When we think of the violence in schools that has been perpetrated in recent times, we all but wonder what is going on in our society. Is this wave of violence isolated incidents or can it be attributed to other factors?
We live in a culture of violence. Children are exposed to death and destruction on a daily basis as an integral part of the society in which we live. Our schools are microcosms of our culture and can contribute to a positive or negative environment. Characteristics of schools that contribute to a positive environment are “collaborative leadership, teacher collaboration, professional development, and learning partnerships” (Finley, 2004, p. 68).
When school violence occurs, a more authoritarian atmosphere arises with punishments and more stringent restraints and rules imposed. These become part and parcel of everyday life in schools and become accepted as the best way to deal with the problems. Simple solutions are given for very intricate problems. Supportive interventions by teachers, achievement of students, and positive school and classroom environments are elements that help prevent school violence (2004). There are always the exceptions to the rules, but overall, creating an atmosphere of positive feelings and help when needed seem more reasonable and at least provide a plan that would limit violence in school. A partnership model where teachers and students have input seems more likely to be a violence deterrent than the dominator model where few make rules and do not listen to the ideas and issues of both the teachers and students (2004).
Some of the characteristics and behaviors seen in those students who commit violent acts are as follows: aggressive and impulsive behaviors, isolation from school activities and peers, academic failure and or struggles, deficit parenting, domestic violence, and child abuse (Perry, 2001). These signs do not ascertain violent behavior but may be indicators with the proper set of circumstances. Inclusion of isolated students needs to be encouraged, as well as education about coping with issues of disrespect and especially bullying need to be included in the curriculum.
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