HIGH SCHOOL VIOLENCE:
How To Reduce It With an Intelligent Approach
High school violence has been around for a long time and we have seen that it can end tragically. In this article, we look at ways of reducing the chances of high school violence occurring in any school by using an 'intelligence lead approach,' along with other methods. This article is designed for school principals, teachers and others that are directly involved with education, and have a keen interest in reducing violence. It brings together a range of ideas, supportive data and plans for reducing violence in educational facilities.
High School Violence Statistics
You do not have to be a rocket scientist to realize that people fight and commit violent acts in schools across the globe. It is so easily passed off as part of ‘normal' school life, where in fact nothing could be further from the truth. It is not normal for any violence to occur within school premises. Almost all violent crime within schools can be prevented and resolved if the correct channels and programs exist.
Sadly, even as recently as September 30th 2015 we heard of a head teacher being shot by a student:
So Just How Big is The Problem of High school Violence?
The centre for disease control and prevention has been collecting data on high school deaths since 1992 and according to their data "between 14 and 34 school-age children are victims of homicide on school grounds on their way to and from school—each and every year."
Other data states that in 2013: students ages 12–18 experienced about 1,420,900 nonfatal victimizations (theft and violent victimization) at school, compared with about 778,500 nonfatal victimizations away from school. An even closer examination of the stats available reveal the following:
- 2011, 20% of high school students were bullied at school, and 33% reported being involved in a physical fight in the last year. (Institute of Education Sciences . "Fast Facts." National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed April 21, 2014. .)
In one month, nearly 6% of high schoolers stayed home because they felt unsafe at or on their way to school. (Jacobson, G., S. K. Riesch, B. M. Temkin, K. M. Kedrowski, and N. Kluba. "Students Feeling Unsafe in School: Fifth Graders' Experiences." The Journal of School Nursing 27, no. 2 (2011): 149-159. "http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3103144/.")
- More than 7% of 9th through 12th graders reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property at least once in the last year. An additional 6% admitted to bringing a weapon to school for protection. (Connolly, Ciaran. "Bullying Statistics." No BullyingExpert Advice On Cyber Bullying School Bullying. Accessed April 21, 2014. .)
- More than 50% of children who have been bullied online do not report the behavior to their parents, leaving their parents with no idea regarding this behavior. (NoBullying.com. "Bullying Statistics, The Ultimate Guide!." HeadsUp. Accessed March 4, 2015. .)
- In 2011, one million children were harassed, threatened, or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on Facebook. (ConsumerReports.org. "That Facebook friend might be 10 years old, and other troubling news." Accessed March 4, 2015. .)
- Violent school threats have increased by 158% from 2010 to 2011. (Trump, Ken. "Study Finds rapid escalation of violent school threats." National School Safety and Security Services. Accessed March 4, 2015.)
- In the U.S., 33 school-associated violent deaths occurred in the 2009-2010 school year including homicides, suicides, and legal interventions. 18 of these occurred on school property. (Institute of Education Sciences. "Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2011 - Key FIndings." National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed April 21, 2014. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/crimeindicators/crimeindicators2011/key.asp>)
- In recent years, assault by weapon, cases of intimidation and bullying, and alcohol possession have all more than doubled on school properties. (NYP Holdings, Inc.. "School violence shatters record." New York Post. Accessed April 21, 2014. )
- Drug possessions at school more than doubled from 2005 to 2011. Teachers confirm that violence may not be spiking, but records are being kept much more accurately than in the past. (NYP Holdings, Inc.. "School violence shatters record." New York Post. Accessed April 21, 2014)
All data sourced from https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-school-violence
This paints a worrying picture that school can be a dangerous place to be, however, that should not be the case and it does not need to be this way. If you are reading this as a parent, teacher or even head teacher of a school then it is our goal to provide you with a long list of effective strategies to prevent violence from occurring with your school. Some of these strategies you may be using already, others you may never heard of but we have aimed to bring the best range of techniques within one article for you.
Advanced Support For Potential Victims
The threat of violence is very often prolonged and can be more painful than the actual violence that occurs, and this combines both the elements of bullying with a physical crime. How many students have been 'told' by their attacker that they are going to be a victim later that day, or even that week? And how many people also knew about this? Many bullies like to make their threats public and enjoy an audience to their work. It is, therefore logical to believe that other students can prevent abuse.
The key to this process is to use an anonymous reporting facility that can be used by both the potential victim and others who are aware of the situation. This could be an email system, a phone line or even an answering machine service. Remember this is not about bullying, this is about potential violence and as such, this needs to be treated seriously. This simple act of intervention can save lives, reduce fear and help make high schools a safer place. Why? Because if people are concerned about being reported on, they are less inclined to make threats.The other very useful aspect of this type of service is that it helps to uncover issues that may not be apparent. For example, the offender may be a bully due to an involvement in a gang, drug abuse, issues at home, etc. By encouraging communication through a variety of methods, you can help to reduce crime on school campuses.
Dealing With Violence To and From School Using "Intelligence"
We know that violence can occur on the way to school and also on the way home. So how can you deal with this? The answer lies with an 'intelligence lead transport system.’ This may be a novel idea for some, but it is an effective way to reduce high school violence outside of school premises. The use of an intelligence system is integral to every school and requires to be set up in a stringent way.
The suggested method, is, of course, to use a secure computer system that allows you to track student behaviours and vulnerability. This does not have to be as complicated as it sounds, and most school databases will have the ability to add student notes. A system is only as good as the information placed inside it, but imagine if teachers could directly input witnessed animosity from one student to another, record it, and then map it out. If every teacher or staff member could do this, then you would quickly gain a picture of possible offenders of violence at an early stage.
Let’s use classmates John Smith, Billy Jenkins and Craig Jones as an example. In this scenario John Smith is aggressive towards Billy Jenkins in geography class, and this is recorded by the teacher and input into the system. In the next class, chemistry, Billy seems to be in some distress from another student, Craig Jones, who is a known and close associate of John Smith. This can very quickly indicate that Billy could now be ganged up on and is suffering some form of bullying.
We also could use this same system to track the behaviors and conduct of John Smith. He may be aggressive and abusive towards several people and by having a centralized system of monitoring this, you can gain a picture of a person and also provide evidence if necessary. This may seem like hard work but in all honesty this is easy to set up if you have the right technology. And with app interfaces it can simply be a few seconds of a teacher’s time after class.
However, the key to understanding this data does require a member of staff who can be allocated the role of an “Intelligence Officer.” They can read this data, handle the school intervention phone lines and also spot these issues, organize responses and in the case of violence to and from school, they can allocate transport if the student is at risk of being attacked and targeted outside of school. These are intelligence lead responses and can easily be justified if you have the supportive data from an intelligence system.
It is essential that high school staff understand the basis of an attack. In simple terms, there must be 3 components present.
If you take one side of the triangle away then you cannot have any violent incident, it is a basic but very accurate way of preventing issues. This means that high schools need to make accurate records of incidents, and more so the locations these incidents occur. This will help any intelligence officer to establish 'flash points' or locations where violence takes place.
By having this information you can take action to remove the appeal of these locations. Perhaps it is a dark corner away from passers-by, or perhaps it is a black spot on school CCTV. A few simple steps can reduce problems from happening.
Physical Intervention Training
One of the areas of which high school violence can be reduced is by using intervention training. This is what we at SAFE International™ deliver on a daily basis to high schools across the world.We have built a very solid reputation as leaders in the field of self-protection, with a high focus on high school education. In fact, we currently dedicate most of our instruction to teenage females. The reason behind our focus is very simple, by training these members of society at an early age to be aware of boundaries, have self-respect and be attuned to personal safety, we can break down the victim cycle. By this, we can reduce both current violence within schools and also reduce future victims of domestic abuse.
To many this seems a grand idea however this really does work because we are educating children to feel empowered about their personal safety. In an article written by Professor of School psychology Michael J Furlong and several other experts titled "Preventing School Violence: A Plan for Safe and Engaging Schools" they lay out a strategy where physical intervention plays a key part. In this strategy, you will see 5 parts:
- Problem identification. Using the information gathered from the needs assessment regarding current status and future goals, stakeholders systematically identify the problems that should be addressed
- Problem analysis. Validate and prioritize problems and translate them into objective and measurable goals that can be accomplished through specific, testable, actions. Consider the needs at student, staff member, and environmental levels.
- Response proposals. Identify the programs and procedures that address the needs of students at all levels of exposure to school violence. Choose programs because they will address the identified problem, not because they are popular. Important considerations at this stage include allocating funds, determining who is responsible, and deciding what would indicate success.
- Response implementation. Interventions should be implemented after giving consideration to student and staff member interest in and motivation for the program. Communication with stakeholders may be important to gain involvment and avoid frustration and negative attention over intervention
- Evaluation of prevention strategies. Evaluation includes both an ongoing evaluation of how the program is being implemented and determining how it works with your student population. To make the program and activities more effective, changes can be made on the basis of the evaluation
As we can see the experts also agree that students require programmes and Safe International have been working closely with schools for some time to assist in this area.
Social Media Monitoring
The world is connected via a very complex web-based network. However, we know from our previous article about cyberbullying that the web world and the physical world collide at numerous junctures. Another method schools can use to reduce violence and bullying is the pro-active monitoring of social media.
This sounds like 'snooping' here. However, there are no rules against using Facebook in this way if a person’s profile is public, and it might just save lives. After all, a lot of abuse is said online prior to any attack. One ideal method would be to use 'Guardians.’
The Guardian idea is where several students are selected by teachers to act as school protectors, guardians if you will. No one else should know about them or their role at school. If they see any behavior(s) by one person to another online that is aggressive or abusive, they should reach out to that person and offer support.
Step 1: Define the Problem
"Before we can prevent school violence, we need to know how big the problem is, where it is, and who it affects. CDC learns about a problem by gathering and studying data. These data are critical because they help us know where prevention is most needed."
Step 2: Identify Risk and Protective Factors
"It is not enough to know that school violence affects certain students in certain areas. We also need to know why. CDC conducts and supports research to answer this question. We can then develop programs to reduce or get rid of risk factors and to increase protective factors."
Step 3: Develop and Test Prevention Strategies
"Using information gathered in research, CDC develops and evaluates strategies to prevent school violence."
Step 4: Ensure widespread adoption
"In this final step, CDC shares the best prevention strategies. CDC may also provide funding or technical help so communities can adopt these strategies."
As we have seen there are a range of ways in which a school can tackle high school violence. However to assist you we have outlined the very basic steps you need to take now.
1. Gather a meeting with stake holders, interested parties and create a working group to reduce Violence within the school
2. Establish using data exactly what problem you have within the school and if you haven't recorded that type of data, you will need to start a process for this. Use the CDC data within this article to identify students who may pose risks in the future.
3. Create training programmes for both students and staff that meet the needs of your school.
4. Assess the results of those programmes on a regular basis.
For further advice or support please contact us at SAFE International