Student Conduct and Violence in Schools

Student Conduct and Violence in Schools

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Generally, the conduct of students in public school is a deterrent to getting a good education. Violent behavior, drugs in school, and misbehaving students are distracting and break the learning environment for others.

Violence in school creates an unsafe environment, and shifts the administrator's focus away from the curriculum towards solving the dilemma of violence.  When the environment that surrounds the students is not secure they become more preoccupied with their own safety than they do about learning (Rehr).  This disturbing behavior also takes both the student's and teacher's time away from the education process.  As Albert Shanker has written, "Nobody ever learns in a classroom that has one or two kids who take ninety percent of the time through violence or threats of violence.  It deprives children of an opportunity to learn" (464).  To cut down on violence, schools have guards at the entrance, gates, or metal detectors in buildings.  The effect of this though is that students sometimes have to miss first period because of the length of time it takes to check everyone's bag.  In addition, it can cause feelings of intimidation or anxiety due to the fact that "when you put metal detectors in buildings, that's a statement that schools are violence-ridden, out of control, and unsafe" (Glazer 790).  This worries educators because they start to "question whether a prison-like atmosphere, even when it is effective in reducing crime, can in the long run be compatible with good education" (David 12).

In correlation with crime in schools are illegal drugs.  Drugs seems to be the majority cause of violent behavior in school.  "Teachers tell of some students being sent home because they were drunk; others have been involved in fights with other students, teachers, and administrators while under the influence of alcohol" (David 8).  When these students come to class under the influence of drugs or alcohol they are not able to learn or function responsibly in school.  This not only hurts them but also others who become more vulnerable when they see this behavior and do not see the person getting any kind of discipline.  As one student said, "If you get caught they will slap you on the wrist, say 'Don't do it again', or maybe send you to a different school.  Big deal" (Lipsky 104).  This kind of thinking makes drug use legitimate to other students.

A third behavior students engage in that causes disruption and time taken away in classes is simply misbehavior.

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  According to Shanker, these are the youngsters who are constantly yelling, cursing, jumping, so that most of the time the other students in the class and the teacher is devoted, not to the academic mission of the schools, but to figuring out how to contain this individual (463).  Acting out for students becomes a way for them to get attention, and unfortunately the majority of the time they get just what they want.  According to teachers, the worst-behaved students get the most attention.  They lose a half-hour or more each day dealing with unruly behavior (Kleffman 615).  This time consumption and distracting conduct puts a big strain on the other students who are there to learn.  "Students complain about teachers pleading with students to behave, and so much noise in some rooms that those who want to learn simply cannot concentrate (Kleffman 613).  As another student put it, "A teacher once wasted half the period with several unruly students.  I feel really bad for the teacher because it's not her fault.  But it's not fair for the rest of the kids.  We just can't learn as much" (Kleffman 617).  Other students get upset that they come to class and do their work but never get noticed or attended to.  One mom complained saying that her son does his work but his teacher rarely notices him because of two kids who steal all her attention.  "You hear just two names in that class.  If their names are called out once, they are called out twenty five times.  My son withdraws and remains nameless" (Lindley 615).

Violence in school, drugs and alcohol, and unruly conduct all have negative effects on students who are there to learn.  They cause distractions, unsafe environments, and cause the schools to focus more on dealing with these problems that on building a better curriculum.  In general, the conduct of students is deterrent to getting a good education.
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