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Running head: SCHOOL VIOLENCE AND SOLUTION

 

 

A 5 Pages Term Paper on School Violence and Solution

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School Violence

National Center for Education Statistics surveyed violence in schools in 1996.  It reports that events have again focused the nation's attention on violence in U.S. public schools, an issue that has generated public concern and directed research for more than two decades (U.S. Dept of health).  Despite long-standing attention to the problem, there is a growing perception that not all public schools are safe places of learning, and media reports highlight specific school-based violent acts. The seventh goal of the National Education Goals states that by the year 2000, "all schools in America will be free of drugs and violence and the unauthorized presence of firearms and alcohol, and offer a disciplined environment that is conducive to learning." In response to this goal, the Congress passed the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1994, which provides for support of drug and violence prevention programs. As part of this legislation, the NCES is required to collect data to determine the "frequency, seriousness, and incidence of violence in elementary and secondary schools." NCES responded to this requirement by commissioning a survey, the Principal/School Disciplinarian Survey on School Violence, 1996-97, the results of which are detailed in this report (Violence and Discipline).

The school violence survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1,234 regular public elementary, middle, and secondary schools in the 50 states and the District of Columbia in the spring and summer of 1997. 

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Another research shows that students feel increasingly unsafe during school, or traveling to and from school. A 1996 Children's Institute International Poll of American Adolescents revealed that 47 percent of all teens believed their schools were becoming more violent, 10 percent feared being shot or hurt by classmates carrying weapons to schools, and more than 20 percent were afraid to go to restrooms because these unsupervised areas were frequent sites of student victimization (National Center for Educational Statistics, 1998).

In response to this alarming reality, on April 15, 2000, President Clinton allocated $41 million in grants to 23 communities to make schools safer, to foster children’s healthy development and to prevent aggressive and violent behavior and drug and alcohol use among the nation’s youth. The portion of Congressional allocation for CMHS-funded programs is targeted to improve mental health services for children with emotional and behavioral disorders who are at risk of violent behavior, and to focus on developing the integrated continuum of prevention, early intervention, and treatment.

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The CMHS initiative on school violence focuses on the collective involvement of families, communities, and schools to build resiliency to disruptive behavior disorders (for example, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). It is typically these children who are at risk of violence as perpetrators and victims. Untreated conduct disorders can develop into costly adult mental health and societal problems such as delinquency, substance use, and antisocial personality disorder.  Youth violence extracts an enormous toll on the Nation's resources. Prevention can make a difference in the lives of our children, who must feel safe and be safe in school in order to become competent, resilient adults. 

According to 1996-97 survey study

  • Fifty-seven percent of public elementary and secondary school principals reported that one or more incidents of crime/violence that were reported to the police or other law enforcement officials had occurred in their school during the 1996-97 school year.
  • Ten percent of all public schools experienced one or more serious violent crimes (defined as murder, rape or other type of sexual battery, suicide, physical attack or fight with a weapon, or robbery) that were reported to police or other law enforcement officials during the 1996-97 school year.
  • Physical attacks or fights without a weapon led the list of reported crimes in public schools with about 190,000 such incidents reported for 1996-97 (figure 1). About 116,000 incidents of theft or larceny were reported along with 98,000 incidents of vandalism. These less serious or nonviolent crimes were more common than serious violent crimes, with schools reporting about 4,000 incidents of rape or other type of sexual battery, 7,000 robberies, and 11,000 incidents of physical attacks or fights in which weapons were used.
  • While 43 percent of public schools reported no incidents of crime in 1996-97, 37 percent reported from one to five crimes and about 20 percent reported six crimes or more.

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Crime and violence were more of a problem in middle and high schools than in elementary schools. Middle schools and high schools were more likely to report that they had experienced one or more incidents of any crime and one or more incidents of serious violent crime than elementary schools.

  • Forty-five percent of elementary schools reported one or more violent incidents compared with 74 percent of middle and 77 percent of high schools.
  • Four percent of elementary schools reported one or more serious violent crimes compared with 19 percent of middle and 21 percent of high schools.
  • Of the less serious or nonviolent crimes, the largest ratios of crimes per 100,000 students were found in middle and high schools compared with elementary schools. This was true for physical attacks or fights without a weapon, theft/larceny, and vandalism.
  • In general, elementary schools reported proportionately fewer incidents of serious violent crime. They reported lower rates of physical attacks or fights with a weapon and rape or other type of sexual battery when compared with middle schools and high schools. However, while elementary schools reported lower ratios of robbery compared with high schools, they were not significantly different from middle schools. 
  • Schools that reported serious discipline problems were more likely to have experienced one or more incidents of crime or violence, and were more likely to experience serious violent crime than those with less serious discipline problems.
  • Sixteen percent of public school principals considered at least one serious discipline problem (out of 17 discipline issues that they were asked about) to be a serious problem in their schools in 1996-97. The remaining schools were about equally divided between those that had minor or no discipline problems on all 17 issues (43 percent) and those that reported a moderate (but no serious) problem on at least 1 of the issues (41 percent).
  • Principals in public high schools and middle schools were more likely than public elementary school principals to rate at least one discipline issue as a serious problem in their schools. Thirty-seven percent of high school principals reported at least one serious discipline problem in their schools compared with 18 percent of middle school principals and 8 percent of elementary school principals..

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In both 1990-91 and 1996-97, the three discipline issues most frequently rated, as serious or moderate problems by principals were student tardiness, student absenteeism or class cutting, and physical conflicts among students

Solutions for Preventing School Violence

Schwartz (1996) proposes following steps for the prevention of violence among schools.
Despite these inconsistencies, government, communities, and schools have devised many promising types of anti- violence strategies, focusing on both discipline and social and personal transformation. Most have originated in urban areas, where youth violence was first identified.

Government Initiatives

Legislation now exists at all levels of government to reduce the availability of guns, particularly the sale of weapons to minors. Weapons offenses are adjudicated more harshly in general, and the practice of trying violent juvenile offenders as adults is growing. Some states now hold parents legally responsible for certain behavior of their children, such as truancy and delinquency.

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To deal specifically with violence in schools, President Bill Clinton signed the 1994 Gun-Free Schools Act, mandating a one-year expulsion for students who bring weapons to school and bolstering the "zero tolerance" for weapons policies of some states and school districts already in existence. The Federal government, and most states, also make funds available for prevention activities through anti crime and education legislation. These include anti-gang programs and other very focused prevention education, as well as more general recreational activities.

Community Initiatives

Community activities frequently focus on breaking family cycles of violence. The most effective are long-term interventions providing a range of family services. They involve the collaborative efforts of religious and recreational organizations; social service, public housing and health agencies; the business community; the schools; and law enforcement agencies. For example, programs in parenting skills and family relationships, particularly those focusing on nonviolent living skills and recovery from substance abuse, can protect children from learning violence at home. Programs in conflict resolution and anger management are similar to those discussed below that are designed for students.

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School initiatives

Some districts are restructuring schools to increase student engagement, attendance, and performance. Indeed, school reform programs around the country, especially those requiring strong family involvement, report increased attendance and student satisfaction. Many schools that cannot totally restructure still strive to better meet the education needs of students through more accurate identification of learning disabilities and personal attention. A related reform is downsizing schools, since it has been widely documented that smaller schools have fewer disruptions and incidences of violence.

Schools can also reduce violence by promoting mutual respect among all members of their community, student self-respect, and appreciation for diversity. They demonstrate respect for students through availability of good facilities and resources, such as up-to-date textbooks, laboratories, and computer equipment. It is also believed that the appearance of a school adds to the perception of safety, and that a well cared for school is less susceptible to vandalism and violence. Unfortunately, schools in urban areas, where violence can be a particular problem, are among the most overcrowded and poorly equipped and maintained.

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Institutionalization of a code of conduct demonstrates a commitment to violence prevention and helps staff and students feel safe. The code should clearly explain school rules and punishments for infractions. A cornerstone of all policies is the Federally-mandated "zero tolerance for guns" provision. Some schools also institute zero tolerance provisions for other types of offenses, such as assaulting a teacher, so that violent students can be removed from regular classrooms. Because some disruptive students might welcome expulsion, many policies assert that the school response to certain specified acts would be legal prosecution.

School Security.

The most common school security measure is the monitoring of students when they move through the hallways and in places where they congregate, such as restrooms and the cafeteria. School staff members have traditionally served as monitors, but increasingly schools are hiring security guards to patrol the building and to provide security at events. In the most violence-prone areas schools may form partnerships with the police to visit periodically or even to patrol the halls regularly. However, some educators believe that a police presence has a negative impact on teaching and learning and that the need for them is an indication of administrative failure.

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Teacher Involvement

To dispel fears and help teachers feel supported, meetings about violence issues are held regularly, possibly as a component of general staff meetings. Administrators provide accurate information about violent occurrences and responses to them, involve faculty members in prevention efforts, and listen to their concerns. Also, teachers' input can be invaluable, since it is common for them to have information about the threat of violence (and, also, gang activities) before administrators do, and to have suggestions for how to deal with it based on personal knowledge of the students. Teachers can also meet in groups to discuss ways to establish and maintain control of their classroom and a climate conducive to learning, and to brainstorm strategies for working with disruptive students.
Management, impulse control, appreciation of diversity, and mediation and conflict resolution skills can help prevent youth from engaging in violence as they mature. Early discussions about the negative consequences of gang membership, and providing children with positive ways of getting personal needs met, can protect them from future gang recruitment efforts. Educating young children about the use of guns is also valuable, since accidents have happened as a result of children's naiveté about their danger.

Anti-Gang.

Even more than violence prevention in general, effective anti-gang strategies involve all school operations and staff. They require establishment of a positive school climate, good communications and security, a staff trained in crisis intervention, and a coordinated effort. They also require that schools not only acknowledge a gang presence, but that they actively investigate its extent and accurately determine who the members are, what they do, and where they congregate. Finally, good strategies require schools to acknowledge that preventing, and even reducing, gang activity will be a protracted trial-and-error process during which many different tactics are employed.

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A first step is often establishing and widely publicizing the philosophy that a gang presence (clothing and paraphernalia, as well as behavior) will not be tolerated. Policies that flow from the philosophy include a dress code and prohibition on flashing gang signs, shouting gang slogans, and writing gang graffiti on school or personal property. Discipline measures, meted out consistently, which escalate with the number or severity of infractions, demonstrate school seriousness. 

Student Involvement

A mother proposes that with a nationwide mandatory "Life Skills" class, every student would be given the support and aid needed to learn how to deal with the violence and negativity in our society. These classes would also assist our children with the basic emotional attributes of kindness, tolerance, and objectivity. As our country is rotting from the inside out, we need to reexamine the inside of our souls and the way we react to one another. We cannot ignore our future generations' emotional instability any longer. Such Valuable Lessons could be added to every school's weekly curriculum, under a government mandate, school counselors and other qualified professionals could be utilized to teach our children the fundamentals of life and how to live it. Throughout the entire course of an adolescent's growth, there could be constant research and discussion of the world around them and how they can react to it. Children need to be taught positive reinforcement, self-esteem, and tolerance in an easy to understand and open-ended forum.  This is just as important as learning how to read, write, understand math, science etc. A child can learn all these required subjects and still lack the understanding that will cause him to kill his fellow classmates.  A child can do very well in school and still be abusive to himself or others.  A child can grow up to be president and still lack the understanding that will lead him lie on national television, straight-faced, to the millions of voters who trusted him enough to make him their leader (A Real Solution).

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Reference

A Real Solution To End School Violence (2000).  Message board.  Familywebtalk.com.  From: .  Date: 21 Apr 2000.  Retrieved Dec.2, 2001 from World Wide Web: http://www.familywebtalk.com/forum/_forum/0000000b.htm

Schwartz, W.  (1996).  An Overview of Strategies to Reduce School Violence. ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education. Number 115, October 1996.  EDO-UD-96-4.  ISSN 0889-8049

U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, "Violent Schools - Safe Schools: The Safe School Study Report to the Congress," December 1977.

Violence and Discipline Problems in U.S. Public Schools: 1996-97. (NCES 98-030).  March 1998.  Retrieved Dec.1, 2001 from World Wide Web:
http://nces.ed.gov/pubs98/violence/index.html

 

 
 


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