Violence in Public Schools Essay

Pages: 15 (4632 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Children

A child's normal development can be hindered when the child is bullied -- and that hindrance can carry into adulthood, Horne explains; in fact early childhood bullying can become a "risk factor for adolescents' suicidal behavior" (68). And teachers in elementary school can usually identify a student who will later "…exhibit delinquency and criminal behavior" that is true because elementary school bullies often grow into offenders during their adolescent and young adult years (Horne, 68).

School Violence -- Forms of Bullying

Dorothy Espelage and Susan Swearer edited a book titled Bullying in North American Schools (Second Edition); they define bullying as a "complex phenomenon," deserving of being linked with school violence (Espelage, et al., 2004, 3). Research on bullying indicates that it is a "discriminatory behavior" which includes "physical and verbal behavior within an affective framework (i.e., the intent to harm) (Olweus, 1993; Swearer, Espelage, Vailliancourt, & Hymel, 2010).

Within the concept of bullying there are a set of "…antecedents, behaviors, and consequences," Espelage explains (3). Why do young people bully? The reasons are "complex, multiply-determined, and differently reinforced," Espelage writes. Moreover bullying is a serious problem, and not just because it creates fear and it causes a bullied person to be intimidated. Rather, bullying is a very serious health issue because neuroscientists have reported that being bullied "…causes significant social pain, which, over time, alters brain functioning" (5).

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School Violence -- Bullying by Girls

Much of the literature on bullying involves the bad behavior of boys, but while girls are "less likely than boys to endorse bullying, and especially physical aggression," girls do in fact participate in bullying (Pellegrini, et al., 2004, 94). Girls are known to engage in what is called "relational or indirect aggression," which involves attacking opponents' "social relationships," Pellegrini explains (94).

Essay on Violence in Public Schools the Assignment

Typically, a bullying girl in this context would say something mean, untrue or simply nasty about another person to a third party. The intent is to damage the reputation of a person's social standing. For example, something untrue and ugly is said about girl "B" to girl "C," and once "C" has heard it, that mean-spirited remark may well travel around the school and whether others believe it or not the vicious, scurrilous remark has its intended affect (to embarrass girl "B") (Pellegrini, 94). Hence, girl "B" has to be defensive in her denial of the aspersion that has been launched at her.

Pellegrini goes on to explain that female groups are not usually organized according to "…dominance strategies in the same sense as boys' groups (Maccoby, 1998) (94). Girls rely instead on "indirect aggression" (the opposite of boys, who usually confront their victim directly) which Pellegrini indicates follows along with Darwin's sexual selection theory. The author also suggests that unlike boys, girls are aggressive in indirect ways, which "…minimized direct confrontation and possible harm"; moreover, it is suggested that girls use relational aggression to build female coalitions and alliances "…against rival girls so as to attain social goals" (Pellegrini, 94).

School Violence -- Bullying in Preschool

Laura Hanish and colleagues explain that bullying begins in preschool, which is not a well-known fact in the literature. In fact "…peer-directed aggression has been observed in infants as young as 12 months of age" (Hanish, 2004, 133). And by the time children reach preschool age, peer-directed aggression is quite common," Hanish continues (133). It may come as a surprise to many observers but verbally aggressive behaviors "…peak in frequency during early childhood" and decline in subsequent years; hence bullying and pushy behaviors in general are noticed by young children (in terms of frequency) more often than at any other age.

Twenty percent of kindergartners have reported being "victimized frequently by peers, rates that are considerably higher than those that are typically reported for older youth," Hanish explains (133). Moreover there is a strong "propensity" to be aggressive and to be aggressed against for children at the preschool age (Hanish, 134). That said, the authors point to the fact that there are "significant individual differences" in the level of aggressive behaviors that very young children exhibit; when a preschooler is aggressive often, several times a day, he or she may be trying to express "…a constellation of externalizing problems" (134). Those problems could entail anger that is not well "regulated"; they could mean the child is simply being "oppositional" by demonstrating "disruptive behavior" (Hanish, 134).

School Violence -- Depressed Adolescents are Bullies & Bullied

The data presented by Susan Swearer in her essay shows that because young people suffering from depression tend to experience problems in their relationships with peers, they also tend to become disinterested in activities that other young people are engaged with. The depression also can be accompanied with "…distorted thinking and poor problem-solving skills" (Swearer, 2004, 46). Moreover, the depressed child (up to 7% of adolescents suffer from depression) may suffer from insomnia, fatigue, psychomotor agitation, and suicidal ideation (Swearer, 46).

Given those problems, the depressed adolescent is a candidate for being bullied. This brings in another aspect of violence in schools. According to Swearer's research (Kumpulainen and colleagues 2001) those depressed adolescents that are bullied aren't the only ones suffering from depression; 18% of bully-victims, 13% of bullies, and 10% of victims have been diagnosed with "a depressive disorder" (Swearer, 46). Taking those data a bit further, an analysis of school shootings in the past thirty years reflect the fact that "…79% of the attackers had a history of suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts" (Swearer, 46). And 61% of school shooters had a history of "serious depression" (Vossekuil, Fein, Reddy, Borum, & Modzeleski, 2002) (Swearer, 46).

Violence in Schools -- Weapons Have Been a Problem for Years

The National School Safety Center (NSSC) published a report in 1993 that documented the number of and kinds of weapons students were bringing to high school twenty years ago. The report, presented by Pepperdine University, offers an eerie foreshadowing to the September 11 terrorist attack on New York and Washington. The authors point out that guns and knives are not the only weapons students are bringing to schools. Security personnel in the New York City Public Schools report that in 1993, "…the weapon of choice is currently the box cutter, a small razor blade used by grocery handlers to cut open boxes" (NSCC). Plastic box cutters of course were used to subdue airline personnel in order for the hijackers to take over commercial airliners on 9/11.

The American educational scene twenty years ago was certainly not safe for the average student to attend classes. The NSSC reports that "…as many as 90,000 to 100,000 students carry a gun to school every day." Subsequent to the early 1990s, many high schools have installed metal detectors to prevent weapons from coming into schools, but as some of the recent shootings have shown, if a student has an assault rifle that bursts forth with numerous rounds in a few seconds, he or she can blast their way into a school and there is little to stop them.

Another author that reports the violence in schools in the early 1990s is Denise Bonilla; in her book, School Violence, she asserts that "Children have long killed children in the United States" (Bonilla, 2000, 71). The peak was reached as far as numbers of students killed in the 1992-93 school year, Bonilla reports; "nearly 50 people will killed in school-related violence" (71). The rash of shootings in 1992-93 prompted the U.S. Congress to pass a law banning weapons in schools, Bonilla explains. The author also points out how the killings in schools have changed; that is, many earlier killings in schools were gang-related, or involved "a fight over a girlfriend" (72).

But the shootings have changed in terms of targets; the victims, tragically, have become "…anyone who happened to be in the way" (Bonilla, 73). The shootings at a middle school in Moses Lake, Washington in February 1996, for example, involved a boy (Barry Loukaitis confessed to the shootings) who walked into an algebra class and shot a popular boy "who had teased him" (Bonilla, 72). But then Loukaitis began shooting at students at random and ended up shooting the teacher, Leona Caires, "…in the back. She died with an eraser still in her hand" (Bonilla, 72). Asked later why he continued shooting after he had killed his intended target, Loukaitis said, "I don't know, I guess reflex took over" (Bonilla, 72).

Violence in Schools -- Shooters

According to author Marcel Lebrun, looking at previous school shootings researchers can see some "common patterns" (Lebrun, 2009, 71). One common pattern is that youths that were bullied in their younger years, who were "isolated, harassed, threatened and made to feel secondary" make up the great majority of shooters in schools (Lebrun, 71). Those shooters that were bullied were "…unable to free themselves from victimization"; the only way they could respond is to "…fight back and show others that they were someone in… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Violence in Public Schools" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Violence in Public Schools.  (2013, February 22).  Retrieved January 21, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Violence in Public Schools."  22 February 2013.  Web.  21 January 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Violence in Public Schools."  February 22, 2013.  Accessed January 21, 2021.