Opinions of Female Juvenile Delinquents on Communication, Learning and Violence

By Sanger, Dixie; Spilker, Anna et al. | Journal of Correctional Education, March 2007 | Go to article overview

Opinions of Female Juvenile Delinquents on Communication, Learning and Violence


Sanger, Dixie, Spilker, Anna, Williams, Nicole, Belau, Don, Journal of Correctional Education


Abstract

The purpose of this study was to survey the opinions of female juvenile delinquents residing in a correctional center about the role of teachers and schools in serving students involved in violence. The term violence referred to behaviors and actions including threats or intentional harm to individuals or property (Van Hasselt & Hersen, 1999). A mixed methods design was used with 31 participants ranging in age from 15 to 18 with a mean age of 17.12 years.

Questionnaires containing five background items, eight Likert-type statements and three open-ended questions, were read to each adolescent. Likert items addressed participants' views about the role of teachers in serving students involved in violence. Open-ended questions pertained to their primary concerns about the way schools provide services for children and adolescents who are involved in violence, and what made learning in school a positive or negative experience.

Descriptive statistics and qualitative findings were analyzed. Participants' mean responses revealed they agreed that: (a) violence is an increasing concern of teachers; (b) teachers should be involved in planning prevention programs, (c) specialists should provide adequate services for children with learning problems involved in violence, and (d) there is a shortage of specialists to serve children involved in violence. Also, mean responses indicated they were uncertain whether teachers truly understood how to serve children or if they were merely trained in managing behavior. Qualitative findings supplemented the quantitative results and the following themes emerged: (a) effectiveness of services, (b) intervention/suggestions, (c) relating to students, (d) motivation, (e) effectiveness of teaching, (f) school environment, (g) subject content, (h) classroom environment, (i) learning challenges/personal issues, and (j) uncertainty [of how to respond to the questions]. Implications suggest the need for educators to consider how they relate to students and possible curriculum modifications to meet the needs of students involved in violence.

Violence in America's schools is a topic of great concern to educators and it continues to be an important area of research (Elliott, Hamburg, & Williams, 1998). There are many important assessment and intervention studies published on serving students Involved in violence (MacArthur Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood, 2005; National Council on Disability (NCD), 2003), yet many teachers continue to confront challenges as they address this population of children. Administrators, educators, and other specialists report they are frustrated and sometimes perplexed about the communication, behavioral, and learning problems encountered as they manage challenging workloads (Rltzman, 2006; Sanger, Moore-Brown, Montgomery, & Hellerich, 2004). Incidence figures are not limited to one age group; students displaying violent behaviors extend across elementary, middle, and high school grades. Undeniably, children and adolescents have overwhelmed and transformed the role of school personnel (Walker, Ramsey, & Gresham, 2004), because planning for students who are violent is time consuming and there seems to be no "quick fix" or easy remedy for this multidimensional problem.

Efforts to plan for students involved in violence in today's schools are best accomplished from a multidisciplinary team approach. Two team members including principals and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) were participants in two separate survey studies. These team members were chosen as participants because of their role in serving students involved in violence. Principals contribute to planning for this population because they are school leaders and often oversee disciplinary management (DiPaola & Walther-Thomas, 2003). SLPs are sought as experts in communication disorders, a disability that increasingly has been recognized as a factor in juvenile delinquency (National Council on Disability, 2003). …

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