Violence not just school shootings. It includes verbal
Violence among young people in our society has been increasing dramatically. According to Janell Blanco, a criminal justice professor, school violence is defined as, “any activity that can create a disturbance in an educational system. It’s not just school shootings. It includes verbal and physical altercations. It is also bullying through electronic means or social media, threats, weapon use, or gang activity” (Blanco). Not only have these violent acts been occurring in the streets, but in our school systems as well. Schools are becoming unsafe for our children at an alarming rate. A place that was once supposed to be the one space you were guaranteed nothing bad could ever occur, is now a place students attend unsure if their school could be the next target. Many schools located in small communities have the harmful mindset that because they are in a close-knit community, nothing bad could ever happen. Which then leads to threat policies that are inefficient and rarely practiced. CausesIf there is a plan to reduce and hopefully eliminate school violence in our nation, it must first be understood where it comes from and the signs and causes that come with it. If these causes can be learned and understood, the factors could possibly be eliminated from the lives of children. Since the 1990’s, the internet and everything it comes with, has been one of the leadings causes of violence in schools. Many of the popular video games children are playing nowadays include high levels of violence. Popular video games being played by children are showing signs of being more proviolent. “The Ohio State researchers found that high school students who had more exposure to violent video games held “more pro-violent attitudes, had more hostile personalities, were less forgiving, believed violence to be more normal, and behaved more aggressively in their everyday lives” (Costly). Whereas a capable adult would not be greatly affected by violent video games, the minds of young people are highly impressionable and easily susceptible to the promotion of violence. Correlation between violent video games and aggressive behavior in children and young adults has been linked. “Behavioral problems in some children give rise to certain disorders in their personality, like problems in communication, lack of self-esteem, and impulsiveness” (Causes of Student Violence in School). These children often go years with undiagnosed disorders. Not having proper treatment leads to outbursts that are sometimes violent. These are children that are also more naturally aggressive compared to their other peers. The minds of children are the most impressionable. They pick up easily on the things they hear and see at home therefore, “Domestic violence and physical, psychological or substance abuse at home makes kids believe that aggression is accepted in the society” (Causes of Student Violence in Schools). Home life plays a vital part in children’s behavior. Constantly growing up seeing abuse, children know no other acceptable form of aggression. Therefore, further encouraging their harmful behavior. Adults who make it a habit of violating the law fail to instill a proper sense of discipline in their children and families. A 2006 report released by the Vermont National Education Association mentions the case Western-Kent State, which maintains that parental alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and having the presence of guns at home may further encourage a child to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Adults living in communities where poverty and joblessness are more prevalent often resort to unorthodox ways to receive the means to provide for their family. Risk Factors The majority of research that has been done on identifying risk factors typically only show the risk factors as an individuals as opposed to keeping in mind the influence of other risk factors. The accumulation of risk factors is more important than any individual factor. According to statistics, children who are abused and/or neglected tend to come from low-income, single parent households, in disadvantaged communities that are plagued with violence, drug use, and a high level of crime. The more risk factors a child is being exposed to, the greater the likelihood that he or she will too become violent. According to Herrenkohl et al, one study has found that a 10 year old exposed to 6 or more risk factors is 10 times more likely to be violent by age 18 as a 10 year old exposed to only one risk factor. Being exposed to or involved in violence can disrupt the normal development of both children and adults resulting in lasting effects on their mental, physical, and emotional health. Aggression–which is characterized as aggressive and disruptive behavior, verbal aggression, and aggression towards objects–has been found in many studies to be a moderate risk factor among boys. There has been some evidence that proves that physical aggression is what is responsible for the observed effect. Statistics According to the organization, Voice of the Youth, these are some statistics found that show how prevalent violence in schools is In 2014, there were about 486,400 nonfatal violent victimizations at school among students 12 to 18 years of age. “7.8% reported being in a physical fight on school property in the 12 months before the survey. 5.6% reported that they did not go to school on one or more days in the 30 days before the survey because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to or from school. 4.1% reported carrying a weapon (gun, knife or club) on school property on one or more days in the 30 days before the survey. 6.0% reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property one or more times in the 12 months before the survey. 20.2% reported being bullied on school property and 15.5% reported being bullied electronically during the 12 months before the survey” Students who feel threatened by bullying also reported having harmful thoughts towards the school and their peers. According to surveys taken between 1991 and 2015, students have reported being bullied by an average of 9% as the years increased. The creation of the internet and social play a large role in this. In a 2015 nationally-representative sample of youth in grades 9-12, 16.2% reported carrying a weapon with them. In 2014, at an average of 12 young people between the ages of 10 to 24 were victims of homicide each day. The majority of these murders occurred on or near school property and were oftentimes premeditated. Prevention Violence in schools can be prevented. Acknowledging and understanding that mental health is very real and working towards finding ways to make it better is an important step in prevention. Signs and symptoms of mental disorders need to be identified as early as possible in order to be treated as early as possible. According to an article titled Violence Prevention, “By enhancing parent involvement in both academic and social aspects of their children’s school experiences – including involving parents in prevention programs – family cohesion and communication are improved” (Violence Prevention). These are some protective factors listed on CDCBeing connected to family and adults in the communityComfortable with talking to parents about problemsParents’ high expectations with schoolConsistent parental involvement Membership in extracurricular activities Strong, close relationships with peersPositive school environments that have clear behavior rules and consequences, and intensive supervisionBy taking preventitive measurements and ensuring that children are in an enriched, healthy environment, violence in schools can be dramatically decreased.