Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Educational Intervention: A Prescription for Violence Prevention at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Educational Intervention: A Prescription for Violence Prevention at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Article excerpt

Physical and verbal acts of violence and intolerance have become all too familiar on the nation's college campuses, including historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). This article argues that it is no longer acceptable for HBCUs to offer services and programs that focus solely on the victims of violence. To foster a healthy and safe environment, HBCUs must implement proactive educational interventions that interrupt the cycle of violence on campus and directly address the disruptive behavior of those who perpetrate harm within and outside the HBCU community. A model intervention is described and its components and implications discussed.


Violence is a widespread problem in our society at large. It is no less evident on our nation's college and university campuses, nor are the campuses of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States immune to its effect. Lederman (1994, 1995) has reported a rise in violent acts on college campuses across the U.S., including incidents of off-campus violence that, in some cases, have resulted in student deaths. He suggests that the very nature of the college campus-its traditionally open and trusting atmosphere-and the relative naivete of its student population can sometimes lead to opportunities for violence and victimization. Thus, it is critical that problems related to violence within the academy be responded to appropriately and decisively with structured programs that.bring about or restore civility to the campus setting.

For the purpose of this article, violence is defined broadly as behavior that by intent, action, and / or outcome harms another person. It includes physical, interpersonal, institutional, and intellectual acts of harm and aggression (O'Neil, 1989); courtship violence, hazing, and the violent use of sex (Roark, 1987); and ethnoviolence (Reynolds & von Destinon, 1993). This widely framed definition is useful for two reasons. First, it reflects current thinking and research on campus violence. Second, it highlights the truly violent nature of many of the harmful student behaviors that student affairs professionals confront and to which they must respond (Shang & Stevens, 1988).

In the last decade, violence has been studied intensely by student affairs professionals, counselors, legal scholars, and academicians. Researchers are presently concerned about framing violent and intolerant behaviors as the antithesis of student development and focusing on models of prevention and responses to violence and victimization. This vast body of research provides a clear picture of the status of violence in higher education and highlights current trends. However, very little has been written about what to do with perpetrators of campus violence and intolerance once they have committed their offenses. Additionally, researchers appear to be frustrated with studying demographics and charting trends alone, and few articles have addressed violence issues on HBCU campuses.

Review of the Literature

In his work, Orzek (1989) delineates five general groups that are potential targets for violence on college campuses: the individual student, students' partners or dates, the campus residential community, members of out-groups, and unknown others. He includes such self-destructive behaviors as alcohol and other drug abuse, eating disorders, and suicide among the types of violence students perpetrate upon themselves. He further explains partner or dating violence as being manifested through verbal insults, slapping, punching, or rape. The kinds of violence visited upon the residential community includes harassment, theft, hazing, or vandalism. Members of out-groups and unknown others may experience a combination of these forms of violence.

Palmer (1993) also identifies five groups who appear to experience the most frequent and serious acts of violence based on the results of a survey of 49 colleges and universities in 30 states, covering approximately 141,000 students. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.