The Facts about School Violence
In the wake of highly publicized school shootings, many have assumed
that serious violence in schools is increasing dramatically. Yet
while any violence in schools is a concern, actual statistics about
the level and trends of violence in America's public schools are
The message of zero tolerance is politically appealing, giving
parents and communities the perception that schools are being tough
on crime. Unfortunately, however, there is little or no evidence
that zero tolerance can make a positive contribution to school safety
or improved student behavior, and a good deal of evidence that the
overuse of suspension and expulsion can be detrimental.
A Comprehensive Model of
School Violence Prevention
Recently, a comprehensive model of preventive discipline has
begun to emerge as the approach most likely to successfully address
problems of school disruption and violence. Consistently, programs
that effectively cut violence are proactive rather than reactive;
involve families, students and the community; and include multiple
components that can effectively address the complexity of school
disruption and violence.
Creating a Positive School
To some degree all students require instruction in appropriate methods
of solving problems. At the level of school climate, preventive programs
such as bullying prevention and conflict resolution teach all students
alternatives to violence for resolving conflict.
Early Identification and Intervention
The tragic school shootings of the last three years have highlighted
the importance of attending to early warning signs of violence. When
used to provide help rather than to profile, early identification
is a critical component of school violence prevention.
Effective Responses to
School violence prevention demands that we be prepared for the eventuality
of violence. Schools that are safe and responsive have plans and procedures
in place to deal with violent and disruptive behaviors that may occur.
Over-reliance on suspension and expulsion is replaced by an extensive
array of options that can be matched to the severity of the offense.
Restructuring School Discipline
Clearly, a new approach to school discipline and school violence
prevention is needed. The Safe and Responsive Schools Project is applying
the findings of school reform to help schools restructure their practice
in the areas of school discipline and school safety.
Last updated: Sep. 16, 2000
Copyright 2000, The Trustees of Indiana University