Family and Consumer Sciences Educators Can Play Significant Roles in Curbing School Violence

Article excerpt

SCHOLARSHIP AND PRACTICE

ABSTRACT

As our society strives to come to terms with the threat of school violence and the issues of school safety and security, various agencies are collaborating on ways to effectively address existing problems so that schools may be orderly and conducive to learning (W. Schwartz, 1996, An Overview of Strategies to Reduce School Violence. Eugene, Oregon: ERIC Digest, University of Oregon). Through the family and consumer sciences

curriculum, the tool for child and adolescent development, preventing acts of school violence can be presented to students as early as the sixth grade. Equipping students, in conjunction with community support, may be the vital resource to teach valuable relationship skills, which are obviously needed. While increasing the number of emotionally sound, self-actualized individuals, it is the opinion of this author that there would be a reduction of school and family violence across the nation.

For the past five years, the rash of school violence has proven that no community is exempt from senseless acts of violence. The painful results have been felt in city, rural, and suburban communities. The National Center for Educational Statistics surveyed 1,234 public school principals and revealed that 78% of these schools had developed formal school violence prevention and reduction programs (NCES, 1998). While the random sampling may be too small to be reliable, these principals listed the following program implementations to help prevent future violent acts at school:

Prevention curriculum, instruction, or training for students (e.g., social skills)

Behavioral programming/modification for students

Tutoring, mentoring

Enrichment leisure/recreational activities for students

Conflict resolution training

Review, revision, or monitoring of school-wide disciplinary practices and procedures

Community or parent involvement in school violence prevention programs

Reorganization of school grades or schedule to include "houses" or "teams" of students

Schwartz (1996) notes that school administrators have grappled with the threat of school violence and school safety and security issues, which have resulted in the collaborative process with various social agencies in making school more peaceful, "orderly places conducive for learning" (Schwartz, 1996). Because of these efforts, many administrators presently observe fewer incidents of violence (Metropolitan Life, 1999). Though strides taken by administrators are moving in the right direction, many have failed to realize the central role and positive impact family and consumer sciences educators can, and do, play in the prevention of school violence.

In a discussion of the family and consumer sciences current body of knowledge (Baugher et al., 2000), a pictorial model was devised (Figure 1), (This model was the original conception; it has been modified since this article was written. See Accreditation Highlights, page 74.) centering on the individual, family, and community. These aspects of society-the individual, the family, and the community-focus on the basic human needs within the pervasive theme contexts of wellness, technology, global interdependence, human development, and resource development and management. In addition to the major pervasive themes, the model, which is an attempt to visually define the scope, breadth, and depth of family and consumer sciences, includes the following cross threads:

Critical thinking

Diversity

Public policy

Professionalism

Communication skills

Independence, dependence, and interdependence of creativity thinking

Moral, ethical, and spiritual development

Furthermore, Baugher et al. (2000) identified a continuing trend-"the need for family and consumer science professionals to function as specialists, requiring both considerable depth in one subject area of specialization and the ability to integrate concepts from other areas of family and consumer sciences knowledge base. …