School violence has become an increasingly prevalent and worrisome issue in recent years. School violence is characterized as violence that occurs in educational institutions, from the way to and from schools, and also during school events. Violence occurs in many forms, and may include physical methods such as slapping or punching, or more dangerous forms, such as shootings. School violence occurs in several forms, and presents a range of harmful and detrimental effects on children.
As defined by the World Health Organization, or the WHO, violence is the use of physical power or means against another individual, community, or group, thus inflicting harmful effects, such as injury, psychological damage, deprivation, and death (“Definition,” 2015). Bullying constitutes one of the more prominent ways of violence within schools. Bullying may occur between individuals in school, or even through other mediums, such as the Internet, phones, and messaging systems.
Often, children will go to great lengths to avoid the fear of reoccurring punishment by the abuser but not telling adults or the proper authorities. Though the abuser may present a threat to a child’s well-being and health, often, the abused children or victim cannot find the fault in being exposed to such violence and thus do not understand it. They may see it as a justifiable or even necessary event in which they are punished. All too often, bullying inflicts shame in the victim, sometimes making them feel even guilty, thus contributing to their beliefs in maintaining their silence (James, 2014).
Violence in schools presents a range of detrimental impacts, such as stress, post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, proclivity to spread chaos, suicidal tendencies, and also a greater likelihood for affected individuals to develop violent or aggressive behaviors (Elders, 1994). Violence typically occurs in forms of bullying by teachers, by students, cyber bullying, physical harm, or shooting in schools. While deaths from school shootings present a significant and harsh effect, nonfatal injuries can also be prevalent. Minor injuries may include bruises, cuts, and broken bones, while other injuries may be more fatal, such as gunshot wounds or other internal traumas, which may lead death or a permanent impairment. However, nonfatal injuries and other negative health outcomes or behavior may transpire. For example, those who suffer from PTSD may develop an alcohol or drug dependency. Anxiety, depression, fear, and a host of other psychological issues can also arise following school violence (Elders, 1994).
There are a number of risk factors entailed that ultimately lead to violent acts occurring in schools. These factors are not always certain predictors; however, their presence often does correlate to a higher likelihood of violence occurring. Some risk factors among children may include a history of violence in the child’s life, the use of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, associating with delinquents, poor family structure at home, poor performance in school, and poverty. Additionally, research has found that other factors, such as poor supervision in schools, exposure to violent films, peer pressure and/or influence, and emotional instability or anxiety also play a significant role in determining violent behaviors (Wike, 2009).
While certain behaviors in children are often seen first in schools, much of a child’s first behaviors and learning skills come from their home. Studies have shown that children who are regularly exposed to violence or physical or verbal abuse at home have a greater tendency to develop introverted behaviors, and hence face a higher risk of being bullied whilst at school. Additionally, those who are exposed to violence often while at home possess a greater likelihood of developing behavioral and thinking patterns that resort to violence as a solution to a problem. As a result, these children begin to advocate for violence as being a viable option to problems or issues in school (James, 2014).
While this data is certainly concerning as it presents a host of worrisome possibilities, there are ways in which these behaviors can be halted. In order to stop violent acts from occurring in schools, parents and teachers should play more of an engaged role in every student’s life. Teachers can detect problems often before they occur, or notice particular behaviors that may need addressing. As an authority, the teacher can take the necessary steps when students find themselves in volatile situation and utilize professional help, such as the school psychologist. In addition, parents should be responsible for providing a moral framework for their children at home, thus providing the foundation for proper and healthy growth in their children (Jaycox, 2014). When both parents and teachers can work together as a team, they can work to ensure that such violent acts are prevented in school, thus promoting the safety of all children in school.
Unfortunately, the realities of life are so that teachers and parents lack enough time to monitor their children effectively. As urbanization occurs, the schools are consistently becoming overcrowded, making it extremely difficult for every child to be monitored and managed. Additionally, with school budget cuts in recent years, schools are lacking the necessary funds to supply the extra help that is needed.
In summary, school violence has become a more prominent issue in recent years, as a result of bullying, violent behaviors, and shootings. These forms of violence present a host of detrimental effects on children, drastically affecting their quality of education, as well as their lives. Until the underlying issues are addressed more effectively, such as children’s home structures and being subjected to violence or abuse, society will continue to see violence occurring amongst children in schools.
- Definition and typology of violence. (2015). Retrieved November 3, 2015, from http://www.who.int/violenceprevention/approach/definition/en/.
- Elders, J. (1994). Violence as a Public Health Issue for Children. Childhood Education.
- James, K. “Perceived Injustice and School Violence: An Application of General Strain Theory” Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, February 2014.
- Jaycox, L. “School Intervention Related to School and Community Violence” Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, Volume 23, Issue 2, April 2014, Pages 281–293.
- Wike, T. ”School Shootings: Making Sense of the Senseless” Aggression and Violent Behavior, May-June 2009, Vol. 14, No. 3, 162-169.