Issues of Violence in Schools

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With an increased rate in juvenile delinquency, I chose to discuss the violence in schools; underlining the root of the issue, what policies are currently in place, and what steps are needed to create a more effective policy to resolve the issue.

Some of the risk factors of school and youth violence come from prior history of violence, drug, alcohol and tobacco use, association with delinquent peers, poor family function, poor grades in school and poverty in the community.  “Data reported through a Fact Sheet by the CDC Division of Violence Prevention stated school violence is youth violence that occurs on school property, on the way to or from school or school-sponsored events, or during a school- sponsored event. A young person can be a victim, a perpetrator, or a witness of school violence. School violence may also involve or impact adults. Youth violence includes various behaviors. Some violent acts—such as bullying, pushing, and shoving—can cause more emotional harm than physical harm. Other forms of violence, such as gang violence and assault (with or without weapons), can lead to serious injury or even death” (Understanding School Violence, 2016).

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We have seen an increase in violence throughout our nation, reflecting such a chilling disregard for the life of others.  People are now becoming judge and jury in solving even the smallest disagreements.  These acts have trickled down a tremendous negative impact on our younger generation.  Through the violence in video games, movies and regular television shows, these acts are being received as the everyday normalcy.  It is as though society has become immune to the news reports.

Webster defines violence as behavior involving physical force intended to hurt damage or kill someone or something. An act of cruelty.  Based on this definition, if violence is an act of cruelty, it is not limited to weapons.  “A survey on Youth Risk Behavior conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated nearly 8 percent of students had been in a physical fight on school property one or more times during the 12 months before the survey.  Nationwide, 6 percent of the students had not gone to school at least 1 day during the 30 days before the survey because they felt they would be unsafe at school or on their way to or from school” (Kann, McManus & Harris, 2015).   “CDC also reported through their case findings that most school-associated violent deaths occur during transition times – immediately before and after the school day and during lunch.  Nearly 50 percent of homicide perpetrators gave some type of warning signal, such as making a threat or leaving a note, prior to the event” (Anderson, Kaufman, Simon, Barrios, Paulozzi & Ryan, 1994-1999).  School violence also affects others.  CDC’s findings reflected from 1992 – 2009, the total number of student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deaths ranged from 33 -63; indicating an average total of 60 during that period.  Among youths 5 -18, homicide is the second leading cause of death.

There are many factors that play a part in the influences of children.  Speaking with an officer that works in a middle school, school related violent deaths stem from bullying, and the person coming to a conclusion that someone has to pay for their pain.  He also stated that  fights occur from the lack of discipline in the home.  If a child is exposed to acts of disrespect to authority and others, they assume this is okay.  Often times, children model what they are frequently exposed to and do not question whether it is right or wrong.  What we formerly considered a safe learning environment for our children, is slowly becoming a war zone and grave site.

A report on school crime and student safety is published each year by the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice.  School Policy focuses on creating positive, safe, and supportive learning environments.  The benefit of school policy is to help manage school districts to reach a unified goal of serving the well-being of the students.  The significance of school policy is to clarify to the public exactly what the educators are accountable for.

Based on a School Safety Programs and Policies report conducted by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, “during the 1990s, Congress and the White House worked in tandem to address violence and disciplinary problems in schools. The 1992 reauthorization of the JJDPA created new programs to combat the presence of gangs in schools.  Two years later, the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 required local education agencies (LEAs), as a condition of receiving federal education assistance, to have in effect a “zero tolerance” policy. This policy required the expulsion from school for at least one year of any student who brought a gun, knife, or other weapon to school.  Another key piece of legislation, the Safe Schools Act of 1994, directed the Secretary of Education to make competitive grants to eligible LEAs for projects aimed at ensuring that all schools are safe and free of violence” (Brock, Kriger, & Miro, 1990-2016).

Although these policies, did produce some change in the projection of data stating that schools were becoming safer, fatal school shootings were still being reported in late 1997 and early 1998.  “In August 1998, U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released a report titled Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools. This guide provided schools and communities with information about identifying the early warning signs and action steps to prevent and respond to school violence. Every school in the nation received a copy of the guide.  Two months later, ED and the DOJ jointly published the first Annual Report on School Safety. This report contained an analysis of existing national school crime data; examples of strategies considered effective in reducing school violence, drug use, and class disruption; recommended actions that parents could take locally to combat school crime; and a catalog of resources available to schools and communities to help create safe, disciplined, and drug-free schools.  On October 15, 1998, President Bill Clinton convened the first White House Conference on School Safety, bringing together students, parents, and teachers from communities impacted by school violence, as well as experts on issues related to the safety of children both in and out of school.  During his keynote address, Clinton announced two new large-scale school safety discretionary grant programs: the COPS in Schools program to fund the hiring and training of school resource officers, and the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative to fund interagency, community-based violence prevention and behavioral health programs for school-age children and youth.  The Clinton administration envisioned the COPS in Schools program, administered by the DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), as an effort to expand community-oriented policing to schools nationwide” (Brock, Kriger, & Miro, 1990-2016).

During various presidential administrations, these policies were reviewed and revised hoping to prevent the ongoing struggle of violence in the schools.  “In June 1999, the shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado claimed the lives of 14 students, a teacher and of the 2 assailants.   October 2006, a fatal shooting of five Amish school students in Lancaster, Pennsylvania took place.  Six month later the shooting at Virginia Tech claimed the lives of 33 victims” (Brock, Kriger, & Miro, 1990-2016).

Today the nation is still grieving these loses and in search for an affect policy to address the issue. How do we really get to the root of the problem?  If research states that warning signs are given before these incidents occur, why is there not training to help administration in the schools identify these warning signs? As a social worker, it is my responsibility to observe and evaluate.

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  • Shiota, Leah. “Definition of School Policies.” Synonym, Accessed 21 September 2018.
  • Anderson M., Kaufman J., Simon T.R., Barrios L., Paulozzi L., Ryan, G., et al. School-associated violent deaths in the United States, 1994–1999. JAMA 2001;286(21):2695–2702. Understanding School Violence. (2016). Retrieved from: Retrieved from:



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Issues Of Violence in Schools. (2019, Jan 19). Retrieved from