Schools and Delinquency Research Proposal

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¶ … school crime, including the characteristics of individual students, schools and communities that seem most important in explaining school crime. Juvenile violence associated with schools is on the upswing, and each year seems to bring new stories of gun violence, vandalism, and gangs invading the nation's academic institutions, from elementary schools on to institutions of higher education. Several studies have attempted to explain this rise in school crime, and what attributes are most problematic in this issue. There are certain characteristics in common, although it is difficult to consistently predict when school violence will hit a community.

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The nation's young people are dying violently more and more often, as researcher David C. May notes, "Firearm homicides are the second leading cause of death for youngsters 15 to 19 years old and are the leading cause of death for Black males aged 10 to 34 years" (May, 1999, p. 100). Gun crimes are becoming very common in school settings, as are other acts of violence, as well. The availability of guns seems to be increasing, and many police departments across the nation report that gangs, especially well funded drug gangs, have more firepower than their local police departments, creating a lethal mix of violence and drug profits for many young people. Several studies have attempted to uncover the phenomenon that can lead children into violent behavior, including studies that indicate living in a violence-prone neighborhood or being raised by violent-prone family members can lead to continued violent behavior (Ousey and Wilcox, 2005, p. 7). However, other researchers have attempted to refine these findings and discover new liaisons between other cultural and societal factors to help explain the trend of school crime and its continued rise.

Research Proposal on Schools and Delinquency Assignment

On popular theory about school crime is the gang model or group-level peer pressure. It is well-known that most gangs in school support a violent lifestyle, with great attention placed on "honor" and loyalty to one's gang affiliates. Writers Ousey and Wilcox continue, "In addition, a group-level violent subculture may lead to elevated rates of violence via the effect it may have on an individual's exposure to peers who model violent behavior" (Ousey and Wilcox, 2005, p. 7). Thus, some youths may be prone to more violent behavior simply by the company they keep and peer pressure. To fit into a gang, they just condone and perform violent behavior, and one must belong to a gang to fit in the social structure of many communities. Thus, gang activity can lead to higher levels of violence in schools that serve the area, and it can also lead to violence surrounding the schools, leading to fear and a sense of apprehension in the community. Students and their parents may perceive the school as an unsafe place for their children, leading to removing students from school or even students arming themselves with weapons to defend themselves, and those activities can actually lead to more violence and crime in schools, as well. As one author found in a study, one in four students felt it was easy to get guns in their neighborhood, two in three knew someone who brought a weapon to school, and one if four had carried weapons during school (Welsh, 2001, p. 912).

However, there is much other violent behavior going on in schools today, and even if it does not result in injury or death, it is still troubling and abusive behavior. For example, kids still beat each other up after school, except today, the fights are being caught on cell phone cameras and even sometimes set up for filming for broadcast on Internet communities such as You Tube. There is also the petty violence that takes place in almost all schools that includes intimidation, bullying, and forcing students to give up their lunches, money, or even jewelry by more violent students. All of these acts of violence negatively affect students and faculty alike, and can lead to tension and a community of violence and intimidation in many schools. Another author calls these acts "everyday school violence," and notes they are all too common in schools, especially big-city schools (Toby, 1994, p. 169). These acts are much more common than many of the sensational school shootings and invasions that make the nightly news, which makes them much more difficult to manage, control, and eliminate, and yet, it is these everyday acts that can affect students and faculty much more regularly and much deeper.

A composite of those individuals most at risk for offending can be completed after reading many studies into school violence. While each of these risks cannot predict school violence behavior on their own, combine one or more risks and individuals are more likely to behave in a violent manner in school.

Size of the family - Numerous studies indicate that a family consisting of four or more children may create violent offspring. Reasoning includes the fact that parents have less time to spend with each child, less time to devote to school issues, and less money to spend on educational materials (Jenkins, 1997, p. 340).

Structure of the family - Single-parent households may lead to more violence in children, but as with all these scenarios, there are exceptions. Single-parent households that stress more involvement and supervision of school and social activities have less of a risk of producing violent offspring. Stepchildren can be more prone to violent behavior, as well (Jenkins, 1997, p. 340-341)..

Education of the mother - the level of the mother's education can also lead to school violence. Parents who are better educated tend to discuss higher education goals with their children, and they tend to emphasize behaviors that will lead to a college education. They may interact more effectively with teachers and administrators, which helps support the child's acceptance and support of their school, thus leading them to respect the school enough not to harm it in any way (Jenkins, 1997, p. 341).

Gender - Although this pattern is shifting very slightly, girls are found to have less violent tendencies than boys do, and to engage in less criminal and violent activities. Studies consistently show that more boys enter "problem" classrooms set aside for delinquent and violent youths (Jenkins, 1997, p. 341).

Grade or age - Older students tend to engage in more violent or assertive behavior in an attempt to impress younger students and indicate their understanding and rejection of the school and its social order (Jenkins, 1997, p. 341).

Social bonds - Some students simply do not develop the social bonds necessary to preclude them from violent behavior. This means that the students are not receiving the proper messages from family and from faculty, and they fail to develop the social bonds necessary to keep them from behaving violently (Welsh, 2001, p. 918).

Student fears - These can be powerful indicators of school violence, because as student fears rise, they lose faith in the administration and other adults who are failing to protect them from violence, and the students begin to take matters into their own hands, carrying weapons to school or retaliating themselves against bullies and other violent students (Welsh, 2001, p. 914).

It is important to note that these risk factors are not set in stone. A youth with only one risk factor may become increasingly violent in school, while others displaying several factors may never develop violent behavior. Many students who engage in school crime, however, will exhibit one or more of these factors for school violence.

Social bonding is especially important in predicting what type of student will become violent. Author Welsh continues, "According to control theory, schools are a central venue for social bonding (or failure). Those with poor academic or interpersonal skills are likely to experience failure and alienation in school. They do not become attached to school because social interaction is unrewarding" (Welsh, 2001, p. 918). Thus, the individual may be at a higher risk for violent behavior, and the school can be a major factor in that behavior as well. If a student with other violence-provoking factors is alienated at school and faculty does not recognize and work with the student, they may be even more prone to violent behavior. The school and the school environment then, are also a factor that must be addressed in the continuing problem of school violence.

Several types of schools and school designs are more at risk of school violence than others. At play in the risk factors is the child's code of conduct and respect for their school and their schoolmates. Students who have little interaction with the school, school programs, and peers are more prone to violence because they do not have an identity or bond with the school and the principles the school represents. School design is also a very important element in a school's experience of violent behavior. Another writer notes, "Observation has shown that the design and use of school facilities have a direct relationship to code of conduct violations and criminal behavior" (Crowe, 1990, p.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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