Violence in Schools: Causes and Solutions
by Azizi Owiti (Kenya)
The problem with violence in all aspects of people's lives has never taken so devastating measures as we witness today. Children are faced with aggression on the streets, in their homes, and in the cartoons they watch. This learnt behavior has become an integral part of their lives, but its motives and manifestations at schools often seem inconceivable. Despite the prevailing presence of brutal behavior among children, the problem of violence and bullying is not nearly elaborated as well as it should be.
Educators and schools fail to commit to substantial examination of the causes, effects, and possible solutions of this problem. The violence expressed by individuals at school is only a representation of the systematic confusion, assaults, and distorted values children are being subjected to. The solutions include edifying measures that will result from comprehensive analysis of the root of the problems and individualistic approach towards the troubled students.
During the last two decades, psychologists have been focused on the relation between the school environment and the signs of violence between students. However, the inability to validate school climate with empirical measures resulted with complex findings that are hard to comprehend. The power of a person over other individuals is not entirely measureable due to the diversity of the reasons for his actions, as well as the means used in different situations.
Slavoj Å½iÅ¾ek, a respected philosopher and cultural critic, examines the ways people perceive and misperceive violence in his book Violence: Six Sideways Reflections. He states that terrorists, murderers, warriors, and other actors of “subjective” violence present the tip of the iceberg made up of “symbolic” violence, which is embodied in language, and “systematic” violence, which is the most dangerous form related to the disastrous consequences of the economic and political system. Å½iÅ¾ek's theory of symbolic and systematic violence can be translated into the school environment.
The reasons for these subtle forms of violent behavior cannot be discovered without a psychoanalytic approach, aimed at revealing the deepest roots that are located in the conscious and subconscious levels of the students. The first and foremost obstacle in identifying the reasons for violent behavior on individual basis is the fact that violence is an objective characteristic of the society. This behavior, as part of all cultures, refers to threat or use of force with the purpose to prevent certain events, or to cause harm for mere pleasure. The government's institutions use violence to punish or prevent criminal behavior. Since war and violence have been celebrated throughout the centuries, the reasons for violent behavior in schools should be extended beyond the family, social, and classroom environment the children are subjected to.
The studies conducted by psychologists are very complex, but young people can give us a more specific vision of the origins of these problems, as well as possible ways to solve them in future. Most educators and schools adopt the attitude of “zero tolerance” but don't bother to look at the big picture and discover the true reasons for violent behavior. In most cases, children's aggression results from the occurrences in their homes, but the number of students from functional families who also show signs of violence is not to be neglected.
Along the struggle for success, people are always faced with confrontations that determine their commitment and will to achieve the goals. In the jungle of society, only the strong ones succeed. Although people have their individual features, they are not different from the order they come from. Just as the state subjugates its citizens by laws, the citizens find their own subjects to rule. The only way to incorporate positive values in young students' moral concepts is to create an environment that is not associated with any discrimination and preference. Only coordinated cooperation between schools, educators, parents and children will result with control over the violent behavior among students.
The rules imposed by teachers should be instructive, positively set, and brief. Instead of forbidding certain ways of behavior, the rules should be aimed at guiding students how to react in certain situations. Constructive behavior should always be supported through eye contact and friendly attitude. When disciplinary measures are applied, they should be instructive instead of punitive. Teachers should make sure that those measures are focused on the improper behavior of the student, not the student himself. The consequences of verbal and physical aggression between students can be balanced out with team activities that are not limited to the classroom.
School violence is not a problem that should be solely treated on individual bases with the application of discipline measures. It is a social and historical issue whose effects shape children's development from early age. It is easy to say that we all want to live in a world without violence, but no philosopher, psychologist or politician has offered reasonable and applicable solutions against the problem on “micro” level. Although society has always been tied to different forms of violent behavior, it is not unreasonable for educators to make attempts towards a classroom without aggression and bullying.