Violence in Schools: The Response in Europe

Violence in Schools: The Response in Europe

Violence in Schools: The Response in Europe

Violence in Schools: The Response in Europe


Violence in schools is a pervasive, highly emotive and, above all, global problem. Bullying and its negative social consequences are of perennial concern, while the media regularly highlights incidences of violent assault - and even murder - occurring within schools. This unique and fascinating text offers a comprehensive overview and analysis of how European nations are tackling this serious issue. Violence in Schools: The Response in Europe , brings together contributions from all EU member states and two associated states. Each chapter begins by clearly outlining the nature of the school violence situation in that country. It then goes on to describe those social policy initiatives and methods of intervention being used to address violence in schools and evaluates the effectiveness of these different strategies. Commentaries from Australia, Israel and the USA and an overview of the book's main themes by eminent psychologist Peter K. Smith complete a truly international and authoritative look at this important - and frequently controversial - subject. This book constitutes an invaluable resource for educational administrators, policymakers and researchers concerned with investigating, and ultimately addressing, the social and psychological causes, manifestations and effects of school violence.


An overview

Peter K. Smith

'School violence, having been dubbed a crisis, permeates the national consciousness and media outlets' (Mulvey and Cauffman, 2001, p.797). This perspective is from the USA; in Europe, violence in school and the concern about violence may not be at similar levels, but it is undoubtedly a topic of major concern. This book seeks to document what is known about school violence, and what can be done about it. It does so on the basis of experiences of the countries within the European Union. The comments of colleagues in Australia, Israel and the USA are included.

Schooling is a vital part of modern society. Intellectually, schools aim to educate pupils, to develop knowledge and skills that will help them achieve employment, further their adult career, and contribute to their society. Schools are also an immensely important social forum for children and young people. Over a period of some ten to twelve years, they will spend many thousands of hours at school with same-age and similar-age peers, as well as with teachers and other school personnel.

Each child brings their own personality and individuality to their school, no doubt influenced by their family environment. The peer groups they find themselves in start to introduce them to a somewhat autonomous 'peer culture' (Harris, 1995). The adults in the school try to inculcate certain ways of behaving in school. Everyone in the school community and in the families of the children, is influenced by the wider environment - the community which the school is in, the society which the community is in, even the global environment of international co-operation, international conflict, scientific and technological progress, and environmental degradation.

It is in these multiple contexts that we need to place the issue of violence in schools. There is no doubt that school violence is a topic of concern; those who doubt this need only read further in this book. This is not necessarily to sensationalize the issue. Despite some recent horrific incidents - such as the killing of head teacher Philip Lawrence outside his school gates in London as he intervened to break up a fight between pupils (and see also commentary from the US) - violence has always

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