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Violonce in Schools

By mastriod2000 Oct 14, 2008 3151 Words
Every once and awhile you turn on your local news station and hear a story about a teen bringing a gun to school. We always come to a conclusion that the child was picked on all the time and has no friends. But, rarely do we think what we need to do in order for this not to happen again. Ever since the Columbine story schools have buckled down into making sure that the student are in a safe environment. But, is this enough? Since Columbine the violence levels in schools have increased dramatically. Recently this past April, a huge shooting at the Virginia Tech campus was taken place. We then thought wouldn’t the schools have gotten better in security since Columbine? From these past issues we now know more than ever that the violence in schools needs to be taken more seriously. Since recently graduating from high school I still have a close view about the violence that goes on in the public school systems of the United States. Violence in schools can be halted by addressing the student’s issues, handling mis-conduct more carefully, and becoming more involved at home.

Addressing student’s issues can decrease the violence in schools. If teachers and parents ca decide what is causing the violence in schools the problem can be solved easily. A big option that is a solution to the problem would be to set up conferences with the students. By setting up conferences with students, we can find out some of the violent issues that the students may be dealing with. “It's important for kids to feel like they can share their feelings, and know that their fears and anxieties are understandable. Rather than waiting for your child to approach you, consider starting the conversation. Ask kids what they understand about these incidents and how they feel about them” (Dowshen, 2007). Talking to the teachers as well can also bring about great help. By talking to the teachers, schools can get more feedback from the teachers and their opinion on what should be done about the violence. Another great way would also to be to get in contact with the students inner feeling at school. From experience many teacher are not close to there students and don’t really get involve with their students. If teachers create semi platonic relationship with their students they can get a better understanding of the student. “Share your own feelings too — during a tragedy, kids may look to adults for their reactions. It helps kids to know that they are not alone in their anxieties. Knowing that their parents have similar feelings will help kids legitimize their own” (Dowshen, 2007).

Contacting parents about the students can also reduce violence level. Schools today only contact student’s parents because the student is in trouble. Schools should contact parents so the can also give an update on what their child is doing at school. When schools contact the parents, this gives parent opportunity to talk with the child if there are any problems going on with the child or if the child is experiencing anything that is negative and that affects them at school. When a child has parental advisement about how to deal with issues at school, this gives the student a more reasonable way to handle the situation that they are in without resorting to violence. Using great therapy techniques can help benefit with helping the violence level at schools.” At the same time, kids often need parents to help them feel safe. It may help to discuss in concrete terms what you have done and what the school is doing to help protect its students” (Dowshen, 2007). If parents talk to the children more a lot of violent issues can be solved quickly. After dealing with the students issues it may be important for the schools to do follow ups with the students and the parents. Doing follow ups with the students can greatly benefit the cause against school violence. School therapist and parent can check often with the students to see if problems are still reoccurring or to see if the problems have been resolved. Follow ups can also be issued with the parents by having the parents continue to talk to their child to see if there are any other issues that the child may want to discuss.

Schools should handle mis-conduct more carefully. Today schools are thinking of ways to prevent violence from happening at schools. “Many schools are taking extra precautions to keep students safe. Some schools have focused on keeping weapons out by conducting random locker and bag checks, limiting entry and exit points at the school, and keeping the entryways under teacher supervision. Other schools use metal detectors” (Dowshen, 2007).

Using tactics like these can help keep the violence levels at school down. But, even though these are good precautions to take fir school safety it’s important to also make student and teachers feel comfortable when coming to school instead of like a federal prison. “Lessons on conflict resolution have also been added to many schools' courses to help prevent troubled students from resorting to violence. Peer counseling and active peer programs have also helped students become more aware of the signs that a fellow student may be becoming more troubled or violent” (Dowshen, 2007). From experience from taking a conflict resolution class I really think that these types of classes can help the problems with violence that goes on in schools today. Today there are many other tactics that prepare students and teachers on how to deal with emotional and social feelings that may involve a violent act that happened at school. In the wake of tragic events over the course of the past 15 years, many schools have set up school crisis teams to respond to the unique circumstances that surround any crisis (Cohen & Devine, 2007, p. 10). Using crisis teams can help treat many students that may have a personal effect of a violent act that may have happened at their school.

According to Cohen & Devine, “many, if not all, schools today have a standard crisis response plan that has been adopted at the school district level. It is nevertheless crucial that each school adapt that plan to be fully responsive to the unique needs of the community and the individual school. Plans that exist only on paper are clearly useless. It is crucial that the planning process be built into the fiber of the school’s life” (Cohen & Devine, 2007, p.10).

Some school jurisdictions provide only a skeletal model that, in some cases, is little more than a checklist of procedures and caveats. But crisis planning is more than just a one-shot stab at putting together a crisis plan. Schools need to be convinced that building the planning process has to become an integral part of the ongoing pedagogy. Many manuals and workbooks exist to flesh out the security framework. Each school needs to evaluate the available models and decide which one fits best (Cohen & Devine, 2007, p.11). If schools do not provide a plan of action just in case a heavy crisis happens, then how will schools ever be ready to handle such effect as these? Schools have to become better prepared to handle how student may feel in case of a crisis emotionally as well as physically.

There are many statistics that is known about school violence that dates back to 1992. According to school teacher Melissa Kelly “Since the 1992-3 school year, 270 violent deaths have occurred at schools across the nation according to The National School Safety Center's Report on School Associated Violent Deaths. The majority of these deaths, 207, were shooting victims. However, the number of deaths in the 1999-2000 school year was almost one quarter the number that occurred in 1992-3. Though those numbers seem encouraging, most people would agree that any statistical data of this nature is unacceptable. Further, most school violence does not result in death” (Kelly, 2007). In agreeing with Kelly how can anyone find these statistics encouraging?

So what are the schools doing now about dropping the rates of school violence? “84% of public schools have a 'low security' system in place. This means that they have no guards or metal detectors, but they do control access to school buildings. 11% have 'moderate security' which means either employing a full-time guard with no metal detectors or controlled access to the buildings or a part-time guard with controlled access to the buildings” (Kelly, 2007). In my opinion having guards and a security system would be a safe way to have more protection within the school. From recently graduating from high school this past May I would say the rates of school violence continues to go up. Schools today have to find way to prevent violence from happening so these numbers can continue to go down.

Many concerns have been raised about the issues of juvenile violence. According to Debra Kopka “Juvenile violence was once viewed as a social problem to be dealt with primarily by the law enforcement and judicial systems. But as violent acts become increasingly prevalent in our nation's schools, violence among youth is now recognized as a major public health problem that must be addressed by administrators, educators, family and community members, lawmakers, and health care professionals” (Kopka, 1997, p. 1). It’s important to address these issues as school violence is something that is taking over in schools today. Even though Kopka stated this in 1997, school violence still grows today in schools. However, violence is not only of physical acts. According to Kopka “When we think of violent acts, we tend to think only of those that produce physical harm. But many violence prevention curricula and programs extend the definition of a violent act to include verbal, visual, or physical acts intended to demean, harm, or infringe upon another's civil rights. Thus, racial epithets, white supremacy symbols, or a hard shove in a school hallway are all considered violent acts. Also, although we tend to think of school violence as that which happens only within school walls, researchers consider violence to be school related if it occurs on a school campus, on the way to or from school, or traveling to or from a school-sponsored event” (Kopka, 1997, p. 2). Kopka is right to say that many school related violent acts can also happen outside of the schools walls. Usually many fights that are schools related have started on the buses or on the walk to school. The violence can then escalate once inside the school into something much more serious. We have to be able to keep violence down no matter if it is on the bus or inside the school or on school grounds. Schools are said to be a safe learning environment for students and teacher. If the violence is not dealt with and just ignored by the school then the school can have a major problem on their hands.

Another form of school violence that has been recently been in the media is known as hazing. Lipkins defines hazing as “a process based on a tradition that is used by groups to maintain a hierarchy (a “pecking order”) within the group. Regardless of consent, the rituals require individuals to engage in activities that are physically and psychologically stressful. These activities can be exhausting, humiliating, degrading, demeaning, and intimidating” (Lipkins, 2006, p. 13). Many male and female high school freshmen experience this sort of violence behavior from the seniors of the high school that they attend. This sort of violence can cause very serious mental and physical harm to

either female or male student. In September 2003 at Mepham High School located in Bellmore, New York three freshmen football players were beaten and sexually molested by players of the varsity team during a preseason camp. This story shocked the nation to wonder why this kind of behavior is going on in our schools. Lipskins provides us with five warning signs of hazing:

“1. Adjust too quickly to new situations and instantly have new
friends
2. Change the pattern of communication
3. Reduce contact with old friends and family
4. Develop new physical and medical problems
5. Develop new psychological problems” (Lipkins, 2006 p. 68). These are the warning signs that parents may want to check their child for if the child is experiencing this kind of behavior. This information can become helpful to many parents who have children that have just started college. I find Lipkins information to be very useful on how to tell if you child is involved in hazing because this can give parents and students a chance to address the issue.

In some cases most do not know where the violence in school originates from. An old saying goes to say that “the way your child acts in a reflection on their parents”. With that being said the violence has to start somewhere and the birth place for violence can include the child’s home. Even though the parents of the Columbine shooters didn’t have any influence on their children about shooting the school but I’m sure the parents noticed that their children were acting very aggressive towards them. Klaus Miczek provides us with information on how to prevent childhood aggressive behavior:

Preventing Childhood Aggressive Behavior
Interventions that have shown some success in reducing children's aggressive behavior include:
Social learning and cognitive behavioral interventions with elements that emphasize the undesirability of aggression, nonaggressive methods of solving interpersonal problems, social skills training, and watching television programs that emphasize prosocial behavior and

Interventions such as tutoring by peers or specially trained high school students to reduce early-grade school failure (Miczek, 1993, p. 66). With using these types of techniques we can prevent major things like Columbine from ever happening again. For me the parents of the Columbine shooters lost touched with their children. Children need to feel like they are loved everyday, and when you as a parent do not show the love, the child begins to feel distant of their parent and then the look for someone else to fill the hole that is empty. In the Columbine case the two shooters found companionship with each other and that lead them to take the lives of innocent children and teachers.

We get to the issue of what sets off children who commit these violent acts such as Columbine. A trigger that can cause children to commit violent acts in school would be bullies of the school. Everyday thousands of teens wake up afraid to go to school because of bullies. Bullies can be a main influence of violent acts happening at school. When people feel scared they want to be able to protect themselves. The shooters of Columbine thought a good way to deal with bullies would be to end their lives. This

however is the absolute wrong way to deal with bullies if you’re being picked on. Michelle New provides ways to combat psychological and verbal bullying:
“Ignore the bully and walk away.
Hold the anger.
Don't get physical.
Practice confidence.
Take charge of your life.
Talk about it.
Find your (true) friends” (New, 2007).
It’s important to talk out problems and not resorting to violence if you are dealing with a school bully. Taking the life of another is not going to help the situation but, can only make the issue worse. “Another way to combat bullying is to join your school's anti-violence program or, if your school doesn't have one, to start one of your own” (New, 2007). It’s important to deal with bullies from the start using a non-violent way. If bullying situation continue to occur without anyone telling some sort of authority the consequences can be very horrific. Not many students trust their teachers or authority so they do not tell. Teachers have to be more direct and more open with their students in order for students to become more comfortable with authority figures.

Violence from children does not only reflect the parents but it may also reflect the communities that the children may come from that commit these violent acts. Recent studies show “many analysts believe that schools are reflections of the communities they serve, and this belief is borne out in the increasing violence in today’s schools and in society in general” (Rapp-Paglicci, Roberts, & Wodarski, 2002, p. 326). I believe this

true in some cases. Even though a school is placed in a bad community does not mean that all of the student will commit violent acts. But, as mentioned student are reflections of where they come from. If a student sees a violent act in their neighborhoods everyday, then that’s what student will know. Seeing that kind of violence everyday will only instill in the student mind from them to think that this kind of behavior is okay in school.

In conclusion, violence in schools is an issue that needs to be taken very seriously. Parents, teachers and students do not to take this situation lightly. Violence in school is something that can escalate to extreme number in the near future. If schools and the government do not take this matter serious, who knows what can happen in our schools. Parents want to be able to feel as though their child is in a safe and comfortable environment. No child wants to be bullied and feel as though they are not wanted in the school. This can no longer be an issue that is put on the back-burner to sit and cool. This issue must be tackled now before it is too late. The Columbine and the Virginia Tech incidents something that no one wants to relive again, and in order for these kinds of act not to happen again we need to reach out to our fellow students and show them that violence is never the way. Therefore, violence in schools can be halted by addressing the student’s issues, handling mis-conduct more carefully, and becoming more involved at home.

References

Cohen, J., & Devine, J. (2007). Making Your School Safe: Strategies to Protect Children and Promote Learning Series On Social Emotional Learning. New York Teachers College Press. Dowshen, S. (2007). School Violence and the News.

Retrieved December 2, 2007 from
http://www.kidshealth.org/PageManager.jsp?dn=KidsHealth&lic=1&article_set=21726&cat_id=171& Epp, J., & Watkinson, A. (1997). Systemic Violence in Education: Promise Broken
SUNY Series, Education and Culture. Albany State University. New York Press. Kelly, M. (2007). Violence in Schools.
Retrieved December 2, 2007 from
http://712educators.about.com/cs/schoolviolence/a/schoolviolence.htm Kopka, D. (1997). School Violence: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif. ABC-CLIO.

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