As Teachers Living in Communities Affected By Violence

This study allows us to look at how teachers who live in communities affected by violence handle the challenges they are faced with, how they deal with the stressful situations, and how they can receive support to better themselves and the school setting for their students. It is important that the proper resources are provided to teachers who must deal with this kind of issue. Several teachers are asked important questions regarding the areas that they live and teach in and how they handle the issues in a personal way and how they handle their classroom.

The authors focus on what teachers currently do to help deal with the result of communities affected by violence in their classrooms, and strategies that could be helpful to teachers in.

The study also focuses on the individual ways of coping that teachers have used and how using interventions can help teachers prepare for situations. Using strategy and collaboration can allow the teachers and the students to flourish in a safe environment that allows them both to be at their best.

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The research is conducted on volunteer middle school teachers. Three urban schools were chosen to participate in the study; twenty total teachers were chosen for the study. The schools that were chosen were all different sizes but were all located in high violence neighborhoods. All three schools were located in urban areas near Washington D.C., and they all had failed to meet state standards in the subjects of reading and math.

They were identified by using the county police and a program that is known as Collaborative Supervision and Focused Enforcement Zone (CSAFE).

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The schools that were involved had a population of African American students that ranged from 85-98%. The teachers that were involved in the study taught a variety of subjects. The author clearly states as to why they chose the teachers and the schools that they did. The set of open-ended questions is provided in the study, and each participant was asked the same questions. The author also clearly explains why the questions that they ask are important. The questions are all based on the challenges, strategies, and support systems that teachers in violent neighborhoods use in their schools.

This study was conducted using intensive interviewing within depth set of open-ended questions on participants who were able to provide valuable information on the issue being studied. The teachers were assured that their interviews would remain anonymous and they were encouraged to find more teachers who could help with interview questions. Their sampling was “purposeful” as they knew they wanted to select people who could give valuable information. The interviewees used a semi structured protocol and recorded the interviews then transcribed them. The interviews ranged anywhere from 1 to 2 hours; the average interview time was 70 minutes.

The interviews were done in using a qualitative research method for data analysis. The study used a software, QSR NVivo, to analyze the data that was received. The software analyzed the data in 3 stages. The first stage involved taking the data from the transcripts and used a system to link commonalities. The second stage involved using specific categories and subcategories to allow the researchers to use inductive and deductive reasoning when analyzing the data. The final stage involved connecting all of the data in a way that allows them to narrate the results.

There were two researchers involved in this study. One of the researchers was allowed to build relationships with the teachers before they started conducting the study. The researcher who did the interviews took notes that allowed both researchers to see reflections and allow them the ability to compare their findings. The researchers were both involved when making final decisions on data, themes, and if the data was an accurate representation of the interviewee’s personal experiences.

The themes that resulted from the study were categorized into three different areas: challenges, strategies, and support needs. The ecological framework model was used to subcategorize the areas into perspectives from the individual, the school, and the community. The researchers discussed the themes that arose from the study and agreed that this was an accurate representation of what was expressed by the teachers participating in the study.

The individual level is consistent with teachers feeling that there is a lack of training on how to manage students and difficult behaviors. Teachers also contribute lack of training to not being able to enforce school rules. The results of this study are consistent with a national study “in which teachers in urban schools felt ill-prepared to deal with youth affected by community violence. The result of being unprepared and not having the training had some teachers realizing that their stress was starting to affect their mental health. It brought teacher productivity and effectiveness down. Emotional withdrawal was used by several the teachers for a coping strategy. “While emotional withdrawal may provide temporary relief from stress, teachers also acknowledged that it negatively affected their feelings about themselves and their ability to make a positive difference for students”.

The school level was consistent with teachers fearing for their own safety and agreeing that there was a lack of security. “School climate was critical in perceptions of safety, with teachers feeling challenged by inadequate school discipline and ambiguous rules and enforcement policies”. The way a school handles rules and aggression can make or break a school’s climate. Having leadership that is strong enough to enforce clear rules and communicates properly allows the teachers and students to focus on academics instead of the happenings around them. Teachers also revealed that it helps to avoid difficult students, even if this means ignoring behaviors. The community level was consistent with teachers realizing that some things were out of their control.

Several teachers believe that having strong parent teacher relationships is a critical part to reducing the student’s exposure to violence, and an effective way to communicate things happening in school. When schools and parents are having effective communication, it allows the student to hear the same messages about safety at home and at school. “Previous research has found that parenting education may enhance parents’ ability to rear their children in violent settings”. Some teachers sought out professional help to allow them to deal with situations in ways that is healthy for them. Allowing themselves to get the help they need can help them build resilience to the situations that they are having to handle because of working in a community affected by violence.

There are several studies that discuss how community violence influences children and the schools, but the research exploring teacher input is very limited. Living in violent communities and being exposed to unsafe neighborhoods can lead to youth becoming more aggressive. Previous studies have revealed that teachers have felt underprepared but finding input from teachers at all levels is an important aspect into having information needed to help schools in communities affected by violence. Researchers were curious as to how middle school teachers in urban neighborhoods affected by violence handled challenges, coped with the stress, and the strategies that they used. “Using a qualitative design, this study adopted an ecological risk and resilience framework to examine contextual factors that influence teacher experiences”.

6. Although this study is very in depth and gave several new insights on teachers who teach in communities affected by violence, there are some limitations discussed in the study. The participants who were involved may have not been the only teachers who were struggling. Some teachers may have been uncomfortable to share their stories. Since it was a self-selection, some teachers may have not gotten the opportunity to share some of the things that they felt important to share. The study had only one interviewer. Allowing more than one interviewer can allow different perspectives to be seen and data to be analyzed from more than one point of view. The study does not allow its findings to be generalized as the focus is not representative of other populations.


  1. Maring, E. F., & Koblinsky, S. A. (2013). Teachers Challenges, Strategies, and Support Needs in Schools
  2. Affected by Community Violence: A Qualitative Study.
  3. Journal of School Health, 83(6), 379–388. doi: 10.1111/josh.12041

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As Teachers Living in Communities Affected By Violence. (2022, Jan 08). Retrieved from

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