School Violence in Context: Culture, Neighborhood, Family, School, and Gender

By Rami Benbenishty; Ron Avi Astor | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Patterns of Victimization

One problem with the development of a school violence theory stems from the literature’s current narrow focus on exploring base rates of specific behaviors. We believe this has hampered a theoretical progression to understand basic patterns that drive school violence across different cultures and regions. As we discussed in the preface and Chapter 3, researchers have long known that base rates of victimization differ by culture, city, region, gender, and ethnic group. We propose that future research examine the many faces of victimization simultaneously. When looking at many different types of victimization together, researchers can ask questions about the relationships of the different forms of victimization to each other. For example, do all groups experience the same types of victimization in the same or different rank orders? Are the basic structures underlying the various victimization types similar or dissimilar across groups? These fairly simple yet potentially important questions have not yet been explored in school violence studies.

We devote this chapter to exploring the rank order and structure of victimization in our data. Most cultural theories would assume that different cultures experience types of violence in different rank orders based on differing values and circumstances unique to each culture, ethnicity, and country. If rank orders of the various types of violence are very different, researchers could see this as a sign that there are different mechanisms impacting violence in each culture. If rank orders are extremely similar or the same, it could mean that even though base rates differ (e.g., the rate could be twice as high for one group vs. another), the underlying forces creating victimization in each culture are similar or the same. This line of inquiry could have tremendous theoretical, empirical, and practice implications. If there was similarity or uniformity in ranking, policymakers and researchers might have more empirical evidence to justify using similar types of interventions for different cultures and groups. As far as we know, this is the first empirical examination of this question in the school violence literature.

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