February 6, 2001

More Information

 • loss of temper on a daily basis
 • frequent fighting
 • significant vandalism or property damage
 • increase in use of drugs or alcohol
 • increase in risk-taking behavior
 • detailed plans to commit acts of violence
 • announcing threats or plans for hurting others
 • hurting animals
 • carrying a weapon


Related topics


Contact: Steven Lee, School of Education, (785) 864-9701.

KU students work on preventing violence in area schools

LAWRENCE -- In the halls of area high schools, University of Kansas graduate students in school psychology see warning signs of violence daily.

"It's the small things that can push someone over the line," said Jason Rehfeldt, a KU education student preparing to be a school psychologist. "There is a line between being a normal adolescent and one who is prone to violent behavior.

"I see lots of provocation -- swearing, disrespect, sexual harassment, pushing," Rehfeldt said.

Rehfeldt is one of six KU graduate education students working with area secondary school students and parents to prevent violence. The KU students are working in the Atchison County, Blue Valley, DeSoto, Jefferson County, Kansas City, Kan., Lawrence, Louisburg and Paola school districts.

Under the direction of Steven W. Lee, director of KU's School Psychology Program, the six KU students are completing a one-year practicum requirement. "The KU students are excited about the opportunity to implement prevention programs in their schools and communities," Lee said.

"This is a prevention effort," Rehfeldt said. "To our knowledge, no one has presented this program in the Kansas City metropolitan area."

As graduate students, the KU students practice under the guidance of a certified school psychologist. Helping teens recognize warning signs for violent behavior is a special project that evolved from a course the six KU students took last semester.

Using a video package of materials produced by MTV and the American Psychological Association, the KU students offer school students tips on recognizing the potential for violence and where to seek help if they recognize warning signs in others or in themselves.

Warning signs for potential violent behavior may include:

 • loss of temper on a daily basis
 • frequent fighting
 • significant vandalism or property damage
 • increase in use of drugs or alcohol
 • increase in risk-taking behavior
 • detailed plans to commit acts of violence
 • announcing threats or plans for hurting others
 • hurting animals
 • carrying a weapon

The 20-minute video "Warning Signs," produced in 1999 by MTV and the American Psychological Association, reviews cases of violent behavior that involve a school shooting, a teenage suicide and a teenager who learns to channel anger into a positive force.

The video is a tool to initiate discussion that the KU students will guide. Ideally, the program includes students, parents and the entire community, Rehfeldt said. In the video, psychologist Russ Newman notes, "Violence is a learned behavior, and, like any learned behavior, it can be changed. In order to do that, though, it is important to recognize the warning signs of violence and to get help before a violent act occurs."

A brochure advises, "The key to really preventing violent behavior is asking an experienced professional for help. The most important thing to remember is don't go it alone."

The KU graduate students and the school district to which they are assigned are:

 • Mandy D. Goodnight, USD 497, Lawrence;
 • Amanda L. Henry, USD 232, DeSoto;
 • Jason Rehfeldt, USD 500, Kansas City, Kan.;
 • Micheala Tyler, USD 384, Blue Valley;
 • Erin Wiggs, USD 368, Paola, and USD 416, Louisburg;
 • Amy McGregor, Northeast Kansas Education Service Center, serving seven school districts (USD 338, Valley Falls; USD 339, Jefferson County North; USD 340, Jefferson West; USD 341, Oskaloosa Public Schools; USD 342, McLouth; USD 343, Perry Public Schools; USD 377 Atchison County Community Schools).

-30-



This site is maintained by University Relations, the public relations office for the University of Kansas Lawrence campus. Copyright 2001, the University of Kansas Office of University Relations. Images and information may be reused with notice of copyright, but not altered. kurelations@ku.edu, (785) 864-3256.