Disruptive and Violent Behaviors in the Classroom: Where do we begin to solve the problem?
According to Random House Dictionary (1992), discipline is defined as “behavior in accord with rules of conduct.” It is an essential part of classroom management. Discipline in the classroom enables a teacher to focus on the task at hand, which is education our children. It also keeps a classroom or school in order and created a safer environment in which to learn. Disruptive behaviors in the classroom affect not only the student involved but also the teacher and other students. For example, if a student exhibits disruptive behavior as a means of gaining attention by throwing paper or talking during class, he or she takes the teacher off task to address his or her behavior. This also causes the other students to become off task. The disruptive student becomes satisfied because the attention rewards his/her negative behavior. These kinds of minor incidents, if rewarded, could lead to other forms of disruptions, which, if not controlled, could become aggressive and or violent situations. Take for instance the six-year old boy who shot and killed another six-year old classmate after a playground dispute in Mount Morris Township, MI on February 9, 2000 (Bonilla, 2000). If elementary school educators think the problem of crime, violence and aggression in youth will not affect them, then they must reconsider. This example has proven that the perpetrator is likely to be of any age, even as young as six-years old.
As a teacher, one of my concerns is classroom management. In particular, I want to be well informed on the disruptive behavior of children, recognizing its causes and implementing a form of discipline that will not only stop the disruption and keep the students on task but also prevent it from occurring regularly. I believe being knowledgeable of the causes will enable us as educators to develop strategies to control and prevent these behaviors from occurring in the future, thus, keeping our students on task, as well as, making our schools a safer place to learn.
This paper is organized in a three-fold manner, including research on the following focus areas: (1) overview of aggressive and disruptive behaviors and violence in schools; (2) possible causes and consequences for aggressive and disruptive behaviors; (3) strategies for assessment, intervention and prevention. Definitions/Overview of Concepts
How do we begin to derive a solution to the problem of violence in our schools? It only seems appropriate to first define aggression and violence. Jan Jewett (1992), the author of Aggression and Cooperation: Helping Young Children Develop Constructive Strategies, defines aggression as “any intentional behavior that results in physical or mental injury to any person or animal, or in damage to or destruction of property. According to researcher Lorraine Wallach (1996), violence and aggression are often confused and are used interchangeably to mean the same thing. In fact, she states that aggression is inborn while violence is learned. Aggression provides the force that can cause violent behavior to erupt if it is not handled properly. Wallach’s definition of violence is very similar to Jewett’s definition of aggression. Wallach (1996) states, “violence means using force to hurt, violate or abuse persons or destroy property.” In their study, Kamps, Kravits, Stolze and Swaggart (1999) define aggression as, “purposeful physical contact intended to harm a peer or that could be harmful with force…” Basically this definition is synonymous with that of Jewett and Wallach.
For the purpose of this paper, aggression is defined by using a variation of the above mentioned definitions as the force that causes disruptive and sometimes violent behaviors to flare. Violent behaviors are defined as intentional behaviors meant to hurt, violate or cause damage to any person or property as a result...