Conflict Resolution in the Multicultural Classroom

Article excerpt

Schools reflect culture at large. This paper will discuss how conflict in schools and ways in which we handle disagreements reflect community standards, including ethnicity and socio-economic influences. Also analyzed are changing gender roles with increased female aggression in schools to include the role of technology.

Keywords: conflict resolution, culture, multiculturalism in the classroom

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Conflicts exhibited in schools, as well as the ways in which disagreements are handled, reflect community standards, including ethnicity, socio-economic status, and gender roles, with technology playing an integral part in the proliferation of violence among school-aged children.

Reflection of Community Standards

School violence is a direct reflection of the community at large. Over the past two decades, violent crimes have significantly increased among all groups of individuals (Hoffman, 1996). As the violence has increased in the community, the violence has increased in the schools. Community violence among young people has significantly increased during recent decades (Hoffman, 1996).

Violence among children and teens is continually increasing at an alarming rate. In 2003, an average of fifteen young people was murdered each day with 82% being killed with firearms (CDC, 2006). "In 2002, more than 877,700 young people ages 10 to 24 were injured from violent acts. Approximately 1 in 13 required hospitalization" (Family First Aid, n .d.) .Thus, the prevalence of violence in the community among children and teens has increased, leading to an increase in violence among children in the school setting.

A primary reflection of community standards is exhibited through the attitude of adults toward violence and parental participation in violent acts. One of the primary effects parents and family have on children regarding violence is teaching children to be violent as violence is a learned behavior (Focus Adolescent Services, 2000). Parental display of violence is one of the leading predictive factors for childhood violence (Focus Adolescent Services, 2000).

In addition to parental display of violence, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status play a large role in the likelihood of experiencing violence as a teen. Students experience an increased amount of violence "based on their age, race, gender, and the perception that they cannot contribute to society in meaningful ways" (Prevention Institute, n.d.).

Ethnicity

Children among different race groups experience the effects of violence in alarmingly different rates. Minority race groups are at a much greater risk for teen violence than majority race groups. "Among 10 to 24 year olds, homicide is the leading cause of death for African Americans, the second leading cause of death for Hispanics, and the third leading cause of death for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Asian/Pacific Islanders" (CDC, 2006).

While ethnicity plays a large role in predicting the occurrence of teen violence, the specific predictors vary per ethnic group (Fujii, Tokioka, Lichton, Hishinutna, 2005). Because of this, early identification and intervention is especially difficult. Many young teens needing intervention do not receive it because of a misunderstanding of ethnic specific predictive factors. Recognition of early warning signs regarding violence depends upon an understanding of the sensitive local and historical context of the specific ethnic group (Bruce, 2000).

One possible cause of the larger percentage of violence among minorities is the disproportionate number of minorities living in poverty. Many of the behaviors exhibited by minority students were conducive of students living in poverty, regardless of ethnicity. When comparing statistics of violent behaviors among ethnic groups, the percentage of the groups living in poverty align to the most violent ethnic groups. For example, African Americans experience and exhibit more violence than many other ethnic groups (CDC, 2006). …