School Violence in Context: Culture, Neighborhood, Family, School, and Gender

By Rami Benbenishty; Ron Avi Astor | Go to book overview

Preface:
Exploring the Meaning of School Violence
in Geopolitical Conflict

It is virtually impossible to live in the Middle East and be unaffected by geopolitical violence. This morning CNN, the New York Times, and most other international media outlets reported the capture of yet another terror cell that was planning to commit another tragedy against innocents. For the past few years there have been almost weekly, if not daily, tragic losses of innocent Jewish and Arab children’s lives due to political violence. Adding to the existing stress, while this book was being written, the United States was conducting a massive war in Iraq. Early in the war, the Israeli Jewish and Arab public were concerned about possible use of biological or chemical weapons by Iraq; every family in Israel was issued gas masks and biological weapon kits, and each house prepared a special room in the event of a chemical weapon attack. The continual painful images of victims portrayed by the media following a terror attack permeate the daily emotional and psychological lives of all children who are potential targets of political violence. Suffice it to say that in Israel, terrorism and war are constant variables in the psyche of each individual.

Now, this societal concern about terrorism and random political violence extends beyond Israel. It seems as though most of the Western world is living in a post9/11 awareness that peace and safety are intermittent and fleeting qualities—that politically motivated terrorism can impinge on the day-to-day lives of people anywhere and everywhere. Clearly, we live in a globally dangerous era, and there is heightened awareness that the terror threats are real.

Nevertheless, coexisting with this heightened awareness and almost paradoxically, the day-to-day lives of most children and the interpersonal transactions in families and schools (at least at the most proximal levels) do not always mirror the horrid images seen in the media, even in the most threatening and seemingly dire geopolitical climates, such as the Middle East. For example, today, after hearing the lachrymose CNN report about potential chemical attacks from Arab countries on

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