Academic journal article Negro Educational Review

Family-School Connection and School Violence Prevention

Academic journal article Negro Educational Review

Family-School Connection and School Violence Prevention

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT:

Childhood and youth violence in the schools is a major concern in the United States. School-associated violent deaths between 1994 and 1999 have increased, and significantly more students report taking a weapon to school. This paper discusses the causes and correlates of school violence, including the accumulation of social and psychological risk factors related to violence and the effect of the interaction between the child's biological predispositions and home and school experiences on the child's ability to develop positive values, form positive relationships and attach to the school. The paper further describes violence prevention strategies and programs in the schools that emphasize the importance of a connection between the family and the school which are both embedded within the broader community. These strategies and programs include families and schools collaborating to teach, model and reinforce prosocial behavior and anger management, communicating successes and problems, facilitating student involvement, and building parent/school/community partnerships that support school-based peacekeeping projects. Additional suggestions that increase active parental involvement in the school, positive parent/school communication, and school support through parent/school/community partnerships are provided.

Introduction

Childhood and youth violence in the schools is a major concern in the United States. It is becoming an increasingly important social policy issue and a major public health concern, as evidenced by increased funding of research to identify the causes of child and youth violence and the provision of grants to support development, implementation, and evaluation of prevention/intervention programs. For example, the entire March, 2003 issue of Developmental Psychology, a major journal in the field of psychology, has been devoted to "violent children", focusing on developmental patterns, intervention, and public policy. In this article, I will outline the social and psychological risk factors related to violence in schools, and describe strategies and programs that bring families and schools together to prevent future violence.

Why the concern? According to a recent study of school-associated violent deaths between 1994 and 1999, the total homicide rates for students killed in school-associated violent death events have increased since the 1994-1995 school year. Fifty percent of these death events occurred while official school activities were in progress, most often during classes or after school activities (Anderson, et al., 2001). The youth homicide rate has risen steadily over the last 30 years. The period of greatest growth was between the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s in which the rate increased 168 percent (Bronfenbrenner, et al, 1996). The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports indicate that juvenile arrests for possession of weapons, aggravated assault, robbery, and murder rose more than 50 percent from 1987 to 1996 (U. S. FBI, 1997). There is also evidence that violence in the schools and carrying weapons to school is quite common (Gullotta & McElhaney, 1999; Lamberg, 2003). In a 2002 survey of high school students, over one third of the students admitted they had been in a physical fight in school, and 4% sustained injuries serious enough to require medical attention. More than 6% of these respondents reported that they had carried a weapon within the last 30 days (Lamberg, 2003). According to another recent survey, approximately one million students, some as young as 10 years old, have a gun in their backpacks when they arrive at school (Koch, 2000). In the present article, I discuss the causes, consequences, and mitigation of youth in school violence, emphasizing the importance of the connection between the family and the school.

Incidence of School Violence

The incidence of non-homicidal school violence is more difficult to determine because there is less of a demand to keep detailed, consistent records (Koch, 2000). …

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