School Violence Essay

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What Methods Can Schools in the United States Implement to Prevent Violence in Schools?


Statement of the problem

The recent upswing in high-profile violent incidents in the United States has focused increasing attention on the causes of this public health threat and what types of response are most appropriate. The debate over the most appropriate responses to increased violence in American society has also extended to the nation’s schools. Although it has always been present to some extent, violence has become a major problem in the nation’s schools in recent years (Kelly, 2010; Killam & Roland, 2014). While the potential for enhanced awareness of the problem and improved reporting mechanisms may account for some of the reported increase in school violence in recent years (Blosnich & Bossarte, 2011), the research that follows will clearly show that any level of violence in the schools can be enormously harmful to students and staff alike (Robers & Kemp, 2012), making investigations of this problem timely, relevant and important for policymakers and educators today. This need directly relates to the purpose of the proposed study as discussed further below.

Purpose of the study

The purpose of the proposed study will be to explore the secondary literature and collect primary data concerning the causes of violence in the nation’s schools and what steps can be implemented to prevent it. This purpose is highly congruent with the guidance provided by Johnson, Burke and Gielen (2012) who note that the vast majority of schools in the United States (90%-plus) have already implemented school-based initiatives that are designed to prevent school violence. In addition, school-based violence prevention programs can also help reduce the incidence of violent behaviors such as bullying through coursework in empathy and character building (Gibbone & Manson, 2010).


The following definitions of key terms will be used for the purposes of the study proposed herein.

Methods: This term will include both school- and community-based initiatives that are specifically designed to prevent school violence.

School violence: This term will generally include all forms of physical and emotional abuse, including teasing, bullying, stabbings, shootings, assaults, and fights involving students (King, 2014).

Violence: More specifically, the proposed study will use the definition of this term provided by the World Health Organization which states this is “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting In injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation” (cited in Kelly, 2014, p. 42).

Research questions

The following research questions will be used to develop the information needed to confirm or refute the proposed study’s hypotheses which immediately follow.

What are the main causes of violence in the schools?

What methods have proven effective in preventing school violence?


The following hypotheses will be used to guide the proposed study’s research into the causes of school violence and what steps can be implemented to prevent it:

H1: There is a statistically significant correlation between gang activity and the prevalence of violence in a school.

N1: There is no statistically significant correlation between gang activity and the prevalence of violence in a school.

H2: There is a statistically significant correlation between school violence and the racial makeup of a school’s student body.

N2: There is no statistically significant correlation between school violence and the racial makeup of a school’s student body.

H3: School-based interventions are more effective in preventing violence in the schools compared to community-based initiatives.

N3: School-based interventions are not more effective in preventing violence in the schools compared to community-based initiatives.


The proposed study anticipates three main limitations as follows:

The number of educators who will be willing to participate in a survey concerning the causes of violence in the schools will likely be relatively small compared to the educators who are actively teaching in the United States and the findings that emerge from the synthesis of the secondary and primary data may not be reflective of the nation as a whole.

The Midwestern school district from which the respondent educators will be drawn may not be representative of other school districts across the country.

The potential for researcher bias concerning which studies will be included for analysis is always present during the conduct of a literature review (Karimov, Brengman & Van Hove, 2011).

Significance of the Study

The proposed study is significant for a number of reasons, especially with respect to the need to identify optimal responses to a multifaceted and complex problem (Fox & Burstein, 2010). For example, students who are victims of violence as well as those who witness violent acts in their schools can experience a wide range of adverse health care outcomes that can extend into adulthood (Grantham, 2013). Although there remains a lack of longitudinal studies that have managed to track the young victims of violence into adulthood, the research to date indicates that young people who experience or witness violent acts can suffer from (a) externalizing behaviors (e.g., conduct problems, aggression); (b) internalizing problems (e.g., fears, phobias, depression, somatic complaints); (c) a diminished sense of self-worth; (d) social and emotional adjustment difficulties; (e) difficulties maintaining positive relations with peers and adults; (f) decreased social competence; (g) posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); (h) anxiety; (i) depression; (j) elevated anger levels; (k) increased delinquent behaviors; (l) increased violent behaviors; and (m) elevated potential for involvement in abuse relationships in the future (Smith & Eklund, 2015, p. 21).

Likewise, the short-term adverse effects of violence in the schools on teachers and educational staff include acute stress disorder (e.g., anxiety, dissociation, numbing, depersonalization, and dissociative amnesia) as well as long-term effects (e.g., PTSD, illness, divorce, burnout, and career change) (Brock, 2009, p. 16). In sum, the effects of school violence can be life-altering and despite being made a national priority, this problem not only remains unresolved, it appears to be worsening.

Literature Review

Data collection

The data for the preliminary literature review will be collected from university and public libraries, as well a reliable online academic research resources such as EBSCOHost and Questia. The data search was limited to peer-reviewed and scholarly texts that were published in the English language with a preference for those published within the last 5 years. The search terms used for the preliminary literature review included “school violence,” “bullying,” “school assaults,” “student on student assaults,” “assaults against teachers,” and so forth. The results of the preliminary literature review are presented below.


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Blackler, Z. (2013, February 15). The view from here - US - gun violence triggers plans to srm teachers. Times Educational Supplement, 5031, 18.

Blosnich, J. & Bossarte, R. (2011). Low-Level violence in schools: Is there an association between school safety measures and peer victimization? Journal of School Health, 81, 107-113.

Brock, S. E. (2009, January/February). The impact of school violence on school personnel. National Association of School PsychologistsCommunique, 37(5), 16.

Brown, C. M. & Meredith, C. (2014, June). Connecting community and culture. Journal of Education and Learning, 3(1), 134-137.

Crews, G. A. (2014, January 1). School violence perpetrators speak: An examination of perpetrators’ views on school violence offenses. Journal of the Institute of Justice and International Studies, 14, 41-44.

Devoe, J. F. & Bauer, L. (2011). Student victimization in U.S. schools: Results from the 2009 school crime supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey. Washington, DC: United States Education: National Center for Education Statistics.

Fox, J. A. & Burstein, H. (2010). Violence and security on campus: From preschool through college. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.

Gersten, R., Fuchs, L. S. & Compton, D. (2005, Winter). Quality indicators for group experimental and quasi-experimental research in special education. Exceptional Children, 71(2), 149-153.

Grantham, D. (2013, May 1). Mass shootings, criminal violence: Can't be predicted, but can be mitigated. Behavioral Healthcare, 33(3), 46-49.

Grinnell, R. M. Jr. & Unrau, Y. A. (2005). Social work research and evaluation: Quantitative and qualitative approaches. New York: Oxford University Press.

Janson, G. R. & King, M. A. (2006, April). Emotional security in the classroom: What works for young children. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 98(2), 70-74.

Johnson, S. L., Burke, J. G. & Gielen, A. C. (2012). Urban students' perceptions of the school environment's influence on school violence. Children and Schools, 34, 92-102.

Karimov, F. P., Brengman, M. & Van Hove, L. (2011). The effect of Website design dimensions on initial trust: a synthesis of the empirical literature. Journal of Electronic Commerce Research, 12(4), 272-273.

Kelly, S. (2014, January). Overview and summary: Societal violence: What is our response? Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 19(1), 42-45.

Kelly, S. (2010). The psychological consequences to adolescents of exposure to gang violence: An Integrated review of the literature. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 23(2), 61-73.

Killam, W. K., Ronald, C. B. & Weber, B. (2014, Fall-Winter). Violence prevention in middle school: A preliminary study. Michigan Journal of Counseling, 40(2), 4-7.

King, K. K. (2014, January) Violence in the school setting: A school nurse perspective. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 19(1), 58-61.

Lawrence, S. A. & Johnson, T. (2015, March 1). Common planning process of middle school English language arts teachers. Middle School Journal, 46(4), 17-21.

Mauch, J. E. & Park, N. (2013). Guide to the successful thesis and dissertation: A handbook for students and faculty. New York: Marcel Dekker.

Neuman, W. L. (2009). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. New York: Allyn & Bacon.

Riffe, D., Lacy, S. & Fico, F. G. (2005). Analyzing media messages: Using quantitative content analysis in research. New York: Psychology Press.

Robers, S. & Kemp, J. (2012). Indicators of school crime and safety, 2012. Washington, DC: United States Education: National Center for Education Statistics.

Smith, R. L. & Eklund, K. (2015, March/April). Children's exposure to domestic violence: Information for educators. National Association of School Psychologists Communique, 43(6), 21.

Sullivan, T. N. & Bradshaw, C. P. (2012). Introduction to the special issue of behavioral disorders: Serving the needs of youth with disabilities through school-based violence prevention efforts, Behavioral Differences, 37, 129-132.

Wheeler, E. & Stomfay-Stitz, A. (2008, Spring). Responding to urban violence: What teachers tell us they can and must do in their classrooms. Childhood Education, 84(3), 37-39.

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