A Current Controversies Novel
A Book Report
Book Edited By: Lucinda Almond
Lucinda Almond (Book Editor)
School Violence – A Current Controversies Novel
Farmington Hills, Michigan: The Gale and Greenhaven Press, 2008 232pp. $27.50
Whether it is the classic bullying that occurs on a daily basis or a distraught student entering a school with a gun, there is a wide spectrum when it comes to the degrees of school violence. The National Criminal Justice Reference Service defines school violence as “any behaviour that violates a school’s education mission or climate of respect or jeopardizes the intent of the school to be free of aggression against persons or property, drugs, weapons, disruptions and disorder” (Almond, p. 20). The book, School Violence, contains compilations of ideas from different experts and authors. It is organized into 4 chapters: “Is School Violence a Prevalent Problem?” , “What Factors Contribute to School Violence?”, “Will Stricter Gun Control Laws Reduce School Violence?” and “Will Alternative Juvenile Interventions Help Prevent School Violence?”. There are many aspects to school violence, which the contributors to this novel analyze. Although the authors’ beliefs and proposed solutions may vary, they all share the common goal of “securing safe schools for all students” (Almond, p. 17).
The first issue discussed is the prevalence of school violence and its many forms. A majority of us are familiar with the University of Texas Massacre in 1996, where a sole gunman killed 16 students (Wikipedia, 2010). Although more extreme incidents (i.e. carrying weapons, sexual assault, bomb threats, etc.) are reported or heard of in the media, Alan G. Hevesi claims several school administrators do not report incidents or they manipulate the data. Most unreported incidents include physical assault, harassment and burglaries. This is concerning since as students or parents we intend for our children or ourselves to be going to safe, reliable schools whether it is university or elementary. The whole idea is that the schools appear safer than they really are thus creating a better reputation. However, creating a false image does not exactly diminish the violence. As mentioned many cases of bullying go unreported and according to Justin Patchin new technology provides a new form to bullying and “would-be bullies are afforded technology that provides additional mediums over which they can manifest their malice…”(Patchin, p.28). It is true that some students are able to cope with several instances, however, others who are tormented may experience more long-term effects such as depression or even in extreme cases, and they commit suicide or a homicide. It is not like there are no means to prevent school violence. Although some schools are manipulating their data, several administrators, teachers and peers attempt to minimize or prevent school violence by insuring there is no fuel to start the fire. One important fact that Mike Males brings up is that in a population of 50 million school children (in America) there were fewer than 30 violent deaths in 1998/1999 where as everyday approximately 6 children die at the hands of their guardians. With such a wide range of classifications of school violence it is very hard to analyze what type of violence is a prevalent problem or not. Often the media focuses on the more serious, rare events and not more common cases such as cyber-bullying. If school administrators are hiding or manipulating the truth it is important to identify these schools and ensure that what they are hiding does not develop into something more serious.
“Whether the forces that drive kids to violence are biological, pharmacological, or environmental, the authors [in the second chapter] debate the causes and contributing factors to school violence” (Almond, pg. 70). One interesting factor is violent video games. Video game addiction leads many...