By Paul Silli
I am a Nationally Board Certified Social Studies Teacher who works at a middle school with 6th to 8th grade levels, ages 10 to 14, in Urban County, Colorado. Within my schedule I teach a very diverse population of students who range cognitively as well as culturally. For the past two-years because of broadened district boundaries our student body has changed. We have a lot of students who come from different socio-economic situations — and there appears to be a gap in their skills both educationally and in the spoken language (many are Spanish). Through a rigorous effort, I will be researching the causes, trends, and hopefully find solutions to my school’s violence issues. Violence is rising and our current approaches do not seem to be changing matters. Our staff and administration would welcome new methods to decrease violence on campus while maintaining a high quality of education for our students. In the past our school implemented programs to teach our students how to handle themselves as a “deterrent” to violence; it appears the programs were successful, but because of recent budget constraints, we can no longer afford programs such as YES (Youth Empowerment Strategies, video=link) and others…
As I am sure you know school violence is a serious problem. Students often group themselves according to their culture or socio-economic status. Improving the quality of education is difficult without also addressing school violence, since regardless of how good the teachers or curriculum are, violence makes it difficult for students to learn and teachers to teach. For most anti-violence interventions, evidence of effectiveness is either sparse or mixed. Many programs have been imperfectly monitored or evaluated, so few data actually exists. I would like to research the causes – effects, trends, and outcomes of school violence on my campus and attempt to hopefully create a new program to combat the issues (it will need to be helpful & cost efficient). I will be using online surveys (Likert & Shadow) for our student body and staff, interviewing colleagues/administrators, performing Internet research to learn best practices to reduce violence, and other methods to improve our situation.
Note: School violence on my campus wears many faces: It includes gang activity, bullying, intimidation, and assault – just about anything that produces a victim. Violence is mainly perpetrated against students, but sometimes at teachers/staff.
→Any research help or suggestions would be appreciated. Please feel free to comment.