Through the eyes of children: Understanding school violence from the perpetrators' perspective
Violence in schools remains on the agenda as a hot topic and undergoes a resurgence with each new incident of school shootings. Evidence exists that the public perception of violence in schools does not coincide with the current reality. Statistics reveal that school violence is stable or on the decline, and students and adults in school report that they feel safe.
Schools have adopted various strategies to respond to school violence. Some of these are punitive measures which are sharply criticized as ineffective and counterproductive. Further, some of the critics of these measures claim that student violence is a response to systemic violence and these policies themselves are an aspect of that system because they do not address the root causes of violence.
This study examined students' understanding of school violence by exploring perpetrators' experiences through their own perceptions and voice. Patterns emerged from the data that revealed students lives to be marred by daily violence in schools. Although they reported school is safe, they described an atmosphere rampant with harassment. This harassment was attributed to individual student motivations, interactions among balkanized groups of students, adult behaviors, and organizational factors, including discipline policies.
These findings coincided with the body of research on systemic violence and harassment as a leading cause of student violent behavior. As the school and its practitioners clearly play a role in school violence, it is incumbent upon us to address this issue by examining our practices.
Academic guidance counseling;
0519: Academic guidance counseling
0340: Educational sociology