget about it.

Well, you know, things continue to grow out. And now we see some of the most horrendous problems dealing with these things happening in the suburbs. Just looking at the names with the endings in the "o," the "boros," it gives a connotation of a pleasant, peaceful, tranquil—none of the problems of those cities, but unless we deal with the problems, uniformly, wherever, whomever, or whatever group they impact on initially, it simply just grows and grows like a cancer and it will finally consume the whole body politic.

Thank you. I think my time has expired.

Mr. Greenwood. Thank you. I would like to, on behalf of the entire Subcommittee, thank each of the witnesses for joining us and for your testimony. We all understand how difficult it is to compress a life's body of knowledge into a relatively short period of time. We want you to know that this is not the end of our dialogue. We hope we can rely upon you for future consultation. We hope that you will feel free to send us additional comments or suggestions or recommendations, because this panel does not intend to leave this issue at the end of today's hearing.

So thank you again, and you are dismissed.

We'd like to call Dr. Rodney Hammond to the witness table. He is the director for the Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Hammond, we thank you for waiting so patiently to join us, and we look forward to your testimony.

And without further interruption, we'd like you to begin, please.


Mr. Hammond. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am Dr. Rodney Hammond, director of the Division of Violence Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and I'm quite pleased to be here today to discuss what we know about youth violence, some ways we can intervene, even how to prevent it, and how the public health approach can contribute to the prevention of youth violence.

First, what we know; although there's been a slight decrease in the national rates of youth homicides since 1993, the number of young people who die violently remains unacceptably high. Homicide is the second leading cause of death for young Americans between the ages of 15 and 24 and the leading cause of death for African Americans in this age group. And for children ages 10 to 14, homicide is the third leading cause of death.

Now, violence in school settings has been, in the past, relatively uncommon. As Dr. Stephens mentioned earlier in his testimony, between 1992 and 1994 less than one percent of violence-related deaths—that includes both homicide and suicide—occurred in or around schools. However, the problems in Jonesboro, Paducah, Pearl, and most recently, in Edinboro, cause us to focus on school-related youth violence now.

What is troubling is that there appears to be an increase in school-associated incidents with multiple deaths in the past three years. And I have a time-line at the end of my statement which lays out the number of multiple deaths that have occurred in the last three years, and that amplifies my point about the increase.

Now, we don't have all of the answers yet that will prevent more incidence of school or community youth violence, but I feel we do know enough to act now. And I'd like to make just four points in this regard.

First, this is a problem, largely, of children killing children. What's shocking about these incidences is the age of the perpetrators and the victims, between 13 and 14 years of age. In recent years, the average age of homicide offenders and victims has grown younger and younger. Data suggests that youth violence has become worse—not because children are fighting a lot more—but because their assaults have become more lethal.

Second, the problem is not limited to inner cities. The recent school shooting in small towns have countered the stereotype that so many of us previously may have had that youth violence is an inner city gang-related problem. In fact, while youth homicide rates in major urban areas have dropped in recent years, rates in mid-sized urban areas are constant, and even increasing in some areas.

Third, homicides are only the tip of an iceberg in terms of youth violence. There's an underlying layer of violent behavior that should concern us, both for its own sake and as a precursor to lethal violence. According to CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a national survey of high school students in 1995, 40 percent of high school students reported being in at least one physical fight in the past 12 months, 20 percent reported carrying a weapon at least once in the previous 30 days, and nearly 8 percent carried a gun. Approximately one-half of the students who reported carrying a weapon also reported carrying the weapon at school.

Fourth, the majority of school violence appears to occur among acquaintances, not strangers. The 1992 to 1994 School-Associated Violence study found that 85 of the 105 deaths resulted from interpersonal disputes, not random violence inflicted by strangers. In other words, the young person's inability to handle anger, perceived provocation or rejection by friends too often fuels a violent and often lethal response.

What can we do about this problem now? There are actions we can take now that could have a tremendous impact. We could increase programmatic efforts to prevent young people from using anger or any kind of force as a response to interpersonal problems. And we can prevent the escalation of violent behavior into lethal actions. Prevention research indicates that many strategies have promise such as parenting programs that focus on parents of young children and school-based training that enhances students' social and problem-solving skills. Recent evaluations of such programs confirmed that they do have an impact on reducing aggressive behavior and violent acts. This past spring, the Journal of the American Medical Association described the evaluation of a school-based violence prevention program showing a reduction of physical aggression and fighting in the school and its surroundings.

This finding added to the growing list of youth violence prevention strategies that we're supporting at CDC and appear to be making a difference. For example, an earlier report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine described CDC youth violence prevention products—projects, and the preliminary results of the school-based projects such as Peace Builders which is based in Tucson, Arizona, and the Richmond program are a good indication that strategies such as creating a culture of peace in the schools and developing positive adult role models within the school or teaching alternative methods to deal with violence in with the students in school settings are, indeed, effective.

What does public health offer? Together with education, law enforcement, and the other sectors, public health can make an important contribution to preventing youth violence. We're pursuing projects in the following areas: quality, school-based violence prevention. Schools need to know about effective violence prevention programs. Many schools have programs that are not based on the best scientific knowledge and some that have programs that are based on good scientific knowledge are not implementing them as designed. This needs to be addressed.

Parenting programs—parenting programs are important, because the behavior of adults in the home can have an enormous influence on children, and parenting skills training can make a difference in preventing violence and anti-social behavior. We need to find ways to reach out to very high-risk youth. Many youth are not accessible in traditional setting such as schools. We need to support implementation of efforts to identify and recruit high-risk youth into programs intended to reduce the risk of violence.

So, violence is with us, regrettably, still. The recent school-associated killings should cause us to redouble our efforts at prevention. The time to take action is now. And along with our partners in other Federal agencies, such as the Department of Justice and Education, I think the public health community can make a substantial contribution to preventing violence among children.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony, and I'm happy to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.



Mr. Greenwood. Thank you very much, Dr. Hammond, for your testimony and for—again, for your patience with us this afternoon.

Yesterday I visited an elementary school in the school district where I grew up, and it happened to be we were celebrating a program for National Turn Off the Television Week—Dr. Cantor will be happy to know that—and we were giving out some certificates, and so forth, to the kids. And I spoke with a woman who was the principal of the school, and she had been with that school district teaching and in various administrative roles for 25 years. And I asked her if she had noticed a change in the children over that 25 years. And she immediately answered, "Yes." Now this is in a upper-middle class community where the teachers at the top end of the scale are paid $80,000-some dollars a year. This is—every lawn is nicely trimmed, and this is the, sort of, model American community. And she said the difference is that these kids are bringing all kinds of methodology in from the home to the classroom. And I said, "Even here? Here in Holland, Pennsylvania?" And she said, "Yes."

I noticed that a lot of your recommendations were for school-based programs, and I made some comments about the value that, I think, the school-based programs can have. There are two sets of comments you hear from teachers. One is, "Gosh, we've got to deal with all this stuff coming in from the home." And, two, "Why do you legislators keep telling us to teach, adding to our curriculum? You want us to teach this and then that, and then this, and then basic science, and basic math, and then you want us to teach the kids values at the same time. The school day isn't long enough."

So I just would like you to respond to that. How, without lengthening the school day, how do we in good conscience tell our teachers; make these kids competitive internationally in the basics, teach them social values and peace keeping and all of that? Is that—are those expectation reasonable? Do we need to completely change the model of the way we educate the children if we're going to do all of this in the school?

Mr. Hammond. Thank you for the question, it's—and you raise a very complicated issue about how much can we burden the existing school structure with broader agenda items that affect society—and in violence that's certainly one of those. Actually, we've seen a number of very good examples of adoption of violence prevention programs in school settings which the schools tell us don't seem to overburden them. For one thing, a lot of curriculum development is going on that eases the opportunity for teachers to work with boys and girls in the classroom in a limited amount of time and not imposing on the other elements of the curriculum to deal with things like conflict resolution, how we deal with anger, the meaning of violence.

The other point I would like to make is that doing good violence prevention programs in a school setting doesn't necessarily mean it all has to happen in the classroom. The Peace Builders project, which I alluded to, actually does a very good job and with firm outcome data by working with those outside of the classroom including the building principal, the counselors, and the kids, themselves, in spot events outside of the classroom day to build a positive environment that gives peace messages and suggests alternative ways of responding.

In some cases for high-risk—I think—communities, it will be necessary to supplement the teaching personnel with school psychologists, counselors, etc., who can implement some of the programs and techniques that we know work very well, but for which the training that is more common to the school psychologist will be better suited to implement the program. And I think that these things are very adaptable.

Last point; we, already, in schools build into the curriculum in many states a requirement for health education. That already happens, particularly, in the middle school environments and beyond. What not reserve some of that time to deal with what is getting to be one of the number one health problems we face in the Nation, violence prevention?

Mr. Greenwood. Do you think that might be as important as naming the bones in the body?


Of course, we need practitioners who are capable of doing that.

Thank you, sir. Mr. Scott.

Mr. Scott. Thank you, Dr. Hammond. You mentioned a lot of programs. Are there any components or elements that are common to the successful programs?

Mr. Hammond. Yes. The strategies that we've seen that seem to cut across successful programs—and I might add, we are still evaluating and we're finding more and more about what works to prevent violence—seem to involve a number of elements. Programs that focus, again, on the basic skills that children can use to respond appropriately rather than violently to a sense of provocation. Most children don't get in any kind of organized way an opportunity to learn how to cope and manage anger which is a very normal response to provocation. But we don't actually teach how to manage it. Nowadays, it turns out, that is probably one of the things that we can do to prevent children from choosing the option of violence, and very good program emphasis anger management, skills building, mild assertion skills, ways of talking through a problem without having to resort to violence, and for high-risk youth, programs that feature intensive interaction with the boys and girls in a very, very rich setting in terms of the opportunity to interact with responsible adults seem to be helpful, too.

Mr. Scott. How much do these initiatives cost?

Mr. Hammond. I don't have exact figures on that for you, Mr. Scott.

Mr. Scott. Well, let me put it in perspective. A couple of years ago, Virginia passed a prison construction plan that will cost, after the prisons are built, about $100 million dollars per congressional district per year which multiplies out to about $30 to $50 billion dollars nationally. I mean, are you talking anything that would compete with this kind of funding?

Mr. Hammond. Not at all. These programs would cost far less.

Mr. Scott. I mean, you're talking about funding that would be lost in rounding off to what we're willing to spend on prisons after we've ignored the problem. Is that essentially true?

Mr. Hammond. I'm not sure I understand the question.

Mr. Scott. I mean, I mean for a couple of billion dollars you could fund everything you've got in this—

Mr. Hammond. Well—

Mr. Scott. —in your presentation.

Mr. Hammond. Certainly that amount would fund a lot of programs. There's no question about it.

Mr. Scott. And the program that we funded in Virginia didn't promise to reduce crime by any statistically significant amount, and it breezed through our legislature about a 90 to 10—90 percent vote.

Mr. Hammond. Right.

Mr. Scott. Do you have evidence to show that if we cut the trajectory towards violence that we can significantly reduce the incidents of violence? Dr. Patterson mentioned you can pretty much track what's going on. And if you can cut that anywhere along the lines, do you have evidence to show that that makes a difference?

Mr. Hammond. Dr. Patterson's work is noted and well-respected by us at CDC and the others. And there's no question that early intervention programs seem to make a difference. We have—the evidence is growing. Some studies, because they take a long time—if they intervene early—to get to the point when you see very, very high risk to prove their results. And so, I would say that the evidence is very, very promising that early intervention programs which can be implemented in schools, especially, make a difference, yes.

Mr. Scott. And the research on treating juveniles as adults is fairly clear that the juveniles will get less punishment, and the crime rate will go up. That evidence is fairly well established, too, isn't it?

Mr. Hammond. I'm not precisely familiar with all of the studies that you may be referring to.

Mr. Scott. Do you know any study that suggests that treating juveniles as adults will reduce crime?

Mr. Hammond. No, I don't.

Mr. Scott. Are you familiar with the studies on Three Strikes and You're Out that conclude that that's a waste of money?

Mr. Hammond. I'm not intimately familiar with those studies, but I certainly am aware of the summary results.

Mr. Scott. And so, if you had a couple of extra billion dollars, you'd want to put it into effective programs to reduce crime?

Mr. Hammond. Certainly, we're interested in prevention at CDC. We think resources directed at prevention programs in the long run will make the biggest difference.

Mr. Greenwood. The gentleman from New Jersey for five minutes.

Mr. Payne. Thank you very much. When it gets to domestic violence, people say it's very difficult to predict when crimes will occur. You've indicated that these recent crimes have been committed by people who know each other, therefore, would you conclude that it will be as difficult to predict and, therefore, perhaps to actually prevent these kinds of crimes if things remain the same?

Mr. Hammond. Quite the contrary. I think our best hope for prevention is in dealing with the type of violence that's associated with people who know each other and that get into arguments because there we know—if you can gather from the testimony previously given—a lot about what we can do to intervene early with relationship issues, if you will. And I think that is our greatest hope in contrast to the prevention of other types of violence committed by strangers. That seems more in the domain, strictly of control in law enforcement.

Mr. Payne. So you feel that, perhaps, in the schools—as you indicated before—that more attention should be paid to this whole sort of violence prevention and to look at the areas or programs that are working?

Mr. Hammond. Absolutely, I really do. Yes.

Mr. Payne. Just some questions, too—it's been indicated by Representative Scott—we hear about the cost of facilities. I've got some information here that says a typical juvenile correction facility costs $102,000 per bed to build. That's not talking about running it once it's in. The question of the fact that in 1994, statistics—and I assume it's higher now—that there are nearly 200 million firearms in American homes—200 million, almost one for every person in the country, maybe 50 million short, but these are 1994 statistics. I wouldn't be surprised if it's caught up to the population. And the fact that we have seen in the new Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act—that I call it—that there is the move to have young people incarcerated with adult prisoners, to let them stay in an adult facility for longer periods of time when statistics show that children in adult prisons are eight times more likely to commit suicide. And so I just wonder, in our public policy that we see here today, do I simply read these things differently since the move is to put them in with adults, the move is to allow weapons to continue to proliferate our society?

Well, I guess it's hard to ask the question because, you know, the answers are really—to me—so basically clearly. But—well maybe I'll ask this; what do you think a person like myself would believe that these things are going in the wrong direction? How can we educate, perhaps, more people to understand that these things are public policy going in the wrong direction, and that we should take a look at it and, perhaps, change?

Mr. Hammond. I'm not sure that I can answer your question, Mr. Payne. Many of the things you refer to are, in some ways, a response that society has to protect itself. Our main interest is to see that prevention is supported. Youth violence prevention works. There are things that we can do, on the prevention side, before we ever have to address those broader issues and policy questions that you refer to. And I think that we should. There's no reason that we shouldn't. These incidents certainly give us a chance now to focus in that way.

Mr. Scott. Thank you.

Mr. Greenwood. Thank the gentleman. The gentlelady from New York for further inquiry.

Mrs. McCarthy of New York. Thank you. Going along with the lines of prevention—and I think almost everybody here agrees—that prevention to me is the best medicine. I mean—and it doesn't matter whether its violence, common cold, anything. Prevention is still the number one issue. And I would like to kind of comment with Mr. Payne. I think sometimes here—especially in this legislative body, not here, but the whole body—people look at it politically. We're too soft on crime, and that's too bad because prevention, I do believe, will work longer long-term than being soft on crime. I'm not soft on crime. You do violence, you do the time. But, again, we have to reach out to our young people, and I think that's the most important thing we can do.

This is probably side-tracked a little bit. You said homicides are down in this country. Is that among with young people, also?

Mr. Hammond. Yes, "Down," I said, "slightly." There's an 11 percent decrease since 1993 in the homicide rates for ages 15 to 19, and a similar slight decrease for the younger ages. However, you have to put that in context. The overall homicide rates are very, very, very high when you compare the U.S. to other industrialized countries.

Mrs. McCarthy of New York. Oh, now that I know.


Mrs. McCarthy of New York. Just out of curiosity, has anyone done a study—because I can probably name three or four people that I know that were involved in homicides but they survived. Is anyone doing studies along those lines?

Mr. Hammond. I'm not familiar. There may be someone. I'm not familiar with such studies.

Mrs. McCarthy of New York. Okay. Thank you.

Mr. Greenwood. Thank the gentle lady.

Dr. Hammond, thank you again very much for your testimony. We appreciate your words of wisdom this afternoon.

Mr. Hammond. Thank you.

Mr. Greenwood. And you are excused.

I had said earlier that I would offer the opportunity for any of the young people who are with us and who have patiently listened to all this testimony, if they would—if any one of you thinks you would like to take this opportunity to offer this panel some words of your wisdom from your perspective, we would welcome your comments. Have any of you decided to choose that option?

Yes, sir. Well, you two gentlemen are welcome to come to the table with the unanimous consent of the Subcommittee. And if you gentlemen would identify—give us your names and where you're from and we'll start with the gentleman in the green shirt.




Mr. Gaskin. All right. My name's Justin Gaskin. I'm from Moorecroft, Wyoming, which is a very small town of about 800 in the northeastern part of the State.

Mr. Greenwood. And the other gentleman?

Mr. Sundstrom. My name's Kevin Sundstrom. I'm also from Moorecroft, Wyoming.

Mr. Greenwood. Okay, and what would you like to recommend to this Subcommittee?

Mr. Sundstrom. My personal view on the issue, I believe that a lot of the juvenile crime is related to home issues. I believe that Congressman Roemer suggests a good issue when a lot of it is family-based. And when we look at a lot of the crime, a lot of it is committed with guns, and so forth, but I think there's problems in the home that can drive people to go and use guns.

And I think that a lot of the solutions should tend to be family based, because when kids grow up in families that teach good morals and they teach good things. I don't think that the media will have an effect on children, because if they're taught good morals and so forth, I believe that they can grow up and watch bad shows and it shouldn't have any effect on them because they've been taught well throughout their family. In, whereas, they've been trying to have schoolteachers teach morals in school, I think it's not really the school's place to teach morals. I think it's a home-based issue where morals and values should be taught. And I think that the best way to address the issue would be through family-and home-based solution.

Mr. Greenwood. Thank you, sir. And if I can offer an editorial opinion; the gentleman's words are well made and well taken. I think part of the struggle for this committee is what to do with the kids who come from families where those values are not taught at home and where society takes over.

Yes, sir?

Mr. Gaskin. Okay. Listening to all of these comments, one fact remains, is that juvenile crime is a problem and it has to be faced by Congress, by the American people, to try to find the solution. But as we look at the problem, we see that it's not really one certain rite, or one cause of it. There's many types of the causes. We see that many states have identified links on juvenile crime to poverty to media and the violence, guns at home, the lack of morals in the home. And I think what has to be done is, you know, there can be initiatives made by Congress that, you know, focuses on juvenile crime, but there has to be, you know, in my opinion, there has to be other factors. I mean, poverty has to be also looked at, too, and that has to be addressed. There, you know, handgun laws or assault weapon laws also have to be enforced better. Media and the violence has to be enforced. And I don't know if Congress can do all of those at once, but I think in order to solve the juvenile crime problem, they have to be addressed all at one time to get the solution.

Mr. Greenwood. Well, I thank both of you gentleman for your courage and your poise and, also, for showing us that there—you're typical of most American young people who are, in fact, well raised and composed of good values, and a reflection of what's good about our school systems. You gentleman may be excused.

Mr. Gaskin. All right. Thanks a lot for the opportunity.

Mr. Greenwood. I thank all the members for your participation.

If you gentleman would give your names to the clerk, that would be helpful. Thank all the members for—

Mr. Payne. I think there's a lady that would like to speak there. This little girl in the—

Mr. Greenwood. Oh, we have some additional witnesses.

Mr. Payne. I wouldn't want anyone to think you were disregarding the ladies—


I mean that's not your nature, I know.


Mr. Greenwood. I'm the father of two daughters. I have learned to not to disregard females.




Ms. Hair. Thank you. My name is Oriana Hair, and I'm from Albany, California, which is a small town outside of Berkeley.

Ms. Greenberg. I'm Marisa Greenberg, and I'm from Albany, also.

Ms. McNicholas. Hi, my name is Bridget McNicholas, and I'm from Chicago, Illinois. I'm a junior at the University of Notre Dame.

Mr. Farnsworth. I'm Seth Farnsworth and also from Moorecroft, Wyoming, like the other two.

Mr. Greenwood. Okay. Why don't we start with the young lady on the far right?

Ms. McNicholas. First of all, I just wanted to thank you and commend you on the importance you're placing on the spiritual and moral development of children and that the importance that spiritual and moral development plays in violence prevention. And, I just want to say that I probably come from not a typical family because my mom's a social worker and my dad's an attorney and they both do divorce mediation. Well, they mediate together. And, so much of what I've grown up with is my parents teaching us proper ways of communicating and—because that's what they do for a living—and proper conflict resolution.

And, as I get older, I can see with my friends and with other people I'm involved with in the community service I do at Notre Dame, that people don't know how to communicate with each other a lot of times. And what is mild for them at home or from adults is what they learn and what—and that is how they act. And so I think it's very important that emphasis be placed on parenting classes and parenting skills and teaching parents how to resolve conflict in the home, because so much of what young people see and learn is what their parents teach them. So, I think that's really—importance should be placed on that, on the parenting.

Ms. Greenberg. I was listening earlier and a lot—someone said that morals should be taught in school, but who's to say that the teachers' morals are going to be what should be taught? And I also think that—you know—it should come from the home, but if it's not, then like myself, personally, I found it from a coach or—you know—someone outside of the home who taught me—you know—what I should, well not what I should, but what she thought. And I respected her views, and so I learned a lot of my opinions from her. And so, who's to say that my teacher's going to have the same opinion?

And also, that a lot of—there's also an emphasis on kids hiding what happens at school and—you know—they saw the gun but they didn't say anything. There's was a drive-by at my school. It's a very small school—900 kids. There was a drive-by and nobody reported it for three weeks because they didn't want people to know what was going on. And the administrators didn't know about it, the staff didn't know about it, the kids—a lot of the kids didn't know about it. I was at work and a teacher came up to me and said, "Hey, do you know what happened with this? Because, you know, nobody's releasing any details to us, and we don't know." And then it all came out, but who's to say—you know—why they didn't tell. And then—okay, go.

Ms. Hair. I think the problem is seeded in the home, but you can't solve everything in one place, and it needs to be taken on by the public schools. And I've seen great, great strides taken in peer mediation where students, themselves, are taught how to deal with talking to other students and deal with their emotions, and I find that's a really great program.

Mr. Greenwood. Thank you. Yes, sir?

Mr. Farnsworth. I also think it goes back to the home and the idea of appeasement and giving in to a child's demands, and it starts at a young age. And then the child begins to be more and more self-centered on themselves instead of other people and thinking more about themselves instead of their peers and the rest of the people around them. And then, when something bad happens to them in a more public place where their parents or guardians aren't there to appease them or give them what they want, then they take their actions out on their peers or people around them. And that's why, I think, that it goes back to the home, but you can't fix every home in America, so you have to also bring it into schools and make it as public as possible.

Thank you.

Mr. Greenwood. Well, thank the four of you for your very valued testimony. We appreciate your willingness to do that. Thank you.

Again, thank the members of the panel for your participation. This is a profound issue. We are not going to walk away from it this afternoon. We will return to this issue and look forward to working with other members of this committee towards developing some solutions. Thank you.


This Committee meeting is adjourned.

[Whereupon, at 4:30 P.M., the Subcommittee adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.]