The Causes of School Violence

The Causes of School Violence

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Violence in schools is an ever-growing problem in America. It seems every time we turn on the television we hear news of a new and even more disastrous event. The question we need to ask ourselves now is how can we prevent these tragedies. Many agree that looking at the behavior of students and trying to catch the problem before it escalates could be the solution. Schools increasingly believe that their responsibility is not only to teach academics, but also to curb violent, disruptive, and antisocial behavior. They recognize that underlying problems, such as bullying, teasing and learning disabilities, need to be addressed.

Many of these problems were present in Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the adolescent murderers from Littleton, Colorado, but were not adequately addressed before the tragedy. Dylan and Eric had been quiet, intelligent boys and respectful to their teachers throughout middle school, but as they entered high school, things began to change. Dylan and Eric began to alienate themselves and became "loners". They would play violent games and were easily agitated. For a class project, Dylan and Eric made a video featuring gunmen in long coats shooting athletes in the school hallways. They were often made fun of by the "popular" crowd. Why were these signs left unaddressed?

Research has shown that the students most likely to own guns and bring them to school have histories of antisocial behavior involving violations of school codes of conduct and criminal laws. Violence, typically, is used to express feelings, to manipulate others, or to retaliate against others. Warning signs include:

* Inability to self-regulate emotions

* Exposure to violence/abuse

* Alienation/rebelliousness

* Peer rejection

* Substance abuse

* Academic failure/ low goals, aspirations

* Lack of effort in school

Violent youth usually feel alienated. The key to curbing this behavior is learning to recognize these signs and getting professional help for those displaying them. The earlier the intervention, the more effective it will be.

Some medical conditions have been connected with violent behavior in young people.

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Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) has often been cited because of the poor emotional regulation that accompanies it. Depression and many learning disabilities have also been linked to violence. Although medication does help, professional counseling most effectively helps children to deal with emotions safely.

Violence is a learned behavior and can be changed. How can we change it? By working together for a solution and recognizing telltale warning signs, nurturing, safe learning environments will once again be restored to America's youth.
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