Introduction From the many reported and even more unreported events, school violence is seen as a subset of youth violence and a broader health problem. Factors that contribute to school violence are socioeconomic status, family, peers, and mental health. The best way to deal with school violence is to establish physical and social environments that prevent violence and promote safety within schools (Brener 81). There are many different forms of school violence. School violence could be seen as bullying, fighting, weapon use, shootings, stabbings, gang violence, and now growing cyber-bullying.
Bullying tends to be the leading cause for school violence. Middle schools have the highest rate of bullying at 43 percent, and 22 percent of high schools have reported ongoing bullying problems in 2005-2006 (Statistics 2). Bullying not only has psychological effects on the victims, but it can affect the bully as well. Bullying can include the following: mocking, rumors, pushing, threats, exclusion, and being forced to do something one does not want to do. School violence occurs in and out of school. The most reported cases of school violence occur on school property.
There were 46 percent of schools reporting 20 or more acts of violence on schools grounds. Other forms of school violence occur on the way to or from school and during school-sponsored events. Not only does school violence occur in these areas, but cyber-bullying has also been a big problem in schools lately. Students who are victims of cyber-bullying are more likely to become absent from school or even worse, can lead to several cases of suicide. Bullying Bullying is viewed as a pre-evolution to violence in schools and is common among students in grades six through ten.
It is estimated that about ten percent of students are bullied at some point in their lives, six percent have both been bullied and bullied others and thirteen percent admit to SCHOOL VIOLENCE2 bullying others. Bullying is becoming a hot topic in education because of school violence and suicides. Bullying is defined as an act to humiliate another person who is perceived as weaker, or less capable than the bully. The act of humiliation can be anything from physical, verbal or emotional abuse, as well as sexual harassment, which has been categorized under bullying recently (Fried, 1996).
The bully is usually a person of dominance over the one being bullied. In girls, dominance is achieved by social status and popularity. In boys, it is achieved by physical qualities such as size and strength. Types of Abuse Physical abuse and bullying includes anything from punching, stabbing, shooting, strangling, and suffocating to poking, hair pulling, and excessive tickling. physical abuse is more common between boys but there are still some girls who bully others using physical abuse. (Winkler, 2005). Violence and aggression among youth has increased a lot in the last twenty years and it begins with physical abuse.
This rise in aggression is even more alarming with the higher availability of guns. Instead of using fists and hands more students are using guns and other weapons on both their victims and their bullies. Verbal abuse is the most common form of bullying and there are various forms of this abuse. Verbal abuse is used with an intention to harm another and cause pain, and is used to gain power over another person. (Fried, 1996). In addition, verbal abuse also leaves the victims feeling alone and exposed, and usually escalates, leading to physical consequences.
Emotional abuse can reduce a child’s self-confidence to the point where they consider themselves unworthy of respect, friendship, love and protection. This is the most difficult type of abuse to define and diagnose. It can include rejecting, isolating, terrorizing, and corrupting. SCHOOL VIOLENCE3 Sexual abuse is the most complicated, the most difficult to document, and the hardest to address. “Sexual interactions involving children with peers or younger children are problematic if the relationship is coercive, exploitive, aggressive or threatens the physical or psychological well-being of either participant” (Fried, 1996).
Sexual abuse needs two conditions to take place: Sexual activities involving a child and an abusive condition. There are two categories of sexual activities: noncontact and contact sexual abuse. Noncontact abuse includes exhibitionism, voyeurism, verbal sexual propositions or harassment. It can also include sexual notes or pictures, sexual graffiti, making suggestive or sexual gestures, pulling someone’s clothes off, and spreading sexual rumors (Fried, 1996).
The conditions of noncontact sexual abuse is sexual activities that occur when there is mutuality, experimentation with sexual language and words in a non-demeaning way, situations when children have equal power and authority, and an absence of coercion or manipulation. Contact sexual abuse is when the other person has a large age or maturational advantage over the child, is in a position of authority, in a caretaking relationship with the child, or the activities are carried out against the child using either force or trickery. What Makes a Bully? Bullies are usually confident and have plenty of self-esteem.
They have no difficulty in making friends, and these friends usually share pro-bullying attitudes and problem behaviors. Bullies tend to get in more trouble in school and do poorly in their academics. Often coming from homes where their parents provide little emotional support or involvement, where discipline styles tend to be either extremely permissive or excessively harsh leads to bullying behavior. “There is a strong relationship between bullying other students at a younger age and being involved in legal and criminal activities later on in life.
About 60 percent of people that were surveyed who were SCHOOL VIOLENCE4 considered bullies in sixth through ninth grade had at least one criminal conviction by age 24” (Rimm, 2005). Victims of bullying tend to have social adjustment problems and are more likely to have low self-esteem and feel anxious and insecure. They rarely defend themselves, and male victims are usually physically weaker or smaller than their peers. The most common reason why kids were bullied was that they do not fit in. Children who are bullied may feel anxious, fearful, and have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork.
Worrying about being harassed by their peers may also make them afraid to even go to school. “Researchers have found that adults who were bullied frequently as children had higher levels of depression and lower self-esteem than other adults” (Rimm, 2005). Those who are both bullied and bully others usually have the most serious behavioral and emotional problems. Social isolation, lack of success in school and behavioral problems combined make them a high-risk group. It is most likely that they were bullied first and then imitated the bullying behavior, although it is possible that they bullied first and others later retaliated.
They exhibit social-emotional adjustment problems typical of bullies as well as victims which makes it unlikely that they will be resilient enough to adjust to a healthy lifestyle without effective intervention strategies. Middle School Violence Middle school is the period in schooling that comes between elementary and high school. The notion of middle school comes from G. Stanley Hall in 1904 that emphasized the need for an intermediate school. According to Hall, there was an adolescent age that requires its own in-between level of schooling.
He defines the childhood period as gradually terminating at the end of the twelfth year, with the transition of adolescence beginning at that point (Coopock, 1974). SCHOOL VIOLENCE5 The background described above is essential in providing reasoning for the increase in violent acts as well as the nature of the violent acts. Middle school is where violent behaviors begin to fester. Just like the middle child in a family, they struggle to fit in. They are too old to fit in with the elementary students and they are not quite old enough to fit in with the high school students.
They are battling with hormones associated with puberty and as mentioned above, are starting to develop physically, mentally, and emotionally, which leads to more aggression, sexual frustration and for some, the inability to cope with new social problems. Common Signs of Violence in Middle School Although there are some forms of violence in elementary school, middle school is where the more violent acts begin, where rampage shootings, sexual harassment and or sexual assault and bullying are the most common.
Other forms of shootings, stabbings and fights are common throughout a child’s schooling, but as mentioned in the statistics there is a significant increase in the amounts and forms of violence that occur in middle schools. The numbers go from 34 percent which includes rare shootings, name calling, tattling, fighting, stabbing and bullying in the elementary level to 76 percent which more than doubled adding rampage shooting, sexual assault and sexual harassment to the list at the middle school level. Sexual harassment and or sexual assault can be perpetrating by students and administrators.
For example, Cleveland’s Wiley Middle School teacher was sentenced to 153 years for sexually harassing and assaulting two middle school students. The effects of assault caused by personnel leaves a bigger scar on these children because the perpetrators are individuals who are supposed to be responsible for protecting the students. Instead, 31 year old Christopher Thomas of Eastlake used his cell phone to call and text inappropriate sayings of a sexual nature with two 14 year old girls from June 2008 until November 2009.
One of the girls he sexually assaulted in her home and his cell SCHOOL VIOLENCE6 phone and computer contained nude photos of both girls. During his sentencing, the perpetrator cited that he knew what he was doing was wrong. (website, 2010). Middle & High School Violence: Rampage Shootings Most other forms of violence have been described throughout this essay showing the different forms and most of the information provided mainly deals with the problems of urban schools. But contrary to belief, suburban schools encounter school violence of all forms and are particularly known for rampage shootings. Rampage shootings are different from other forms of school violence.
For example, these shootings can take place on school campuses before an audience of fellow students; it can involve multiple victims who are often chosen at random and can be carried out by students or former students of the school where they occur. ” (Hunnicutt, 2006). For example 14 year old, Michael Carneal of West Paducah, Kentucky, always wore black and was known by his class mates as a Satanist, he went to school on the morning of Dec. 1 1997 and pulled out a 22 caliber handgun and started firing into a praying group of students.
He left 3 girls dead and 5 others wounded (Hunnicutt, 2006). Littleton, Colorado is home of the most famous rampage shooting recorded in high school history. The perpetrators were two students who attended Columbine High School, Klebold Dylan and Eric Harris. These two young men, dressed in camouflage, entered the building and began shooting at random. They killed 13 people before killing themselves. The Columbine High School shootings gave the world a picture of one type of violence that is within high schools. School Violence: Urban & Suburban Schools
Another factor that may influence the occurrence of violence in schools is the number of students that attend a particular high school. There is a large possibility that the relationship of having more students can directly lead to a form of competition and problems becoming more SCHOOL VIOLENCE7 intense. Compared to the 200,000 public elementary and secondary schools in 1940, there were only 65,000 schools in 2005. In those 65 years, the numbers of schools decreased while the U. S. population increased by 70 percent (Quindlen, 2001).
A study done by Barker and Gump in 1964 on social functioning size and high school size, recognized that on average, students in smaller schools participate in extracurricular activities twice as much as students who are in larger schools. Another study concluded that smaller high schools sizes had more positive results than larger schools in academic performance, absenteeism, dropout rate, extracurricular activities, sense of community, student satisfaction, social behavior, dropout rate, and parental involvement, regardless of rural or urban settings.
Now looking at numbers, “smaller high schools (enrollment size 400-600) experienced one-eighth the rate of serious crimes (four percent compared to 33 percent), one-tenth the rate of physical attacks with weapons (two percent to 20 percent), and one-third the rate of theft or larceny (18 percent to 68 percent) and vandalism (23 percent to 62 percent)” of that compared to larger high schools (enrollments above 600) (Devoe et al. , 2002). The rates of schools violence tend to mirror the behavior of the general population.
Community violence in the inner cities is more of a problem than in rural areas, with rampage shootings being the exception. This helps partially prove that community violence has a direct influence on the children. Much research today suggests that violence is a learned behavior, so children acting out in violent or aggressive ways may have learned the violence from adults in their community. Early intervention may be the best way to prevent this type of behavior. Making the environment safe is the most important thing a community can do.
Schools have adopted a zero tolerance policy against school violence which helps prevent violent acts of behavior. Conclusion SCHOOL VIOLENCE8 There are three recommendations from Dessel’s article that can be drawn to inform future practice in education and future research in public school settings. First, increased attention must be paid to the constructs of public school culture and climate. Second, changing school culture and climate specifically involves teacher education. Third, future research must improve and explore the barriers to implementing programs.
As Zirkel and Cantor (2004) state, in 1954 people were not asking whether schools would welcome and nurture African American children and adapt the curriculum to be inclusive, but were only starting to open the doors. Today, the doors must not only swing wide open, but all children must be welcomed with acceptance, celebration of differences and acknowledgement of the contribution of diversity, for the benefit of everyone (Dessel, 2010). Bibliography Coopock, N. (1974). iddle Schools School leadership digest. In N. Coppock, Middle Schools School leadership digest (pp.1-42).
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