School Violence

6 June 2016

This paper delves into the issues of school violence which has been plaguing our society for a number of years, causing detrimental effects to the development of our country, the improved lives of our citizens and the well-being of children. Moral development of individuals is closely related to conforming to certain norms and standards of society, and control of antisocial or negative behavior is absolutely necessary in preventing delinquent behavior. The stages of moral development should be understood to delineate the positive or negative impact of non-conformity. After complete moral development, individuals may choose to not conform to social standards and try to move beyond norms.

This is not always negative and would be associated with novelty and creativity. However when moral development is hindered at an early stage of life when children ignore moral values and ethics of society for their own selfish pursuits and there is a complete lack of external control, the moral development is truncated and lead to criminal behavior in later life. A restraining factor in violent acts of crime is rational thinking and if individuals can rationalize, reflect and understand the seriousness of crimes, they would be deterred from engaging in crimes and would thus in turn aid their own moral and personal development.

School Violence Essay Example

Moral development of children would be dependent on several factors and according to psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg, the first stage of moral reasoning is of obedience and avoiding punishment, the second stage is keeping up to expectations of family members and the final stage is moving beyond social conventions. Students that commit violent acts of crime have incomplete moral development as their behavior may be motivated by a desire to break the law and challenge obedience and punishment.

There are different categories of violent behaviours that take place in the school context, including those directly directed towards objects or school material and those directly directed towards individuals such as teachers and peers. The first one would refer to acts of vandalism such as breaking desks or doors, painting names, messages and graffiti’s on the school walls, And the second type would include verbal and physical aggressions towards the teachers or peers, and serious problems of discipline in the class such as disobeying the school internal regulations.

Out of all these behaviours, fights between peers are the most frequent ones, whether it is one to one or between groups. In today’s society, the influence of media, the glorification of money and power, the portrayal of aggression as socially more valued than nurturing, the acceptance of condemnation instead of caring have cultivated in the cognitive schema of our students the perception that any attempt to weigh matters against ethical positions is light and soft – attributes that are asynchronous with the rough and ravenous disposition of those perceived to be successful, wealthy and socially elitist.

Parents and teachers are very influential in a child’s development. We have to be very conscientious and methodical in the way we model behaviours and attitudes regarding students’ growth and development. Around the world, newspapers and the broadcast media report daily on violence by gangs in schools. Of all acts of crime and violence committed among children, those that take place within schools are the most frequent. Students that commit violent acts of crime generally lack the ability to control their emotions and are incapable of expressing their rage without hurting someone in the process. Students that display these behavioural problems usually have very low self-esteem and self-worth and they seek to take out their frustration on uninvolved victims, blaming them for their misfortunes. Youth violence has plagued our society for a substantial amount of years and there are several ways in which it can develop. Some children exhibit these behavioural patterns in early childhood that gradually escalates to more severe forms of aggression before and during adolescence.

Violent students have a jaded, often cavalier attitude toward education and its importance to their future success or personal development. Studies have shown that low intelligence and low levels of achievement in school have consistently been found to be associated with youth violence. Students are in most cases, labeled or stigmatized by other peers regarding their status in society, their background and their academic abilities. This has been an issue for quite some time where students worth, their perceptions of themselves and their inability to conform to what is deemed as socially acceptable behaviour has been questioned by both the individuals and society at large. . Students who feel threatened by their peers have an unquenchable thirst for revenge on anyone who they believe has had a “gold spoon” placed in their mouth since birth.

They view students whose parents are high up the social ladder in society as the reasons for their adversities and they seek revenge on what they believe they are being deprived off. They often lash out in ways that are not considered acceptable behaviour by law but is “fair game “in their eyes. The home environment is thought to contribute immensely to school violence. Parental behaviour and the family environment are central factors in the development of violent behaviour in young people. Long-term exposure to gun violence, parental alcoholism, domestic violence, physical abuse of the child, poor monitoring and supervision of children by parents and child sexual abuse, teaches children that criminal and violent activities are acceptable. These factors are strong predictors of violence during adolescence.

Harsh parental discipline is clearly associated with higher levels of aggressiveness in youths. Violence in adolescence has been strongly linked to parental conflict in early childhood and to poor attachment between parents and children. Single parent families are also indicators that contribute to violent behaviours in students where they often blame themselves for their parent’s separation. The feeling of inadequacy toward their parents and failure to prevent the separation may have detrimental effects on a child thus leading them to commit violent acts. A low level of family cohesion and the absence of other social support, can vastly affect children’s social and emotional functioning and behaviour. This factor contributes to the behaviours that are apparent in schools where violence stems from the home and is then transferred into the schools resulting in unfavorable outcomes. Another indicator influencing student violence is peer influences.

During adolescence, building these relationships with peers is generally considered positive and important in shaping interpersonal connections, but they can also have negative effects. Having delinquent friends in school is associated with violence in young people. The presence of gangs in schools, guns and drugs in a locality is a potent mixture, increasing the likelihood of violence. Students often feel intimidated by their peers who are higher academic achievers than themselves and come from families that are social elites, and in order for them to feel superior; they commit violent acts that they know they have full control over in order to replace any feelings of inferiority. Violence in school is often committed by gangs rather than an individual where a gang would fully support their actions regardless of the consequences.

There is often a sense of superiority felt by those individuals who commit such unnecessary crimes where their actions are praised by their peers and that in turn, boost their ego. The communities in which young people live is an important influence on their families, the nature of their peer groups, and the way they may be exposed to situations that lead to violence. Generally speaking, boys in urban areas are more likely to be involved in violent behaviour than those living in rural areas. Within urban areas, those living in neighborhoods with high levels of crime are more likely to be involved in violent behaviour than those living in other neighborhoods. Students that live in communities that are prone to having criminal activity and gangs will continue to portray an unfavourable bahaviour in the school as well.

The tactics they learn outside the school from persons much older and experienced than they are will be used in the school to bully students, hurt them physically as well as emotionally and possibly end their lives because to the perpetrators, everything is seen as a game to them and they are incapable of showing remorse. This is the unfortunate reality that we live in where students are being bullied for their money, food or jewellery in schools. Granted that there were never any killings in schools, that does not make the students behaviour acceptable. In the Caribbean, there have not been any killings in schools thus far but with violent acts, there is no limit to what a person can do because if the students can commit these acts with a clear conscious, there is no telling what these children are really capable of.

Culture, which is reflected in the inherited norms and values of society, helps determine how people respond to a changing environment. One important means through which violent images, norms and values are propagated is the media. Exposure of children and young people to the various forms of the media has increased dramatically in recent years. New forms of media – such as exposure to television violence and, to a lesser extent, violent video games are related to increased aggressiveness in children, which, in turn, may carry over into school. These factors have multiplied opportunities for young people to be exposed to violence. It is essential that we understand that students model behaviour, therefore whatever they are exposed too, directly influences their behaviour, their thinking, their actions and their beliefs. If students grow up in a stable environment that is conducive to learning and developing intellectually as well as socially their behavioural patterns would conform to what is socially acceptable by law. Students need to have instilled in them, proper religious beliefs, values, practices and principles so that they are able to differentiate right from wrong.

This starts at the home but it is essential that it continues at school so that the practices imparted to them would allow them to understand that violent acts toward peers are wrong and are regarded as unfair and unjust treatment of students. Participating in physical fights, bullying and carrying of weapons are important risk behaviours for youth violence. Involvement in physical fighting is very common among students in many parts of the world. Forms of aggression, bullying and physical fighting in schools lead to very serious forms of violence. The carrying of weapons is predominantly a male activity among young students in today’s society. There are, however, major variations in the prevalence of weapon carrying as reported by adolescents in different countries.

If we were to look at the U.S, the severity of criminal activity that takes place in those schools would surpass the violent acts of crime carried out in Caribbean schools. In the U.S, there were episodes of shootings and stabbings with knives, killing a number of students in the process. The extent to which students would orchestrate their crimes in the U.S would appear to be premeditated as appose to Caribbean crimes where students randomly choose their victims to have a fight with. Whether the crimes are premeditated or random, that could never justify such actions. Violent acts in schools not only affect the individual, but the entire family of the victim.

Parent- and family-based interventions are designed to improve family relations. There is growing evidence that these interventions, especially those that start early and recognize the diverse factors that influence a family, can have substantial, long-term effects in reducing violent behavior at home as well as in schools. Strategies should be focused on modifying community characteristics, including school settings that either promote or inhibit violence. Strategies to change the social and cultural climate to reduce youth violence are often difficult and infrequently used. Approaches that may facilitate lasting change include addressing social norms via public information campaigns; reducing media violence; and reforming educational systems at the institutional level. According to philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, each individual is born with innate goodness.

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