Violence is like a virus. In its many forms — on the news, in movies, on television, and in print — it can insidiously infect our children. Mysteriously, though, this germ can be virulent in some and barely noticeable in others. Why do some children re-enact the violence they see on television and others do not? Why do some chronically-teased children develop a sense of self-loathing, while others plot to shoot their taunting peers? Why do some children who make these murderous plans actually act on them?

It's almost impossible to answer these questions. We can't always pinpoint what makes a child violent. But we do know that by cultivating a series of core strengths in our students we can offer them an antidote to the inescapable violence to which they're exposed. Each of the core strengths — attachment, self-regulation, affiliation, awareness, tolerance, and respect — is a building block in a student's emotional development. Together, they provide a strong foundation for his or her future health, happiness, and productivity.

For more on the six core strengths, see "Stop the Violence," the first in a series of violence-prevention pieces by Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D., in Instructor's October 2001 issue.