School Violence Jim cringed when he heard his assistant yelling to him from her office across the hall. The principal from your daughter’s school is on the phone. Jim picked up the phone, noticing that is was already 2:15 PM by the wall clock in his office, and timidly said, hello? Ms. Jensen, the principal, (sounding exasperated) said, good afternoon Mr. Wilson, I am calling because your daughter assaulted a boy during assembly this afternoon and I need you to meet with me as soon as possible and then take her home. I can’t today, Jim told her, I have a board meeting in less than an hour.
Send her home on the bus and I will tell my house keeper to keep an eye on her till I get home. Can Mrs. Wilson come in? I really need to discuss your daughter’s behavior with one of you in person as soon as possible, said the principal. No, she is out of town on business and won’t be back till this weekend, but I will have my assistant call you back later and set up an appointment for me to meet with you tomorrow or the next day. In today’s society with the predominance of dual income families, parents are often too busy to raise their children, they rely on sitters or housekeepers to care for, and in some cases actually raise, their children. Student violence in our schools has become a major national issue, as reported by numerous newspapers over the last several years.
This problem not only endangers both students and teachers, but also prevents teachers from teaching and students from learning for fear of dangers in the deceptively peaceful school environment. In order to create a safe environment that is conducive to learning, preventative programs that address the root causes of violence must be developed. A possible, though somewhat extreme solution to this problem would be to hold parents legally responsible for their children’s actions and/or behavior. The factors that contribute to school violence are too numerous to count, very diversified, and everyone probably has their own opinion of what they are. For example, teachers perceive that the major factors contributing to student violence are lack of parental supervision at home (71 percent), lack of family involvement with the school (66 percent), and exposure to violence in the mass media (55 percent) (taken from The American Teacher, 1993). Today’s children are pretty bright, they realize that since both of their parents work if they do something wrong at school it will be very hard to contact their parents. They also probably believe that even if the school gets in touch with their parents that they will be too busy to respond to the school other than by just answering the phone.
Compounding these problems even further, when children repeatedly get into trouble, parents may still refuse to deal with the situation and have their sitters or housekeepers take care of the problem. Some parents may even believe there is nothing they can do to control their children, or that the school itself is the one to fault and not their children. Why can’t the school do more to control the actions of the students? After all, they see them more than we do. This thought process along with the student violence itself poses serious problems to our schools and the future of our society in general. But who is to blame; who is ultimately responsible; and what can be done to remedy these problems? This new educational environment, which in some respects often resembles a war zone, has created a need for society to develop programs that will offer a safe learning environment for all children and the teachers who teach them. Since laws demand that children attend school, schools have the inherent responsibility to provide them with a safe place where they can learn. To reach this goal most schools have taken technological steps (such as metal detectors and/or police guards) to try to stop some of the more violent acts from happening.
While those steps may prevent students from conducting violent acts at school, they will not root out the more basic behavioral problems. And schools can’t do it alone. Parents have to get involved and it may take enacting strict laws to get parents to the table. Is it legal to create a law that would hold parents (criminally) responsible for their children’s actions? Maybe not, but it sure would get their attention. If the law were enacted, what would the punishment be? Would you take the child away and put them in a home where it could end up being worse to their development than staying with their parents? Fine the parents? That could ultimately cause them to have to work more and further neglect their children.
Parents often have to concentrate more on their economic survival than the attitudes and behavior of their children. They do not have the quality time to spend with their children because of job responsibilities and ultimately rely on others to raise their children. While student violence is an enormous problem for our society and there is no simple remedy to fix it, something has to be done. Children have to be guided, and it is our most important job as parents to do just that. Parents have to nurture their children and provide them with strong positive guidance and discipline. We have to send our children to school as responsible and respectful young people and we can’t expect our sitters or housekeeper to supplant us as parents. Making parents legally accountable for their children and requiring them to assume primary responsibility for the actions and control of their children may be the only way to do this and will ultimately offer the best chance for reducing the violence in our schools. Social Issues.