How To Fight Teen Violence

President Clinton issued some words of encouragement at Tuesday's Capitol Hill conference on youth violence, citing studies that show overall violence in American schools is declining. But, he said, even with the decline the dangers that American students face are unacceptable.

"No serious person believes that America is as safe as it ought to be," said Mr. Clinton. "And every day, every day we lose more than a dozen kids to violence."

Mr. Clinton was the keynote speaker at "Voices Against Violence," a conference sponsored by House Democrats, which was attended by hundreds of students from around the country, reports CBS News Chief White House Correspondent John Roberts.

Six months after the massacre at Columbine High, a new CBS News/New York Times poll shows that violence remains the number one concern among teens at school. And 53 percent of teens now believe an incident like Columbine could happen in their school.

In fact, new Department of Education statistics show that while homicides in general are down at school, mass killings have increased.

Columbine student Peter Henderson never used to think much about violence. He now says if a month goes by without a school shooting, he breathes a sigh of relief.

"I think there's a definite fear at schools," says Henderson, "because we're not dealing with bubble-gum ceiling problems that we once dealt with in public schools. We're dealing with life or death issues."

As the students discussed ways to defuse conflict, the CBS/Times poll showed that 22 percent of teens believe violence was a result of students being made fun of; and more than half (53 percent) report knowing of a group of "outcasts" in school who may be prone to violence.

The president has blasted Republicans for holding up new legislation to keep guns out of the hands of children and for trying to defeat his hate-crimes bill. Republicans complain that new laws aren't needed, just better enforcement of existing ones.

Both sides will get some new ideas Wednesday when students present their own proposal to Congress on how to curb youth violence.