Challenging Violence in Schools: An Issue of Masculinties

Challenging Violence in Schools: An Issue of Masculinties

Challenging Violence in Schools: An Issue of Masculinties

Challenging Violence in Schools: An Issue of Masculinties


This book explores the relationship between violence and masculinity within schools. There is a clear need to explore this relationship. A substantial amount of evidence exists which demonstrates how boys are the major perpetrators of violence in schools - from extreme acts of violence such as school shootings in the US to more common forms of schoolyard bullying - and that both girls and boys are their victims. The book suggests that violence has been masculinized in such a way that boys often perpetrate violence as a means of demonstrating their perception of what counts as a valued form of masculinity. This masculinization of violence has often meant that girls experience violence from boys who are seeking to demonstrate their superiority over girls, and it has also meant that some boys often experience violence due to their non-conformity to dominant images of masculinity. In order to support these arguments the book draws on extensive interview data collected from boys and teachers who were involved in anti-violence programmes in their schools.


Seldom do the news reports note that virtually all the violence in the world today is
committed by men. Imagine, though, if the phalanxes of violence were composed entirely
of women. Would that not be the story, the only issue to be explained? Would not a
gender analysis occupy the center of every single story? the fact that these are men seems
so natural as to raise no questions, generate no analysis.

(Kimmel 2000: 243)

In April 1999 two boys in trench coats walked into their high school in Columbine, usa, shot dead 12 students and a teacher, and wounded 23 others before killing themselves. the boys had planned their shooting spree in great detail. Three weeks later, in New South Wales, Australia, a number of boys were suspended from seven different schools for creating a similar ‘massacre list’ of students and teachers as that put together by the two American students (Baird 1999: 5). Such events have served to promote the belief that schools throughout the Western world are becoming like the stereotypic violent American school. For instance, in an Australian newspaper report headlined, ‘I fear massacre in our schools’ (Patty 1999) a headmistress (sic) of an exclusive girls’ school, who had visited a number of schools in the usa where she had seen metal detectors, guards, identification badges and transparent school bags, was reported as saying,

Columbine High School was an affluent school in an affluent area of
Denver in a very similar environment to schools in Australia. There
has been an accelerating pattern of violence in Australian schools in
the past 15 years. the availability of guns, unemployment, homeless
ness, the disintegration of families and the church and violence in
the media. High rates of depression are reflected in the high rates of
eating disorders, vandalism, drug use and violence in schools. It’s a
very dangerous and potent situation.

(Patty 1999: 18–19)

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