Violence in Schools – 4 Root Causes

Articles exist all over the internet spouting how to “end” violence in schools. They have a tendency to be broad, generic, and focused on the symptoms of youth violence instead of the causes. Drugs, alcohol, and sex are often blamed as reasons behind violent students, and while those might be linked to such individuals, it is not those issues school administration and security should be spending the bulk of their time fighting. These issues, just like violence, are results of deeper issues that need to be addressed if we truly want to prevent violence in schools.

4 Key Causes of Violence in Schools:

1) Lack of realistic, effective disciplinary systems
Often, too much focus is placed on stopping violence in schools once it is already happening (for example, breaking up fights between students) instead of taking steps to stop altercations from beginning in the first place. For example, properly enforced visitor policies can help minimize gang-related violence, as varying gang members from different schools often come together at one school to partake in gang-related attacks.

2) Lack of community between parents, guidance counselors, and teachers
Young people need a strong support system of their authority figures. For students this means their parents, teachers, and guidance counselors. School administration must focus on creating easy, mandatory, and continuous communication between these groups, so that it is not just “parent/teacher conferences” after a student is displaying violence and aggressive behavior.

3) Disconnect between students
As students are typically the ones causing violence in schools, they are the true key in minimizing events of aggression and violence. Faculty and staff can go through trainings such as crisis prevention and Active Shooter Response Training, but the students are just as (if not more) important to engage in school violence prevention. Anti-bullying and anti-violence trainings should be encouraged and made available to all students—not just the really “good” or “bad” kids—to inspire a sense of community and care-taking of their school.

4) Disconnect between students and teachers
Student-teacher interaction is paramount for preventing violence in schools. It is easy for teachers, after dealing with constant aggression from particular students, to feel that the student body is only the problem and not realize that students are also the solution. Teachers and administration must utilize the support and help from those students who stand out as role models and leaders in their classes and school clubs to help curb violence.