Giving Teens a Voice

Reader's Guide

Reader's Guide

Dear Reader:

Please use this Readers Guide to save your time and to guide you to various portions of the findings from the Teen Think Tank on School Violence.

Is it possible to engage teenagers in a serious effort to identify the root causes of school violence and to develop strategies to deal with it? If so, will computer-aided group decision support tools add value to the process? Those are the questions we addressed with the 1998 Teen Think Tank on School Violence and the results of the initial experiment make for fascinating reading by anyone interested in the subject of school violence.

Using the GroupSystems Electronic Meeting System (EMS), sixteen teenagers grappled with the issue of school violence and generated more than 800 different ways to predict, prevent, avoid, protect, react, eliminate, or cope with youth violence. After brainstorming for ideas, they also used EMS to categorize, prioritize, and to reach consensus about their best ideas. They proceeded to develop recommendations, from a teenager's perspective, for students, parents, teachers, school administrators, and law enforcement officers. This was all accomplished in two EMS sessions of approximately 10 hours duration each. This report presents a synopsis of their findings and a brief description of the EMS process. To guide your reading, the key sections are described below:

  • The Preface (2 pages) will help you understand the EMS process by comparing the work the students did with a conventional approach that might have taken place in a standard classroom setting.
  • The Executive Overview (1 page) is the editors’ attempt to draw 33 detailed pages down to its essence.
  • The Summary (7 pages) captures the major themes the students developed.
  • The Students’ Best Ideas (26 pages) contains the results of the brainstorming, with their best ideas selected, ranked, and developed with student elaboration.
  • The Essays (14 pages), based on each of the ‘Best Ideas’ topics, were written outside the sessions and incorporated into this report. This section has some excellent teenage writing.
  • The Testimonials (8 pages) are the thoughts of the participants immediately following the last session and has contemporaneous, candid comments on the EMS process and the results.
  • The Appendix (23 pages) contains the unedited results of the brainstorming sessions. Many good ideas did not gain the consensus of the group. The editors felt that these ideas should be included in the report because they, in turn, might trigger creative thinking on the part of the reader.
Thank you for your time.

The Editors