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The incidence of aggression and violence in the schools is approaching vast proportions. Unfortunately, education programs for teachers have coursework that is designed to equip the teachers to face the mounting challenge of aggression by students. Violation, in school has increased a lot in recent times, school violence includes acts such as; bullying, and physical attacks with or without weapons, vandalism and theft. These acts can be seen by many as dreadful and despicable, violence may make other students be afraid of going to school, hence need to combat these norm before it becomes a menace. (Rogers E., 1995)
In this dissertation, I will examine briefly where student aggression originated and its nature. The ways in which student aggression can be curbed mostly in public school, and then drawing recommendations from a series of literature review. School wide positive behavior, support approaches have received a lot of attention in recent times. This approaches are designed to prevent student aggression in the classrooms as well as the school at large. It has always been the norm to punish misbehavior in children through suspension, whereby there is no teaching alternative and even expulsion to those students, who have gone to extremes in their violence. Isolation to punish the students, who have misbehaved is not, however, the best solution as its effects are not as positive as expected. It becomes easier to eradicate the aggression problem and making the school a safe haven for the students through the use of positive behavior support interventions that teach alternatives to problem behaviors. School wide positive behavior approach includes;
- Having clear and very consistent expectations of one’s behavior.
- Compiling procedures for what is expected of students and staff and their communication channels.
- Ways in which problems in behaviors can be prevented.
- Systems that can collect data so as to help in decision making regarding behaviors that need immense intervention.
- Practices that manage classroom behaviors.
School wide behavior support approaches depend on data based decision making and practices that have been validated through research in order to help in responding to discipline issues by students. Everett Rogers’ work, Diffusion of innovations, is a synthesis of several diffusion theories. Much of his theory emanates from rural sociology and his established framework has been used in different areas that are being studied by researchers. Diffusion according to Rogers is a process, through which innovation is communicated through a certain channel over a long time among members of the same societal system. In his text, he asserts that diffusion is a new type of communication that involves uncertainty a new idea. The statistics on violence in schools are quite disturbing; United States has a high degree of violence rates and is among the top most areas affected by misbehavior of students. Reports show that 11 out of 100 schools in the United States report cases of violence on the average of 15%. (Greg Orr, 2003).
Statement of the problem
In order to maximize learning and teaching in a school, heads of schools and their teachers must ensure that schools are safe and have orderly environment. The major issue that schools are being faced with how the aggressive and violent behaviors affect students in the long run. Reports show that crimes in schools have greatly dropped in recent times but violence continues to affect student’s experience of school life.
- How can school wide positive behavior supports be implemented in schools?
- What causes the school violence in majority of United States schools?
- Why is violence the most prevalent in the United States?
- How effective is Zero tolerance policy in combating violence in schools?
- What other alternatives are there to combat violence in schools?
- To evaluate what school wide positive behavior supports can be implemented in schools.
- To describe the causes of school violence in most United States schools.
- To evaluate why violence is the most prevalent in the United States.
- To establish the effectiveness of Zero tolerance policy in combating a violence in schools.
- To identify other alternatives, which are there to combat violence in schools?
Significance of the study
The reason as to way I conducted this study is to understand implementation issues associated with adoption of school wide behavior support systems and other alternatives of combating violence. Approaches, such as zero tolerance, suspension and expulsion will be looked at and we shall find out why these approaches have not been effective enough to prevent future trends of violence in schools. School wide approaches have been effective in promoting appropriate school behavior while reducing the disruptive behaviors. This approach has been correlated to a positive school climate, discipline referrals have dramatically reduced and time spent by administration to solve discipline issues has also reduced. These programs are promising as they have drastically reduced indiscipline cases in students, positive social behaviors and a safe climate for students in schools. (RESA, n.d).
Causes of Violent Misbehavior In Schools
Understanding the causes of violence in schools is the first step towards having a safe environment in school since it will be easy to prevent the outcome. However, not all school’s violence can be pinned down to causes hence it is good to be open minded. Violent behavior in school areas as demonstrated in the field is generated by various factors such as; domestic abuse, overcrowded schools, depression, anger issues and gang activity. Individual, cultural or social environments may also influence violent behavior in students. But also, there is no specific cause of violence among the youth, it is a multi-faceted problem. (Robert Gable, 1997)
Life in the USA is becoming sophisticated and parents no longer have time for their children, these children feel neglected by their parents. Therefore, negligence is one of the major reasons why children become violent, they get a feeling that they don’t belong and become introverts, when someone approaches them; they fail to reciprocate in the same manner.
Students sometimes have a great deal of work from school, excessive homework, assignments and other projects. These loads of work may lead to frustration and tension in the students
Circle of friends
Circle of friends also contribute to violent behavior, if a child spends most of his time with naughty, drug abusers and violent, they will adopt such behavior and start misbehaving.
Sometimes, the media is responsible for violent behavior, the gore, blood and violence depicted in cinemas and shows on TV are imprinted in the children’s minds and sometimes they try to imitate with their fellow students.
Approaches used to combat misbehaviors and violence in youths in their schools
Parents, teachers and administration have tried to come up with the ways to curb violence in schools. Some have been successful; others have faced challenges and produced ineffective results. Some of the approaches used in managing misbehaviors in school do not bring desirable results.
Zero tolerance policy
Some schools have adopted the zero tolerance policy; when dealing with this policy, the students are subjected to a punishment when they disobey the school rules regardless of how the situation is or the context of the behavior. It became widely common in the 1990s and 2000s; it mandates a one year expulsion of students found with firearms or any objects that looks harmful in school. Many schools in recent times have adopted the policy to cater for bullying, fighting, using drugs and alcohol. However, there are no research that exists on the impacts of zero tolerance policy since every school adopts its policy in its own away hence it is difficult in comparison. All in all, zero tolerance has become an integral part of discipline policies for many schools throughout the United States.
Suspension and expulsion
Discipline codes, in schools specify major consequences for misbehavior on the student’s part; most schools have adopted discipline policies such as expulsion and suspension. Suspension and expulsion punishes offenders by removing them from school for a short time and sometimes a long time. Although, their main aim is to maintain safety in school, it can have a negative impact on a student, grades may drop or he/she may turn even more violent and attitude towards school might change and opt to drop out of school.
Though, in recent times, suspension and expulsion has been criticized largely, reports show that more African American students are suspended than white students. This is because black students are suspended for less serious misbehaviors that the white students wouldn’t have. Therefore, suspension and expulsion is not really a fair approach of curbing the violence in schools.
Policies that rely upon the use of suspension and expulsion are ineffective in preventing future occurrences of student’s misbehavior and creating a safe environment for students in schools. This has lead to advocating of proactive discipline programs and policies that are implemented in a school wide policy. There are some advocates, such as the Center for the study and prevention of school violence and destructive behavior, American Psychological association, Center on effective collaboration and Practice. Some prominent researchers have come up with approaches to prevent violence in schools. Schools that decide to adopt school wide approaches to address misbehavior are likely to have positive results and thereby are proving a safe environment for the rest of the students.
Classroom management approach
In this approach, teachers are expected to advise the students effectively on what was expected of them in terms of behavior, social skills and the teachers should also offer a very positive atmosphere for the students to feel safe and wanted. This approach has been successful in curbing future occurrences of misbehaviors among youths in school.
However, there is a challenge that keeps looming around in adopting such strategiees, children with disabilities have difficulties in learning the expectations that are put forward to them. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires that positive behavioral interventions and strategies.
School wide positive behavior support approaches
Well-known SWBSA represents another approach that has been widely used to combat school violence and student misbehavior. It has demonstrated positive results in a trial research that was carried out. It has been adopted by over 13,000 schools in the United States hence it is the most used positive behavior approach in the nation. Unlike some other approaches it is not a curriculum, it is a multi tiered approach that approaches discipline in schools. It uses three tiers in particular; the primary tier of prevention, this tier involves defining and teaching about expectations on behavior and collecting data that is used to make decisions. The secondary tier of prevention is designed to help students, who have experienced problems with their behaviors; it consists of interventions that are hand in hand with expectations of behaviors from their schools.
The third tier of prevention is implemented to aid students have more serious behavior issues, it includes more intense, individual intervention; the family or community of the affected student is involved to help them get through. Various researches has been done on this approach and reports show that the approach has positive effects on academic performance, social behavior improves and there is a great reduction in referrals to the administration. Various schools vary the way they implement the School wide positive Behavioral Interventions and support program to prevent violence and offenses that related to drug abuse. It focuses mainly on preventing misbehavior and uses data that they have widely collected to inform the students on discipline. Character is also built through social skills, which eventually lead to a positive effect on one’s behavior hence less violence, (Alec C., 2003).
The mechanism of diffusion as presented by Everett Rogers (1995)
Diffusion provides the communication of innovation to happen through certain channels over a social systems. Here, decisions are not authoritative and neither are they collective, so each member is supposed to face his or her own decision through a certain five step process.
- The first step is knowledge, whereby the person becomes aware of an innovation and has a vivid idea of how it functions.
- The second step is persuasion, in this step the person forms a certain attitude towards the innovation.
- The decision step, in the third step, the person engages in activities that adopt or reject the innovation.
- This is the implementation stage, here, the person puts the innovation into use.
- The last stage is the confirmation stage, whereby the person evaluates the results of the innovation decision that he/she has already made.
In this theory, the amazing fact is, the person makes a decision based on other members decisions especially trusted members such as opinion leaders. Diffusion of innovation takes a whole different approach, in this theory, instead of making a person to change; it is the innovation, ideas and behaviors that make the changes.
School violence occurs mostly when students carry deadly weapons that they use and get into harmful events. Some students experience depression and tension, this sometimes leads to violence when forced to get out of their comfort zone.
This dissertation has presented several effective and non effective approaches towards school violence. Zero tolerance is widely used by many schools but since every school adopts a different way of zero tolerance it is difficult for researchers to really identify the effectiveness of this approach, suspension and expulsion have been used from time immemorial but this has not had a positive impact on future trends of misbehavior in youths.
Zero tolerance came about because of the certain belief of schools teachers and parents, who saw that if they never punished those who did wrong, it will send a message that their school is not serious about the students and their safety. Some of the alternatives to zero tolerance have been discussed and may require human and financial resources. These approaches help to prevent negative behaviors in students or at least minimize the effects of these behaviors. They also promote positive youth development and skills that help students both in the classroom and beyond.
The school wide positive behavior support approach has recently become the most widely used approach and research shows that it has positive effects in combating violence that has disturbed schools for a long time. The approach helps students, who are exhibiting signs of violence as well as those, who are already seriously violent. This way, it gives every student, who needs help, an opportunity to turn around their behaviors. If this approach implemented properly and with care it does not disappoint and gives remarkable results.
Therefore, it is, advisable for all schools to maintain safety and security. The approaches discussed above can be used in implementing a plan especially to keep students safe. The School wide positive behavior supports the approach, which has reported positive results overtime.