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School Violence in the US Essay
School, Violence, US Essay
The school policies in the US have not been effective in addressing school violence. It is true that most schools in the US do not have laws to address school violence. Most if not all the schools apply the ‘zero-tolerance policies’ which clearly have not been as effective since violence in schools continue to be an issue of concern not only in individual schools but also nationally. It is time we looked the other way and came up with more effective measures that will enable us to curb the issue of school violence (Bell, 14).
School violence in the US has been going on for ages and none of the measures applied nationally and in schools have been able to counter it. Staples describes violence in school as an individual effort toward destructive behavior. He says that it is mostly carried out by students in a bid to gain significance.
According to Staples, violence in schools is more than what we think it is. He asks, ‘What if violence is more than this?’ In order to have a clear understanding of school violence, we have to relate it to the world and look at it as something wrong from the root. This way we will be able to understand it and consequently find a suitable way to counter it (Staples, 31).
The zero-tolerance policies that have been used in schools date back in the 1990s and was adopted due to the increased cases of shooting in schools. These policies call for the immediate expulsion of the student who performs any violent act. The gun-free schools act is also part of the zero-tolerance policies. Any student found who brings a gun to school is expelled with immediate effect.
The misconducts covered under the zero-tolerance policies range from one school to the other but converge at some point. Nearly all schools practice zero tolerance for students who carry weapons or bring drugs to school, fight or threaten other students, or perform any disruptive act or an act of insubordination (Ruiz, 803).
The aim of the zero-tolerance policies was to ensure maximum safety in schools. There is however no evidence that these policies have been effective. Only the rate of suspensions in schools has gone high while security continues to be a concern. There are various reasons why these policies have not been as effective as they were expected to be.
One of the reasons is that they have been cases where the policies are not applied evenly and fairly. Most of the students who carry out violence in schools do not really care about being suspended and for this reason; the zero-tolerance policies do not affect them in any way (Monteiro and Rudi, 215).
Wike and Fraser analyze the factors that are associated with violence in school. These are not factors that can be countered through zero-tolerance policies. While many of the cases of violence are those of students acting against their peers, there are also cases of non-students using schools as a setting to perform acts of violence.
For example, the case where a milk truck driver entered Amish school, took five girls hostage for hours before killing them and himself too. This shows that we need measures more that the zero-tolerance policies if at all we are to succeed in countering violence in schools (Wike and Fraser, 164).
Most acts of violence in school are caused by painful memories borne by the perpetrators. At the time of deciding to carry out violence, the student usually is not in the right state of mind and they perform the acts without stopping to think of the consequences. Violence may also be triggered by the school or peer factors. Most students feel frustrated by their peers through either act of bullying and such.
At some point, they cannot take it and result in violence which can be as extreme as to cause death. Schools also have policies that frustrate students especially academic policies. The student ends up being stressed which may cause them to result in violence (Wike and Fraser, 164).
People are so bitter with life and this has played a significant role in school violence. Harris in his work addresses this concept. Life has so many rules; people telling you what to do and what not to do. This way there is no deciding on your own. One cannot enjoy their freedom and they always have to copy someone else.
The author expresses so much bitterness in this that he wants to get rid of everyone. He is mad at anyone who feels like they are important that everybody else (Harris, 26). He says, ‘…snotty toadies at school…think they are higher than everybody else…should be shot.’
Not everyone goes to school because they want to study. Some of the students go to school because the system advocates that every child should go to school. These students do not care to take part in any act of violence because they have no business being in school and the zero-tolerance rules do not scare them. They feel that the schedule at school is exhausting and that they would rather be doing something else. Such students will not hesitate to result to violence at the slightest provocation (Harris, 26).
This is a dangerous group to deal with and no policies will stop them. They believe in changing whatever they feel is not good for them. They support violence and do not hesitate to use it ‘…because your dadsy and mumsy told you blood and violence is bad, you think it is the law of nature?’
This shows the negative attitude that these students have (Harris, 26). They believe that they are so different from other people and that they have every right to do what they want. They always feel like other people try to intimidate them and feel the need to defend themselves all the time. They feel like they are the most reasonable people and that other people are always out to get provoke them.
These are some of the characteristics of students who practice school violence. It is clear that these kinds of students cannot be tamed using zero-tolerance policies. After all, these policies are just like any other rules that they are so fed up of. They believe that life is all about rules, people telling you what to do and what not to do. These students already have a negative attitude towards rules and enforcing further rules on them makes it even worse. It is important to have rules because institutions cannot run without rules. However, we need more than rules and policies to address school violence (Kennedy-Lewis, 147).
Most of the students who bring weapons that turn out to be violence weapons in school do so because they have a fascination with these weapons. This may be caused by addiction to video games and movies. The exposure of students to violent stuff coupled up with the curiosity characteristic of teenagers contributes to them carrying weapons to school and the strong urge to put those weapons to use.
Before anyone realizes it, the damage has been caused and even if the zero-tolerance policies are applied, there will be a victim who might be dead or incapacitated (Wike and Fraser, 164).
Teenage is usually the time when relationships have the most impact on students. Most of the students in high school and colleges, where most school violence occurs, are in relationships. In case these relationships fail, the students fall into depression, become anti-social and withdrawn, among many other toxic outcomes. Such students lose focus in life and result in violence. They feel like their life is over and nothing scares them. The same case applies to students who have been victimized by their fellow students or teachers. The outcome is toxic and could be very harmful (Wike and Fraser, 165).
All these reasons and factors behind school violence do not cover issues that can be prevented through zero tolerance. Not to mention that the zero-tolerance policies act after the violence has taken place. This means that the impact of the violence will still be felt. Even if the perpetrator of violence will go on expulsion or even to jail, someone already may be deal, incapacitated or mentally traumatized and that cannot be changed.
What we need are not measures to punish people who take part in school violence, rather we need measures to prevent this violence from taking place (Cuellar and Sara, 99)). This way, there will not be offenders to punish. Punishment has always proved ineffective in countering bad habits. How about we adopt the ‘prevention is better than cure policy?’ We need preventive measures and strong ones if we are to win this war that has been going on for a long time.
Someone may not agree with me on this because they feel that we cannot operate institutions without rules. That is true. Institutions need rules to run and put everything on track. However, you will all agree with me that rules do not solve everything. Some issues require more than just rules. As long as we want to train students to take responsibility for their actions in a bid to raise them into responsible citizens, we must also not be blind to other factors related to this.
We must consider the victim and the perpetrator as well. Someone does not just wake up one day and decide, ‘well now am going to shoot someone or beat someone,’ for no reason. There must be a reason and we cannot close our eyes to this. Whether it is a problem with the victim or the person carrying out the violence it has to be addressed.
Teachers, parents, and students should all come together and decide on better means to counter school violence. I would suggest something like education on the various aspects of life. Let not our education system only be focused on curriculum education. Peer education is equally important. Let us train our students on how to manage relationships, how to maintain healthy relationships, how to deal with rejection and disappointments in life, among others.
These are issues that will affect their lives at some point and unless they know how to deal with them, they will always lose. Losing means they will result in harmful activities not only to them but their peers and school violence may be one of those. We must always teach our students to win no matter what (Thompson, 325).
Strengthening security in the school may also be an effective measure. As Wike and Fraser say, ‘…increasing security and limiting access are often identified as high priorities in deterring school violence.’ Many of the weapons that find their way to school are a result of poor security measures.
Schools should, therefore, be able to limit access to the premises and ensure that a thorough check is carried out on anyone who gets into the school including the students. Each school should also make an effort to have resource officers in the school compound. These may provide back-up in case of violence and hopefully, reduce the impact of the violence (Wike and Fraser, 166).
The focus should also be given to the school climate. Schools should be focused on building strong relationships among students and between the students and staff. This will consciously reduce cases of rejection and bullying and consequently violence.
Training students on effective problem-solving and conflict resolution methods will also go a long way in helping counter school violence. Students should be taught to solve disputes among themselves and while this will help them build their social skills develop their character, it will also help the school to counter-violence (Wike and Fraser, 166).
Guidance and counseling sessions need to be arranged often for the sake of the student’s mental health. In these sessions, students will be taught how to make decisions and set goals. This will be helpful to those students who feel that going to school is like a punishment imposed on them by the system.
It will help them have focus and a purpose in life. The school should also make an effort to identify students who are needy and make an effort to help them; this applies to mentally or any other kind of needs that a student may have. Ensure students do not fall into depression or have a feeling of being inadequate because this is what gradually turns them violent (Skiba and Daniel, 4).
School violence has been going on for a long time and unfortunately no effort to counter the issue has been successful. This has been caused partly by the fact that the measures have been more focused on laws. The zero-tolerance measures are the most commonly used to counter violence in schools and these have not been effective due to the many factors that determine school violence. It is time we focused on other measures. Preventive measures will be more effective in this case. Enhancing the security on the premises as well as student education are some of the measures that will go a long way in countering violence in schools.
Bell, Charles. “The hidden side of zero tolerance policies: The African American perspective.” Sociology compass 9.1 (2015): 14-22. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/soc4.12230
Cuellar, Alison Evans, and Sara Markowitz. “School suspension and the school-to-prison pipeline.” International Review of Law and Economics 43 (2015): 98-106. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014481881500040X
Harris, Eric. “SCHOOL SHOOTERS.INFO”. (2014): 1-3
Kennedy-Lewis, Brianna L. “Second chance or no chance? A case study of one urban alternative middle school.” Journal of Educational Change 16.2 (2015): 145-169. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10833-014-9242-0
Monteiro, Joana, and Rudi Rocha. “Drug battles and school achievement: evidence from Rio de Janeiro’s favelas.” Review of Economics and Statistics 99.2 (2017): 213-228. Retrieved from https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/REST_a_00628
Ruiz, Rocio Rodriguez. “School-to-prison pipeline: An evaluation of zero tolerance policies and their alternatives.” Hous. L. Rev. 54 (2016): 803. Retrieved from https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/hulr54§ion=26
Skiba, Russell J., and Daniel J. Losen. “From reaction to prevention: Turning the page on school discipline.” American Educator 39.4 (2016): 4. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1086522
Staples, Scott. “Violence in Schools: Rage against a Broken world.” (2000): 30-41. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/000271620056700103
Thompson, Jeremy. “Eliminating zero tolerance policies in schools: Miami-Dade county public schools’ approach.” BYU Educ. & LJ (2016): 325. Retrieved from https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/byuelj2016§ion=16
Wike, Traci & Fraser, Mark. “Shoot shootings: Making sense of the senseless.” (2009): 162-169.
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