Sociology

Violence in Schools Issues causes and Solutions



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The good news is that serious violence in schools, such as killings, stabbings, shootings, rapes and other serious crimes of assault and battery have declined significantly since a peak during the 1990s. The bad news is that the conditions still exist that lead to violence that is related to the schools, but which occurs off campus. Violent incidents that are clearly connected to relationships that begin in school, but which occur off campus need to be looked into, as they have school attendance as a nexus and as a catalyst for violence elsewhere.

What are the causes of school violence? There is bullying that is the result of problem behaviors in the home. While the easiest way out is to label fatherless homes and poor homes as the major source of the behavioral problems that lead to school bullying with a violent component, this does nothing to explain the incidents of bullying by well to do kids who live at home with both parents, that have led to suicides and murders.

Again, even if the actual violence,including suicide, occurs away from the school, if the catalyst and origins of the causative bullying are in the school facilities, then the violence should be considered to be school related and not left out of the statistical totals. The children would simply not be in incubators for violence if they were not required by law to attend them daily.

Then, there are any number of cliques, groups, movements and deviant lifestyles that can have violence as a component or as an outcome of unsupervised and out of control activities. Children are being exposed to more and more adult situations and behaviors that easily lead to violence in or out of school.

Finally, abuse of children by school authorities, while only revealed in spectacularly bad incidents that happen to be filmed, is also an issue. Children have been beaten, locked in closets, duct taped, tased and scarred by abusive teachers for generations. 

More good news, however, is that aggressive programs have been developed and implemented in the schools. Beginning with collaborative programs that take parent and student input, action and ideas, programs for reducing the most problematic causes: unsupervised after school time and lack of organized activities, as well as inclusion of parents and peers in punishment for violations have incorporated those who know the most or who can offer the most to help reduce school violence.

There are non-negotiable programs that prohibit anything that could be used as a weapon in schools. The protests of parents and others who think that prescription drugs in the hands of a 9 year old (as opposed to being held in the nurse's office), or that a kitchen knife is appropriate for a school lunch (as opposed to cutting up the food) have been rejected with "no exceptions" policies, greatly reducing the number of harmful or deadly weapons in schools.

Arrests and expulsions of children, along with much more incarceration of children is another issue that is horrible. In one case, a New Jersey judge was arrested for taking kickbacks for sentencing more children for longer periods of time to a local private prison, belying any claims that the children should be abandoned.

America has more children in jail and prison than most other developed countries. These children are often horrifically abused by authorities and by each other in systems that are not set up to ensure their safety and rehabilitation, but which are designed to punish and to oppress. Because only the poor and children of color get the most draconian sentences, these children are the abandoned, inaccessible and horrific shame of America.

They must be considered a part of the school systems, and violence against and by them must be added to the totals to ensure a true picture of violence against and by children as a whole. 

There are programs that place many children into organized and supervised positive peer group activities. From sports to crafts to dance training, programs abound, but in a challenging and volatile economy, many of these programs are being reduced or cut. When families cannot afford to pay for such programs, the children are left to organize themselves, which leads to dysfunctional activities, predation by individuals, gangs, deviant cliques, and other negative influences that flow into, through and outside of school.

In summary, there is still plenty of violence among children, even if the violence is not actually occurring on school property. A more realistic story would be told when violence occurs among groups of children that have a particular school as a nexus of their relationships with each other, and when imprisoned, home schooled and dropout children are included in the total school population.










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