Violence is a very broad concept; it permeates
most aspects of our society, making it a difficult topic to
address. Violence occurs in the home, in schools, at the workplace;
it occurs in private and it occurs in public. It can be ongoing
and personal; it can be random. Violence should be viewed
on a continuum from death and overt physical aggression to
more subtle methods that can include emotional abuse such
as teasing, belittling, shunning, etc. Violence in our schools
reflects the violence that occurs throughout our society.
Violence is a reality for many in our society,
including children, who are among the most vulnerable in the
population. Violence occurs on the interpersonal level with
all forms of domestic violence such as child abuse and maltreatment,
intimate partner violence, and elder abuse. Violence is acute
and fatal, such as the death of a child after a beating from
a parent. Violence can be chronic and ongoing.
Violence can be physical, emotional or sexual.
Violence includes the teasing, bullying and emotional abuse
that some people, adults and children, heap on each other
in peer groups, regardless of age. Violence is present in
gang relationships, among gang members, between gangs and
members of the general public. Violence occurs in the educational
setting-from the first grader who brings a gun to school,
to the tragedy at Virginia Tech where over two dozen people
were shot by a student.
Violence occurs in our popular culture through
a variety of means such as throughout the entertainment industry,
with song lyrics, listened to by countless adolescents, that
aggrandize violence; video games where violence is glorified;
gratuitous violence created by special effects in films; and
the barely-concealed sexually exploitive photos in fashion
magazines, often with sexually violent overtones. Violence
is insidious in our society; it permeates our society.
School violence is a subset of youth violence,
a broader public health problem. Youth violence refers to
harmful behaviors that may start early and continue into young
adulthood. It includes bullying, slapping, punching, weapon
use, and rape. Victims can suffer serious injury, significant
social and emotional damage, or even death. The young person
can be a victim, an offender, or a witness to the violence-or
a combination of these (CDC, n.d.).
Within that context, violence that occurs
in the schools is a component of the larger issue of violence
in our culture. The prevention of violence then must also
permeate all aspects of our society. Prevention of violence
includes laws (there are laws against murder, child abuse,
sexual harassment, etc.), skills training (mediation, conflict
resolution, etc.), social rules (manners, civility, norms
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