With recent mass shootings taking place across the country including the one in Uvalde, Texas at Robb Elementary School, it can be a concerning time as a parent worrying about your child’s safety.
Donna Bartos, mom of three and founder and CEO of BLOOM365—a non-profit organization focused on educating young people about healthy/unhealthy relationships, including dating violence and abuse—answers some pressing questions on violent and threatening behavior in children including what to be aware of as a parent, red flags to watch out for, and common risk factors.
What can concerned parents do?
- Know what signs (red flags) to look out for (see below).
- Assess your child’s risk factors for perpetrating violence (see below).
- Assess if any protective factors are missing in a child’s life. (A trusted adult, positive self-esteem, positive peer relationships, intolerance of violence at home and in their community, sense of belonging at school, desire to learn and achieve, empathy, coping skills, communication skills, etc.)
- Ensure your child’s Five Points of Well Being:
- Self-esteem and self-awareness
- Skill mastery (mastering something they love- such as creative art, a sport, community service, etc.)
- Safety (a home free of abuse and violence)
- Social Connectedness (feeling connected to their peers and community)
- Model respect, empathy and boundary setting at home and in your relationships.
- Teach your children how to communicate their feelings without aggression or violence.
- Empower your kids to talk to you by using LEVEL skills:
What are the Red Flags to be aware of?
- Poor academic performance and/or excessive absenteeism.
- Aggressive outbursts.
- Suicidal ideation/thoughts.
- Coercive, controlling or abusive behaviors toward peers and/or dating partners.
- Fascination with firearms, violence and/or terroristic activities.
- Talks about harming oneself or others in online posts, texts, drawings, journal writings and/or in conversations with peers/family members.
- Isolated and socially withdrawn.
- Non-compliance with rules.
- Exhibits possessive jealousy or stalking behaviors.
What are some common Risk Factors?
- Lack of parental support and supervision.
- History of bullying.
- Belief in rigid gender roles.
- Poor coping, communication or social skills.
- Experienced childhood trauma. (Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs).
- Exposure domestic/sexual violence.
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Association with violent peers.
- Maltreatment or instability as a child.
- Low self-esteem and/or sense of powerlessness.
- Access to a firearm.
- Lack of positive peer relationships.
- Friends, family, schools, communities that tolerate violence.
- Inability to show empathy for others.
- Isolated from support services.
How can parents get the help they may need if their child is experiencing any of the Red Flags or Risk Factors associated with violent or threatening behavior?
If your child demonstrates any of the Red Flag behaviors or Risk Factors, BLOOM365 is a local resource that can help – www.BLOOM365.org or call/text 1.888.606.4673 for a confidential and no cost assessment to see if your child could benefit from BLOOM’s counseling and intervention services.
About Donna Bartos:
For over three decades, Donna tucked away the sexual assault, domestic violence and dating abuse she was exposed to and experienced as a child, teen and young adult. In 2006, after serving in executive, consulting, fundraising, marketing and training capacities for non-profit human service, healthcare, DV/SA advocacy and higher education organizations, Donna founded BLOOM365: Bring Love On Others More, 365 Days A Year.
She is a mom of three children, holds a BA in Communications from McDainel College, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration from Grand Canyon University.
Donna has been recognized locally and nationally for developing, testing and scaling the “BringLove365” 5-Step strategy which turns teen dating/sexual violence prevention research and theory into practice.