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Stop School Violence

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Expanding Knowledge to Decrease School Violence

A Make a Difference Project

Critical Need:

School violence currently exists in the United States educational system. The number of children who are becoming victims of school violence is increasing annually. Since 1992, the term вЂ?school violence’ became widely used in describing violent and aggressive acts that are occurring across all school campuses in the United States. Furlong (2000) describes school violence as being “composed of the perpetration of violence, violence victimization, antisocial behavior, criminal behavior, fear/worry beliefs, and discipline/school climate, among other aspects (Furlong, 2000). Data on school violence suggests that there are multiple causes including negative school environments, male socialization, economic depravity, disorganized and violent communities, abusive families, bullying, poor parenting, substance use, and media (Bliss, 2006, pg 266).

Based on Bennett-Johnson’s (2004) findings, he states that American violence has filtered into not only college and university campuses, but that violence has now filtered into high schools, junior high schools, and even elementary schools (Bennett-Jonhson, 2004, p. 199). Unfortunately, violence in our schools has become a major issue that is affecting the education and essentially, the lives of our youth. Schools are supposed to be a place where children go to learn, experience, and develop. In 2003, Mathis (2006) cites in his article that a report found that approximately “5 percent of students reported they skipped school because they were afraid” and students are dying from violent crimes that are occurring in our schools. In 2003, 22 innocent children became victims to violence and lost their lives to a violent incident that occurred while they were in school. Currently in the United States, violence and crimes are occurring in schools, and action needs to be taken and address the existence of violence that is increasing. Mathis (2006) cites that “21 percent of public and private students said that street gangs had a presence at their schools” (Mathis, 2006, p. 4). Violence is occurring and running ramped in all communities and among diverse demographics.

Sadly, violence has become an epidemic in many schools, including in rural, urban, and suburban areas around the country today. Evidence does show that there are higher incidences of violence in schools where the demographics of the students and their families are living below poverty level. Families who are living in poor, economic situations tend to be involved in crime on a daily basis. Children of parents’ who are involved in crime, including involvement in gangs, involvement in violence with guns and other accessible weapons, drugs, abuse, and neglect, unfortunately learn from their parents and model the patterned behavior. Children are then imitating these behaviors and these violent problems and behaviors are being carried over and exhibited into the school environments as well. (Bennett-Johnson, 2004, p.200)

Optimistic bias studies document that despite school violence students maintain the belief that violence is less likely to happen to them (personally) or in their schools (globally), than elsewhere in the country. Findings indicate that optimistic bias can be reduced through educational campaigns and suggest a means of reducing violence by first reducing optimistic bias (Chapin 2003, pg 2). In some cases of school violence including shootings that lead to the death of many students, other students reported that they were aware of the threats and even that someone had brought a gun to school but did not believe that it could happen in their school or community. Increased education needs to be provided to students and communities in order to decrease the amount of violence in schools.

There is a critical need for schools around the United States to address violence in our schools. Schools need to formulate individual plans for their buildings. Today, there is an array of public information on how to prevent violence before it starts, address the current violence that is occurring in programs and schools, and possible solutions to create safer, non-violent environments for the youth of America in our schools.

Options and Solutions:

Violence occurs in both private and public atmospheres but schools can play a significant role in teaching non-violence to youth. According to Bliss (2006), trying to identify the solutions to implement and utilize within public and private schools is complicated, but several solutions exist and include, some, if not all factors, the parents, the school and school district, the media, the local community, as well as student-based interventions (Bliss, 2006, p. 267).

“The reasons for focusing on schools as the venue for prevention efforts are several. First, schools are a key social learning milieu for children, thus, providing a context in which to learn non-violent social skills. Second, social, behavioral and academic successes at school often forecast adjustment and productivity in adult life (National Crime Prevention Center, 2001). As such, it makes sense to attempt to improve children’s capacity for pro-social behavior, both now and in future. Third, there is a growing perception that schools are not what they used to be or what they could and need to be вЂ" a safe and caring learning environment. A number of violence prevention programs provide strategies to address the entire school culture. Fourth, teachers seem to spend an inordinate amount of time and energy resolving conflicts and managing disruptive behaviors in the classroom and school grounds. If children can be empowered to solve some of their own conflicts, teachers spend less time doing so. Fifth, early intervention is deemed essential to unlearning violence and learning non-violent choices. Addressing programs to children when they are school-aged could prevent violence later when they are adolescents. Finally, violence in its many forms is increasingly being viewed as a major health issue that can be addressed within school curricula” (Resolve Alberta, 2002)

One option for decreasing school violence is to create a violence awareness campaign designed to educate youth, teachers, parents, and the community about the risks of school violence using various media such as news channels, billboards, flyers, posters, radio, trainings, seminars, etc. Getting youth and communities involved in preventing violence can significantly increase the amount of awareness and danger signs that are often seen prior



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