Bullying at School
The dramatic escalation of violence committed by and against people is shocking (Eron et al., 1994). Violence can be defined as behavior that is intended to injure another person. Violent behaviors come in many forms.
School bullying can be defined in two ways. According to media’s perspective, school violence is something in which an armed student shoots at other students and teachers. The other definition, which seems more appropriate, says school violence is an act against other students that creates a hostile environment and negatively affects the students, either physically or psychologically. School violence includes all types of physical or verbal assaults, threats, coercion, and all forms of harassment.
Adolescent violent behavior and school violence is a common issue of present time. It has been estimated that approximately 16 percent of the high school students per year have been engaged in physical fight or violence. Surveys revealed that according to teachers 3 percent students are always carrying weapons in school. According to the students, the percentage of weapon carrying students is 13 percent while according to law enforcement agencies this percentage is 8 percent. This percentage is going higher up to 20 percent in some urban high schools and up to 50 percent in lower-tier New York schools. Average number of guns in school per day range from 100,000 to 270,000. Most of these weapons are stolen and available on the street with a very cheap price. Studies also revealed that students carrying weapons in schools either for self-esteem or for peer acceptance.
School violence is not a simple problem and it has more long lasting effects on the society and culture than anticipated. First of all violence at school affects the behavior of the victims as well as the violent students themselves. On the other hand the violent students feel that they are important and this importance is due to their violent behavior, such thinking and behavior ultimately affects society as a whole.
Prevention of School Violence
School violence is a very serious problem and both the administration of schools as well as the Government took very serious notice of it. Congress had passed several laws to avoid and to deal with the problem of school violence, some of such laws are:
- Safe School Act of 1994: according to this law, Department of Education provides grants to such school districts, which have a high rate of school violence, to reduce this violence
- Safe and Drug free Schools and Communities Act of 1994: under this law, Department of Education provides grants to states to prevent violence and use of alcohol and drugs in and around schools
- The Family and Community Endeavor Schools Act and the Community School Youth Services and Supervision Grant Program of 1994: under this law, Department of Education, Department of Health and the Human Services provide grants for the development of at-risk children in poor and high crime communities. Under this law, programs like homework assistance, educational assistance, social and athletic activities etc. also organized
But the problem is that the circumstances of school violence differ from school to school and it is not possible for congress to formulate such a law which would be equally benefited for every school. For example throwing money to avoid school violence is not feasible in the cases of schools of poor areas because they might exaggerate their violence to get more money.
The first set of methods of preventing school violence fall under the category of school management. School Management has adopted the following techniques to cope with the problem of School violence
- Behavior and Discipline Codes: different behavior and discipline codes have been adopted by American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to improve student’s conduct. For example Texas Federation of Teachers had launched Zero Tolerance campaign to prevent all kinds of aggressive and violent behaviors of students in 1993. According to the statistics, it has reduced the violence to students 6 percents, to themselves 33 percent and the number of assaults to other students by 10 percent
- Suspension and Expulsion: suspension and expulsion is a common threat to prevent the violence in schools. After the Gun-Free Schools Act, states became strict enough to expel any student who brings weapon in the school. It has been noticed that, as far as suspension is concerned, in-school suspension is more effective than out-school suspension because some students consider out-school suspension as a week-long holidays. However, Suspension and Expulsion do not prove as successful as it sounds.
- Criminal Penalties: some of the school violence activities are also criminal activities as well. Many schools do not like police and criminal agencies interference but they are working together with court officials, probation officers etc. to avoid the criminal behavior of the students
- Alternative Education: this is a program launched for very disruptive and violent students. Violent and disruptive students are often sent to alternative education programs. Similarly, sometimes violent students were also sent to private schools for problem children at public expense
As discussed already, these programs focus on changing violent students’ social and physical environment. Some of such programs may include:
- Security measures: increased security measures like metal detectors for identifying weapons, video cameras (Closed Circuit Television) or the security guards in the school may increase the safety and crime and violence prevention in schools. It is recommended that more security measures should be allocated to high schools than elementary schools. The use of increased security measures are effective and strong deterrence for students
- Uniforms: use of uniform in schools by students may also help to reduce violence because it decrease the chances of concealing of weapons in the cloths, decrease the probability of fight over dress jealousy and decrease the probability of robbery of expansive jackets and shoes etc.
- School Size: school size is also an important reason of increasing violence in schools. It has been noticed that smaller schools are something like a community of learners where there is a less chance of violence than school with large number of students
- Gang-Prevention Program: gang-prevention programs is a good school violence prevention program, which teaches the students how to avoid participation in gangs and what are the alternatives available
- Self-esteem: many studies revealed that violent students lack self-esteem, confidence and power. Thus the programs started to boost self-esteem among violent students prove to be useful to prevent school violence
- Racial differences: In order to avoid cultural and racial differences and to prevent violence caused by it can be prevented by good multi-cultural counseling
Humans tend to seek pleasure and avoid pain, and well step outside normative boundaries to do so. The best defense is prevention- that is, effectively socializing the child during the first six or eight years of life to obey social norms. If individuals do not learn social control, society can only try to limit their opportunities to seek pleasure at the expense of others.
It has been hoped and believed that if the above-mentioned strategies have been implemented properly it would really help to reduce the rate of school bullying and violence.