We have all witnessed the consequences of missed signals or indications of trouble, the reaction of disbelief, and the damaging, often tragic consequences of school violence. Dr. Rami Benbenishty and Dr. Ron Astor’s School Violence in Context: Culture, Neighborhood, Family, School, and Gender offers an in-depth, intellectual look at how violence presents in a school setting, factors that contribute to violence, and how the information presented may be transferable across cultures and national boundaries.
In the United States, it seemed for a time as if school violence were the only topic on the national news. Americans were shocked but fascinated. Due in part to the media attention and the sheer magnitude of some of the episodes, the American public was no longer lulled into thinking that violence took place only in inner-city schools, in a drug deal gone wrong, or among rival gang members. Suddenly, rage had no color, no location, no community, no socioeconomic ties. Fear knew no boundaries. Bullying had an effect more serious than the loss of some lunch money. The country woke up to the seriousness of violence among its youth in their schools.
Sensationalistic media coverage of high-profile acts soon gave way to a sort of acceptance, perhaps even apathy. However, just because there are no images of children flooding out of a school building to escape the horrors inside doesn’t mean that school violence has been eliminated. School violence is not just a picture of shooting victims on the 6 o’clock news, it is also real-life assault, sexual harassment, rape, and intimidation. Continuing incidents across the nation attest to the fact that this is a critical issue facing our children, their parents, our teachers, and our society.
The violence among youth that we experience in the United States tends to be a consequence of alienation. Youth who are disenfranchised, discounted, frustrated, or fearful strike back against those whom they perceive to be the oppressors. Conversely, Americans, unlike citizens in many countries, are rarely exposed to daily