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Causes and Effects of Violence in Schools Essay

1.0 Report Objectives
Sacred Heart School is an education institution. The Headmaster Mr Keenan would like to know why violence exists in the school grounds and the effects of violence and what can be done to eliminate this. This report is an analysis of the causes and effects of violence and suggested solutions to reduce the percentage of violence that exists on the school grounds.

1.2 Historical Background

There are approximately 1500 students in this school, offering 8 different subjects. There are at least 5 teachers in each faculty, coming up to a total of 40 teachers. The percentage of violence that exists in the school grounds is steadily increasing, in different forms, between teachers as well as students, right from the Kindergarten classes up to the Advanced Level. The Headmaster of the school, Mr Zia Keenan wants this issue to be analysed deeply in order to draw up solutions to minimize violence.

1.3 Report Preview

Firstly, the causes of violence are analysed to understand the root of the problem. Secondly, the effects of violence are evaluated to understand how serious this problem is. Thirdly, various potential solutions are suggested that could help minimize the percentage of violence.

II. CAUSES
2.1 Abuse
One of the major aspects of violence in schools is bullying. This could be because of lack of supervision and monitoring of children and/or teachers. Another form of abuse is displayed in the way some cannot control sexual urges and hence make advances on others. In defense, the victim retaliates. Vandalism takes place as a way of expressing emotion. It is a way to get back at the school and dictating teachers or peers. Students may be looking for ways to redeem themselves from orthodox individuals who believe that the only way to discipline students is by being strict with them. In this way, violence takes place.

2.2 Exposure to violence and harmful substances or items

Exposure to violence influences one’s thoughts and actions. Weapons or dangerous toys like knives and pellet guns are easily available. This accessibility does little to prevent violence from taking place amongst individuals. Some individuals have been exposed to violence because they come from dysfunctional families or backgrounds. Exposure to violence, such as on television, video games, etc. as researched by Psychological Science in the Public Interest (Anderson, C. A. et al, 2003) leads to individuals imitating those acts. Hence they do not have proper judgment of what is right and wrong. They experiment with harmful substances which further damages this sense of discernment. “Easily available drugs add to the risk of violence.” (DHHS, 2001).

When a person is ‘under the influence’, they are not themselves and are unable to think rationally. This leads to fights, disputes etc. as individuals are not in total control of themselves. This is related to peer pressure as an individual may have tried these substances or items because others have egged them on. They may have also been encouraged to pick on others and take part in fights, through no will nor motive of their own. As a result of which fights, violence and abuse occurs.

2.3 Lack of information
Psychological problems hamper one’s way of life. They do not know how to deal with their raw emotions or self-related/emotional problems like stress and depression, for example. Some have biological problems, like ADD and Tourrette’s Syndrome. They cannot control their behavior. Other students may not understand this and reciprocate. Carol Miller Lieber, an educator at Washington University believes that violence in schools is a result of lack of information. Lack of information leads to conflict as individuals do not know how to solve problems that involve others, or their intolerance towards certain characteristics or behavior. They lack understanding. Therefore they take out their aggression on each other (Constitutional Rights Foundation, n.d.)

III. EFFECTS
3.1 More violence and disorder
The victims themselves turn into bullies. It is a never-ending cycle. If a person was bullied, then he reciprocates. They can also become social outcasts, which hamper their learning of lessons in school, as well as in life. Violence in school grounds creates barriers to learning as victims are afraid to go to school, and hence they drop out. Furthermore, such intolerance and lack of information can further grow into racism or discrimination. This can give way to legal issues. It has a multiplier effect and can lead to more violence in society. There is a possibility that these individuals may later engage in criminal activity. In 1999, “Olweus, D., Limber, S., & Mihalic, S. claimed that 40 percent of the boys who were bullies – compared to 10% of those who were neither victims nor bullies – had three or more convictions by age 24” (Christeson, W. et al, 2003: 10).Fig 1.1

3.2 Psychological problems

Sexual violence can give way to phobias. It may affect some so badly that they become incapable of trusting and communicating with others, out of fear. Victims end up with emotional problems, such as depression. They may want to take revenge as well, leading to more violence. Even teachers, who are potential victims of violence, can suffer from depression and low self-esteem. In 1993, the 27th Annual Survey of High Achievers calculated that among students, “26% had considered committing suicide, 4% had attempted suicide, 18% knew someone their own age who had committed suicide, and 41% knew another teen-ager who had attempted suicide”. (National School Safety Center, 2006: 24). The following graph appeared in a report by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, written by Christeson W., Elliott D.S., Fox J.A. Kelikowske R.G., and Newman S.A. (2003) displayed that 52% of students who were bullied were either depressed or suicidal. 48% of them were not bullied or bullies themselves. Fig. 1.2

3.3 Use of harmful substances and items
Exposure to violence may make individuals irresponsible and encourage them to believe that the only way to deal with things is by being violent themselves – they carry weapons for protection. A survey carried out by USA Weekend found that 55% of the students knew that weapons were regularly carried to school (National School Safety Center, 2006: 32). Another graph that appeared in Fight Crime: Invest in Kids (2003) showed that 51% of the kids who never bullied or were bullied at least once a week in school carried weapons. The remaining were Fig 1.3 injured in fights and were under the care of doctors or nurses. In addition, to deal with depression or psychological problems, one may resort to harmful substances like drugs. He may not be able to find a job because of traces of drugs found in his blood. His health is danger and these substances can lead to serious consequences.

IV. SOLUTIONS
4.1 More attention should be given
Parents, teachers and students should be made aware of and prepared for such occurrences. They should be taught how to handle with such situations. Teachers should be around on the school grounds whenever possible to make sure that the children as well as students behave in the way that they ought to. Teachers and students should also not hesitate to notify higher authorities if warnings are not received well. Higher authorities must not ignore such complaints. The school and faculty members should befriend the students rather than rule over them. They should have and encourage ethical behavior. Parents/friends/teachers should be encouraged to become better role models.

4.2 Programs

Seminars could be held where individuals are taught to speak up against acts of abuse. They should be made aware of the effects of their actions as well as the effects of weapons, drugs, tobacco, alcohol, etc. Workshops could be held where one is taught to relieve stress in a positive manner, e.g. by writing, playing an instrument, anger management sessions, etc. School counselors should be hired to help students with emotional/self-related issues as well biological problems. The school should be made aware of such problems, and be informed about how to deal with them. Programs such as The Olweus Bullying Prevention should be adapted, as advised by Christeson, Elliot, Fox, Kelikowske, and Newman (2003) in order to help prevent bullying.

4.3 Rules and regulations

Another way to reduce violence would be to pass laws. Weapons, drugs, etc. should not be sold to under-age people, for instance. Harmful weapons and substances should be confiscated upon sight. If other students know that someone is carrying a weapon, s/he should inform an authoritative figure. This would help minimize chances of violence taking place.

V. CONCLUSION
In conclusion, violence has many causes, such as self-related issues, inability to express emotions (in a positive way), irresponsibility, poor self-control, peer pressure, lack of information, a response to prior acts of violence, easy accessibility to harmful substances/items, exposure to violence and ignorant guardians/supervisors. While violence is a universal problem and cannot be entirely wiped out, it can be reduced with proper education, (personality enhancement) workshops, awareness programs, sufficient attention from guardians or peers, taking action against those who do not act in the interest of others, passing laws, and people available to help those going through self-related problems, like counselors. This issue, if not dealt with as soon as possible will ruin the reputation of Sacred Heart School. Even if a small difference is made by adapting these solutions, it is still a difference nonetheless.

VI. REFERENCE LIST
Anderson, C. A., Berkowitz, L., Donnerstein, E., Huesmann, L. R., Johnson, J. D., Linz, D., Malamuth, N. M., Wartella, E., 2003, ‘The Influence of Media Violence on Youth’, American Psychological Society, [online], Vol. 4, No. 3. Available: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/pdf/pspi/pspi43.pdf [Accessed: 13/02/08]

Christeson W., Elliott D. S., Fox, J. A., Kerlikowske R. G., Newman S. A., 2003, ‘Bullying Prevention is Crime Prevention’, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, [online], p. 9-11. Available: http://www.fightcrime.org/reports/BullyingReport.pdf [Accessed: 13/02/08]

Constitutional Rights Foundation, n.d., Creating Alternatives to Violence, Available: http://www.crf-usa.org/violence/alternative.html [Accessed: 13/02/08]

National School Safety Center, 2006, School Safety Statistics, p. 24.
Available: http://www.schoolsafety.us/pubfiles/school_crime_and_violence_statistics.pdf [Accessed: 13/02/08]

National School Safety Center, 2006, School Safety Statistics, p. 32. Available: http://www.schoolsafety.us/pubfiles/school_crime_and_violence_statistics.pdf [Accessed: 13/02/08]

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001, Youth violence: a report of the Surgeon General. Available: www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/youthviolence [Accessed: 13/02/08]


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