Students, especially victims of bullying have been committing suicide at an alarming rate. The suicide rates have prompted investigations to be conducted to determine the causes of low-level violent crimes in schools. The investigations seek to determine how bullying, harassment, and shootings can occur in school environments that have always been regarded as the safest settings that young people can gather in. Acts of harassment and bullying are violent as they adversely affect the victims’ self-esteem and confidence. Consequently, they either stop or fear going to school as they do not wish to be tormented by their colleagues and educators. Thus, schools should ensure safety of the students as they access education and learn, by providing healthy learning environments. Consequently, students can concentrate on their studies and attain impeccable grades. Bullying, harassment, fear, anger, alienation, violence, and hostility within the learning environments should, therefore, be addressed as they are common forms of low-level violence. As a result, a review on low-level violence will affirm that it has been a neglected aspect of school culture (Dupper and Meyer-Adams 200). An article authored by David Dupper and Nancy Meyer-Adams will affirm that cases of school violence should be avoided by creating more positive learning cultures and climates.
Causes of Low-Level Violence in School Settings
According to David and Nancy, cases of violence among schools have been reported for several years. However, the violence has seen an increasing trend since the 1990s prompting various schools to identify measures that can prevent low-level violence and enhance safety. The authors believe low-level violence does not capture attention like cases of rape and murder, which are considered as more serious problems in the society, hence, capture the headlines. For example, they asserted that between 1997 and 1998, a 40% decline in school-associated fatalities was reported. Little attention, however, was paid regarding low-level and underlying forms of violence occurring in secondary schools on a daily basis. Thus, they discussed the case of April, who was a young girl who committed suicide. She took her own life after being a victim of bullying by being called fat, ridiculed, pushed, and hit with things to affirm that low-level violence should be addressed. They claimed that bullying leads to peer-pressure, victimization, sexual harassment and abuse, and psychological maltreatment (Dupper and Meyer-Adams 202). Ultimately, they sought to emphasize that low-level violence involving mental rather than physical abuse, torture, and harassment has profound effects on students’ physical and mental health as well as social and school performance.
The article defines bullying as the unprovoked physical and psychological abuse of individuals by either a person or group of peers. Bullying occurs over an extended period of time, creating an ongoing pattern of abuse, violence, and harassment. Bullying can be perpetrated by teasing, hitting, threatening, and taunting and stealing from the victims. The victims opt to embrace social segregation, especially if they are described as unattractive and weak in appearance. Peer sexual harassment refers to the act of spreading rumors by using demeaning and false sexual accusations and comments aimed at demeaning the victims. For example, a girl can be a victim of peer sexual harassment if her colleagues touch, grab, and pinch her inappropriately. Girls and boys are also victims if the perpetrators spread sexual rumors. Ultimately, it causes victims to perform poorly, experience psychological and physical harm, and eventually drop out as their esteems are bruised socially, academically, physically, mentally, and sexually (Dupper and Meyer-Adams 203).
Teachers are also perpetrators of psychological maltreatment. The authors assert that cases of psychological maltreatment of students by the educators occur more often than is perceived as they are hardly reported or addressed. Teachers rely on discipline and control techniques to instill fear and intimidate the students (Blosnich and Bossarte 113). For example, a teacher can scream, criticize, threaten, and ridicule a student in an attempt to gain control of the classroom. The victim, however, suffers from psychological maltreatment. Consequently, he or she exhibits behavioral problems and poor interpersonal competencies.
Preventing Low-Level Violence in Schools
Foremost, a culture embodying values, beliefs, and norms building positivity should be implemented and embraced by schools. The culture can ensure students and teachers work together in building a team of strong and confident members keen in influencing attitudes, learning patterns, and behaviors positively (Dupper and Meyer-Adams 205). For example, the culture should encourage students to work smart and hard by attending school as required to attain strong academic skills. The culture should also discourage violence by ensuring teachers assist in establishing a safe and conducive learning environment, putting social and academic bonds above individual success. Consequently, the positivity in the school community can encourage students to embrace diversity. More so, teachers and students can sustain open and honest relationships crucial in preventing and addressing low-level violence especially bullying. The relationships are crucial as each party can assist in creating new programs and learning techniques building self-esteem and confidence. Consequently, students can neither bully nor violate each other physically, psychologically, or sexually.
Nevertheless, it is also vital for schools to acknowledge that low-level violence is a significant challenge hindering students to attain their social and academic skills. As a result, incidents involving bullying, victimization, and sexual harassment should be reported to faculty members keen in maintaining open and honest relations with the students (Blosnich and Bossarte 119). Lastly, effective interventions at multiple school levels such as conflict resolution and classroom interventions should be implemented. They do not alienate perpetrators and victims. Instead, they address the issues arising from low-level violence on individual, classroom, and school levels (Dupper and Meyer-Adams 206).
In conclusion, low-level violence should be addressed by students and teachers. Both parties should address existing issues and similar incidences in the future. Foremost, they should determine causes of low-level violent crimes in schools. For example, they should acknowledge that low-level violence impacts students’ mental and physical health, as well as social and school performance. Consequently, they can implement effective interventions at multiple school levels to sustain healthy learning environments.
Blosnich, John and Bossarte Robert. “Low-level Violence in Schools: is There an Association between School Safety Measures and Peer Victimization?” Journal of American School Health Association vol. 81, no. 2, 2011, pp. 107-120.
Dupper, David and Meyer-Adams Nancy. “Low-Level Violence: A Neglected Aspect of School Culture.” Urban Education, vol. 37, no. 3, 2002, pp. 200-207.