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Anti-violence letter to Vermont students

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  • Kristie
    Just interesting to see how issues are addressed elsewhere. ... STATE OF VERMONT Vermont Department of Education 120 State Street Montpelier, VT 05620 March
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 31, 2005
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      Just interesting to see how issues are addressed elsewhere.




      Vermont Department of Education

      120 State Street

      Montpelier, VT 05620


      March 30, 2005


      To Vermont students,

      As many of us are, I am disturbed and saddened by events such as the Red Lake, Minnesota and

      Littleton, Colorado shooting incidents. I am writing to ask your help to prevent events such as

      these from happening in Vermont. As Commissioner of Education, one of my responsibilities is

      to work with school administrators, teachers, parents and law enforcement officials to make our

      schools safe places for you, your fellow students, and those working in the building. State Board

      of Education rules require every school to have a plan for dealing with emergencies of all kinds,

      including incidents involving weapons. We must ensure that you are aware of what to do in an

      emergency and why you should understand the content of your school emergency plans.


      However, I believe it is much more important for students and adults to work together to prevent

      weapons-related emergencies from ever happening in the first place. Unfortunately, even here in

      Vermont, students sometimes bring weapons to school or use them outside of school to injure

      themselves or others. We all need to do a better job of understanding why this is happening and

      how we can get involved to help these individuals and prevent terrible events from occurring.


      As a student, you are often aware of how others are feeling on any given day through your

      observations, conversations and interactions. If you feel that a fellow student is likely to become

      self-destructive or violent, I ask you to inform an adult in your school. I know that this request

      contradicts some of the rules of peer pressure – the ones that say don’t “rat” or “tattle” on a

      fellow student or “don’t get involved.” However, if you are well intended, reporting your

      concerns to an adult you trust is an attempt to help the individual, not to get them in trouble.

      Your action could also save lives.


      The pressures of growing up in Vermont today can be overwhelming. You are faced with issues

      that my generation did not experience at all or in the same way. Often, the reason that students

      bring weapons to school is that they have been driven to desperation and are responding to some

      real or perceived threat to their own safety, such as being victimized by bullies. Bullying should

      never be tolerated and students, as well as all adults, bear the responsibility for doing everything

      possible to prevent it. Even though bullying is a terrible act, we all know that a violent response,

      especially one involving a weapon, will not solve the problem.


      I need your help in convincing your fellow students that violence is not something we can

      tolerate in our communities. There is no happy ending for anyone when violence erupts in a

      school. There is

      always a better way of dealing with problems and I hope you will look for ways

      to help each other get the support and guidance you need. If you are a student who is feeling

      desperate, please seek assistance from your parents, a teacher, counselor, principal or other adult

      you trust.


      We in Vermont live in a relatively safe and secure environment, and I appreciate your help in

      making our schools even safer. Thank you for your help.

      Richard H. Cate

      Vermont Commissioner of Education

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