FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 22, 2000
Contact: Janet Eveleth
MSBA PR (410) 685-7878 ext. 225

VOLUNTEER ATTORNEYS HELP SCHOOLS PREVENT VIOLENCE

--State Bar Offers School Violence Prevention Program in Every County--

Students in every county in Maryland face the potential threat of school violence every day. Today, one out of every eight students carries a weapon to school. During the 1998-99 school year, over 10,500 Maryland students were physically attacked at school, 2,679 were suspended for carrying weapons and 34,974 were suspended for physical attacks, threats and fighting, according to the Maryland State Department of Education. Students need to learn how to resolve conflicts before they escalate into violence.

To reduce the threat of violence in Maryland schools, the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) is launching a school violence prevention program in every school district in the state. Through this initiative, attorneys will volunteer in local county schools to help students, teachers and administrators deal with this problem. The volunteer attorneys will equip students with violence prevention techniques and dispute resolution skills to help them deal with, and resolve, every day conflicts before they erupt into violence.

MSBA and its volunteers will serve as a violence prevention resource for schools across the state, offering attorney mentoring, peer mediation skills, conflict dispute resolution techniques, "adopt a class" programs and other support services to help students and teachers prevent violence. Working with individual county school districts, MSBA will tailor a prevention program to meet the specific needs of each local jurisdiction. It will implement school violence prevention programs in counties where none exists and supplement county programs already underway.

To launch this statewide school violence prevention effort, MSBA is working with local school systems, county bar associations and the Citizenship Law-Related Education Program, its educational arm in state schools. On October 11, MSBA will sponsor a one-day conference at the Maritime Institute to officially kick off this initiative.

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