What is School Violence?
School violence encompasses all forms of violence that occur in the school environment. It may occur on school property, during a school-sponsored event, or while going to or from school. Violent acts may interfere with learning and harm students, schools, and the community. Anyone can be a victim or a perpetrator of school violence since the actions occur in the school area.
School violence includes bullying, fighting (kicking, slapping, punching, etc.), sexual violence, weapon use, and gang violence. The violence that involves bullying, shoving, and pushing can cause more emotional damage than physical harm. Other types of violence, like gang violence and assault (with or without weapons), can result in severe injury or even death.
How Big Is the Problem?
Reflect on the effects of school violence on the victims before you say, “it is a big problem” or “school violence has always been there, and students will continue to experience it.” Although school-associated violent deaths are rare, there have been several cases of severe injuries courtesy of school violence. While bruises and broken bones are relatively minor, injuries like head trauma and gunshot wounds may result in permanent disability.
Also, school violence can cause emotional damage to the victim. Since not all damage will be readily apparent, exposure to youth violence and school conflict can result in various unhealthy behaviors and outcomes, such as alcohol and drug abuse and suicide. It can also lead to depression and other psychological issues.
In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) carried outa nationwide Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and engaged 13,677 high school students across the United States. The result revealed that one in every five high school students reported experiencing bullying or harassment on school grounds in the previous year.
About eight percent of the students admitted that they had engaged in physical violence on school grounds at least once in the year preceding the survey. The study showed that more than seven percent of the students had faced threats within the school environment. The threats were with a weapon, like guns or knives. In the 30 days before the survey, nearly nine percent of high school students skipped at least one day of class because they thought they would be in danger there or while traveling to or from school.
Who is at Risk for School Violence?
Several factors can incite youth violence at school. The following are risk factors for youth and school violence:
- History of violence
- Dysfunctional families
- Drug or alcohol use
- Poor academic performance
- Association with lawbreakers
- Poverty in the community
These factors being present does not mean that a young person will commit a crime. However, studies have shown that students who engage in school violence have a connection with some of these factors.
How Can We Prevent Violence in Schools?
The causes of violence in schools are numerous. Meanwhile, every student has a right to receive an education in a secure environment. Fortunately, we can prevent school violence. It requires synergy among school administrators, teachers, parents, students, and the entire community.
We can not only reduce school violence but also improve the school environment. Schools, communities, and states must prioritize prevention strategies to control violent behaviors, the influence of family history and background, the school, and other societal factors that influence the risk factors for violence.