Violence Prevention and Conflict Resolution Across the Grade Levels

Violence Prevention and Conflict Resolution Across the Grade Levels

 

  1. Background and History of this topic in schools

“A student is being bullied or victimized when her or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the a part of one or more other students, It is a negative action when someone intentionally inflicts, or attempts to inflict injury or discomfort upon another.” (Olweus, 1993, p. 9)

  1. What leads to school violence?

 

  1. Frustration, aggression, and anger all lead to violent acts

  2. Name calling and physical altercations are the most common types of bullying

  3. How a typical school will address bullying: bad behavior + teacher referral + administrative discipline/ ISS or detention. This leads to students being placed back into the classroom without any accountability for their actions

  1. Who is involved in bullying?

  1. Victims

  2. Perpetrators

  3. Bystanders

  4. “In order to use the term bullying, there should also be an imbalance in strength (and asymmetric power relationship): The student who is exposed to the negative actions has difficulty in defending himself or herself and is somewhat helpless against the student or students who harass.” (Olweus, 1993, p. 9)

    1. Myths and Misconceptions about Violence Prevention and Conflict Resolution in School:

      1. School demographics and location are indicators the likelihood of violent behavior.

      2. Parents of violent students and the students themselves are solely responsible for their violent tendencies.

      3. Advance students, honors students, and AP classrooms typically are less likely to be violent or face violent situations.

      4. As competition in school increases, teamwork increases, and violence decreases.

      5. Casual student conversation such as teasing and rumors does not lead to violence.

    2. Typical Model for Addressing Problematic Behavior:

      1. Bad behavior leads to teacher referral, leads to administrative discipline (ISS or detention), and then the student is sent back to class without accountability or action plan for prevention of future conflict.

      2. The typical model for addressing problematic behavior is proving to be ineffective. Reasons for this include:

        1. Without accountability, students who partake in problematic behavior do not learn from their mistakes, and no justice is served for victims.

        2. No resolution or future prevention are discussed for victim or perpetrator.

  1. Existing Research and Programs

    1. Positive Behavior Supports

      1. Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is a term that describes a set of strategies or procedures meant to improve behavior of students through non-punitive, proactive, systematic techniques such as reward systems for positive behavior.

        1. This includes system that reward monopoly type currency to spend at school stores or other extrinsic sources of rewards.

  2. Current Issues and Problems

    1. School-wide programs are known to fail and have no lasting impact

    2. Many teachers stop educating themselves on current issues after being hired

      1. Could be fixed by reading up on psychological, sociology, and violence

  3. Emerging Solutions and Practices

    1. How can teachers make a difference?

      1. Be honest with your students.

      2. Remind students of individualism and the importance of it.

      3. Build meaningful relationships with students so you are able to prevent violence from occurring and able to reach solutions if a situation were to occur.

    2. Positive Behavior Support (PBS)- essentially this is systematic reared programs for good or positive behavior, usually put in place building, class, team, or grade wide.

      1. In theory, this practice looks like it would be effective but oftentimes fail. Failure can be attributed to lack of intrinsic motivation for positive behavior due to the reward system, inappropriate or inadequate rewards, etc.

      2. When teachers and school faculty form meaningful relationships with students, they are more likely to feel intrinsically motivated to act respectfully to peers, teachers and other school faculty.

      3. If teachers have meaningful relationships with students, a private handshake, thank you, or affirmation is more meaningful to the student than an extrinsic award from a PBS system.

      4. Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Culturally relevant or responsive teaching is pedagogy based on teachers’ having and using cultural competence in their classrooms. This essentially means skills at teaching in a multicultural setting. Teachers design curriculum based off of their student’s culture and life experiences in order to maintain student interest. The material is relevant to their lives, so they are more likely to care about it and engage with the material. Issues stemming from cultural differences betweens peers and school staff can be resolved and therefore less school violence occurs when teachers and schools enact CRT.

  4. Interview with Sean Brooks, Author of Where The Finger Points and Violence Among Students and School Staff

 1.  What do you think are some of the most effective emerging solutions and practices in terms school violence conflict prevention and resolution?

 

I’m not sure there are any.  As a result of a lack of formal education on this subject in pre-service institutions, the practices that are relied upon in K-12 schooling are unproven and potentially counterproductive, thereby creating more violence.  However, I did see a program that once existed and even gave it a try myself when I taught.  It was called “Challenge Day”.  Here is a link on youtube:  type in THIS IS CHALLENGE DAY.  It was also a show that aired on MTV years ago.  I even showed episodes in my class and I had kids who would cry out loud because the topics discussed were so true to what they were dealing with.

While it worked for a short time, in particular during the actual activity, the lasting effect of some of these school wide programs fail to have any impact.  In fact, school-wide programs tend to fail in general and are only as good as the program and those who implement the program.  Teachers are, and should be skeptical of programs that are implemented by administrators or school districts.  They simply lack the education and qualifications to implement such things.  

I mention 2 specific strategies toward the end of my second book.  These work, I have done them and students love it.  

 

2. What are some of the biggest challenges and setbacks schools face in terms of implementing effective school violence prevention and conflict resolution programs?

 

The challenges are many.  School-wide programs are proven to fail and have no lasting impact.  With that said, many con artists also show up claiming to have the solution.  They get paid thousands of dollars, explain their “idea” and then leave with a thicker bank account.  The greatest disappointment for K-12 teachers is this…many if not all of them stop learning and reading about education after they get hired.  The learning just stops.  By simply reading books about adolescent psychology, sociology, and violence, they would all be better equipped to manage all kinds of students.  

 

3. How can teachers make a difference in their own classrooms when there is negative school environment that they cannot control? 

 

Constantly be honest with students.  Don’t make fun of the building or other employees, but tell students that they are here for their own education, not for the education of the person next to them.  There is too much “group think” in schooling and education, and not enough “individualism.”

Teach students to be individuals and think for themselves.  Teaching and learning are individual sports.  They ultimately require Individualism.  This isn’t to say that collaboration can’t be taught or utilized, but too much or even too soon is a bad idea and it leads to problems.  In essence, K-12 schooling, in particular middle and high school should run like a college class.  They show up, learn stuff, write things down, treat them like adults, then they leave.  Pretty simple.  Overall, “education” is not the problem, its “school” that’s the problem.    

Just always be upfront and blunt with students.  They always appreciate that over anything else.  If you act like a scripted robot as a teacher, your students will not respond to you.  In their eyes you’ll just be “another one”, and then you may see more problems as a result.  “Firm but fair” is a good motto.  

 

4. Are there any emerging programs or strategies you have seen or heard of that you disagree with or do not think are effective? 

 

God yes!  The first chapter in my first book describes a program that fits this description.  PBIS or Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, is a “school-wide program” that rewards students for doing the right thing.  Sounds nice, until it starts.  You should never reward students for positive behavior, because that should always be the expectation.  Not to mention if you do reward them, a simple handshake and a thank you in private is always a better idea and it’s more authentic.  Instead of that, the school “demanded” we give students monopoly money every time they did something good.  This is impossible to do and it ensures unfair treatment.  Never do anything that is unfair, like student awards etc.   Worse yet, it taught students that being extrinsically motivated was better than being intrinsically motivated.  Students would want to do well for the sake of doing well, not because they think they may get something in return.  

I recommend reading the first chapter of my first book.  I describe how it exploded and was not only dangerous, but insulting, embarrassing and so forth.    

 

5. What suggestions do you have for implementing strategies and solutions in environments where students often face or witness violence in their home lives? 

 

On the first day of school, telling students that you care about them will invoke a response in them to share these things with you over time.  Always rely on a trusted school counselor, school psychologist or another official if these problems arise.  Stick with the student until the issue is resolved.  If the police need to get involved, let another school official make that call, but you need to be there with the student to reassure them that you aren’t leaving.  If they come to you, it's because they trust you and not others.  I’ve also encouraged students to call the police on their parents, or their parents’ boyfriends and girlfriends.  This has worked too.  In fact some are in prison as a result.  

 

6. What changes have you seen over the years in how school violence and conflict resolution is handled? 

 

Zero tolerance is a myth.  Expulsion rarely happens, even when serious crimes have been committed.  For example, in a local school district, a 17-year-old freshman male student took out their cell phone, slid it under their female teachers desk and took pictures of their female teacher, under her desk, under her skirt.  This student was allowed in school, even with a history of sex crimes and being a registered sex offender.  The student was suspended for 2 weeks then came back.  The teacher didn’t quit, but stayed the rest of the year, then quit at the end of the year.  How on earth can a school let a registered sex offender in their building?????!!!!!

Administrators tend to deal out punishments unfairly and infrequently.  The police need to be involved more often, parents need to be involved more often, and teachers need to tell parents what is going on in school buildings. They always downplay violence.  It’s also covered up.  The case of Emilie Olsen is a perfect example, and these behaviors also happened where I used to work.  Administrators would change discipline referrals and even delete them.  This criminal behavior is deceitful and reckless.  Again, get the police involved after telling administrators about a particular behavior.  Rely on the school’s resource officer, but keep in mind, they too work for the school building, so they may want to engage in image protection as well, thereby foregoing their responsibilities.  

 

7. Is there any articles, additional resources, or information you would like to add that would be helpful for educators?

 

Where The Finger Points and Violence Among Students and School Staff.  I wrote these books on purpose.  I’m blunt and share real events along with scientific research that spits in the face of common bad practices that are invoked in schools today and when I was a kid.  

Don’t rely on the schools or districts professional development.  Seek out books on your own and read them.  Seek out national conferences on education, your subject matter and school violence and attend them too.  You will receive state credit toward your certification if you attend and prove you attended.  Find out what those requirements are and go.  It’s sometimes pricy, but it’s worth it.  

I recommend googling the “journal of school violence” and reading some of their research articles.  Another journal is the “American school health association.”  By goggling these journals you will read proven research on how and why violence exists in school.  As it turns out, its “school” that causes violence, not “education.”   

Never stop reading— never stop attending conferences.  While conferences have a tone of information, (and plenty of it is garbage), if you walk away learning just one thing, it’s beneficial.

 

  1. Resources/Works Cited

Brooks, S. (n.d.). Violence Among Students and School Staff.

http://site.ebrary.com/lib/muohio/detail.action?docID=11309790

http://performancepyramid.miamioh.edu/node/1305

Exposure of Students to Emotional and Physical Violence in the School Environment. http://proxy.lib.miamioh.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rzh&AN=120294601&site=eds-live&scope=site

Effects of the Youth Matters Prevention Program on Patterns of Bullying and Victimization in Elementary and Middle School.: http://proxy.lib.miamioh.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eft&AN=93680596&site=eds-live&scope=site

Youth matters is a prevention program implemented in grades 4 5 and 6. Results were generally successful. Character education was major factor for prevention.

Bullying Among Young Children: Strategies for Prevention.: http://proxy.lib.miamioh.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eft&AN=96107446&site=eds-live&scope=site

Early childhood prevention strategies, could also be used in MC as well.

Bullying Prevention and the Parent Involvement Model: http://proxy.lib.miamioh.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1034733&site=eds-live&scope=site

Parental involvement important to this model. Something to consider in further research.

The Critical Role of School Climate in Effective Bullying Prevention.: http://proxy.lib.miamioh.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eft&AN=90563485&site=eds-live&scope=site