Cross-Cultural Conflict Resolution in the Schools: Some Practical Intervention Strategies for Counselors
Brinson, Jesse A., Kottler, Jeffrey A., Fisher, Teresa A., Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD
It is clear that acts of violence and terror have now become pervasive in our culture. These are not just violent acts perpetrated by foreign terrorists, or even community gangs, but manifestations of verbal and physical abuse, bullying, extortion, and fights that take place inside the schools themselves. School violence continues to be an area in which many experts agree that more must be done to protect children and help them cope with the effects (Capozzoli & McVey, 2000; Elliott, Hamburg, & Williams, 1998; Goldstein & Conoley, 1997; Hurford, Lindskog, & Mallett, 2000; Sandhu, 2001; Shafii & Shafii, 2001). Many children are afraid to go into the restroom or out on the playground because of the level of violence in school settings (Elliot et al., 1998). According to statistics published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 1993, 28% of shootings happened inside a school building; 36% of violent events happened outdoors on school property; 35% happened off-campus; and, since 1992, the total number of multiple-victim events has increased consistently (CDC, 1993). According to a report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES; Heaviside, Rowand, & Williams, 1998), approximately 57% of public elementary and secondary schools reported one or more incidents of violence during the 1996-1997 school year. Finally, urban schools are more prone to violence than are their suburban or rural counterparts (Flaherty, 2001), but regardless of where violence occurs, its presence adversely and significantly affects the amount of learning taking place in a school environment (Sandhu, 2001).
When the public thinks about violence in schools, in general, high visibility cases such as the mass murders at Columbine come to mind. However, violence in schools can be conceptualized as any act of intimidation, threats, harassment, robbery, vandalism, physical assault, rape, sexual battery, or murder that happens on school grounds or buses going to and from school or from a school sponsored event (Capozzoli & McVey, 2000; Flaherty, 2001; Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1996). Kopka (1997) asserted that racial epithets, White supremacy symbols, or a hard shove in a school hallway are also considered violent acts. The tendency for school personnel to use all-encompassing definitions for "violent acts" means that parents and counselors can expect that children are much more likely to qualify for the label "a victim of violence" today (and in the very near future) than they would have qualified for this designation in the past. Furthermore, given the broad conceptualization of school violence, one might even expect incidences of school violence to be underreported. Few victims of school violence have actually reported their victimization to the police, and less than half have reported the victimization to either the police or school officials (Elliott et al., 1998; R. S. Newman, Murray, & Lussier, 2001).
VIOLENCE IS GROWING: POSSIBLE REASONS
Even though change in defining what is and is not a violent act has "inflated" the number of violent acts, there is evidence that violence has increased, and there are a number of explanations to account for the increase. In fact, Ketti (2001) maintained that we have many more theories about violence than data to support them. Although no definitive causative factors can be directly linked to a specific incidence of violence, one explanation for violence has been conceptualized by considering the complex interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors (Ketti, 2001; Shafii & Shafii, 2001). Furthermore, the same authors who called attention to the complex interplay of these three factors (i.e., Ketti, 2001; Shafii & Shafii, 2001) also believed that a lack of conflict resolution training was a significant contributor to violence (Ketti, 2001; Shafii & Shafii, 2001).
In addition to the lack of conflict resolution skill that has received the greatest attention in the literature, there are other contributors to violence that deserve attention. The social contributors most frequently mentioned are the proliferation of gangs, violent images portrayed in the media (particularly television), and the growing use of violent video games and Internet sites.
Kaufman, Chen, and Choy (1999) cited data from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education that reveal that the presence of gangs in schools doubled from 1985 to 1995. Many of these gangs are involved in efforts to harass other students, or, in some cases, engage in illicit activities that may or may not lead to violence. Several writers have pointed out that guns have become a "constant companion" of many adolescent boys in middle school and high school (Durant, Krowchuk, & Kreiter, 1999; Ikeda, Gorwitz, & James, 1997; Malek, Chang, & Davis, 1998). Greenbaum (1997) cited data from the Department of Justice that every day in the United States, thousands of children carry some type of weapon to school for protection. Even in those cases in which a child carries a weapon to school to protect himself or herself, this action itself has increased the overall chance for some violent act to occur.
In reference to television and its potential impact on school violence, a number of years ago, a 5-year study by the American Psychological Association estimated that the average child has watched 100,000 acts of violence and 8,000 murders from his or her living room (Huston et al., 1992). There should be little wonder about their predilection toward violence when they are bombarded, for example, with images of good triumphing over evil, often in violent ways, and when relatively few versions of power are represented to them in the mass media and toy markets other than the idea of power over rather than power with others (Arnow, 2001). A growing number of prominent lawmakers, citizens, and professional groups like Action for Children's Television (ACT), the National Council of Churches, the American Medical Association, the National PTA, and the American Psychological Association have become increasingly outspoken in their criticism of violence on television (Jason, Hanaway, & Brackshaw, 1999). Finally, well-funded research studies on the relationship between media-portrayed violence and antisocial behavior in children strongly indicate that television is one contributor to violent or aggressive behavior (American Psychiatric Association, Board of Trustees, 1993). Data collected up to this point suggest that it would be naive to believe that TV violence is not a contributing factor--especially if the children watching violent content are frustrated, angry, or initially prone to violence (Aronson, 2000).
VIOLENCE AS AN ATTEMPT TO RESOLVE CONFLICT
One theory to account for the reasons children resort to violence as a way to solve problems or to meet their needs is that they lack adequate conflict resolution skills. Social learning theory tells us that children learn behavior by observing and imitating those around them (Corey, 2001; Gardner & Resnick, 1996). It is clear that a significant number of children come from families and environments that can be characterized as less than optimal for developing socially appropriate problem-solving skills. When people at home, or in their community, appear frustrated or upset, children see these individuals use poor problem-solving strategies, such as a slap, a shove, screaming, abusive language, or even the use of a weapon to threaten someone. In community-based studies of family violence (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1994), Native American children reported seeing family members beaten by other family members at rates slightly …
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Publication information: Article title: Cross-Cultural Conflict Resolution in the Schools: Some Practical Intervention Strategies for Counselors. Contributors: Brinson, Jesse A. - Author, Kottler, Jeffrey A. - Author, Fisher, Teresa A. - Author. Journal title: Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD. Volume: 82. Issue: 3 Publication date: Summer 2004. Page number: 294+. © American Counseling Association Summer 2010. COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group.
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