June 19 2006
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - As a special education teacher and vice principal at Chicago inner-city schools, Kevin Myers has seen his share of violence. Using archived data on eighth-graders from the "National Crime and Victimization: School Supplement Survey," Myers, a Ph.D. candidate in Indiana State University's Educational Leadership, Administration, and Foundations program, found that not only does violence correlate to doing poorly in school, but that, despite national efforts to curb school violence, it has not improved.
"Looking at the national sample and supporting data from 2003, the rate of violence in schools has not changed significantly in the last 10 years, even though programs have been put in place and interventions have been made to try to stem the violence," said Myers of Streator, Ill., principal at Indian Plains Alternative High School in Aurora. "Suicides have stayed the same, but multiple homicides and bullying have increased."
For his doctoral research, Myers looked at three types of violent behaviors and compared them to the type of school, student demographics and achievement in school.
The three violent behaviors he analyzed were victimization, which is teasing and taunting, such as hate words written on lockers and theft; personal physical violence, which includes fights; and perception of violence, which is how the students feel about their school, whether they feel safe and if they witness student aggression toward staff.
"Whatever interventions we've been doing - whether it's character-based education classes, metal detectors, police searches or a zero-tolerance policy - have not worked," Myers said. "We are still seeing significant [violent] events taking place in public schools, despite these efforts."
VIOLENCE AFFECTS ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
Myers' findings support the idea that violence does have an impact on students' performance in school. The students who exhibited the violent behavior were the most affected academically. Victims of violent behavior also were affected academically, but not to the same extent.
While slightly more males than females were involved in violent behaviors, females were close behind, Myers said, and were doing just as poorly in school as males when they were involved in violent acts.
PRIVATE SCHOOLS FARED NO BETTER THAN PUBLIC
To his surprise, Myers found that location, such as being in the inner-city, had very little to do with the rate of violence in the school. A much greater factor was whether the school was public or had a religious affiliation.
"Children in public schools - between 55 and 75 percent - consistently answered that violent behavior was a problem in their school," Myers said. "What was surprising was that the response rate was the same for private, non-religious schools."
While private schools with no religious affiliation fared no better than public schools when it came to the rate of violence, only 20 percent of Catholic school students responded that violent behaviors were a problem in their school.
"From this, I concluded that a school climate that does not have the religious influence or a small-school, formal structuring leads to students being victimized more often and students being more outwardly aggressive," he said. "Further study should be done to take a closer look at this discrepancy between Catholic and religious schools, and the higher rate of violence in public and private, non-religious ones."
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Contact: Kevin Myers, doctoral student, Indiana State University; principal, Indian Plains Alternative High School, Aurora, Ill.; (815) 603-0531.
Writer: Katie Spanuello, media relations assistant director, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3790 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Indiana State University news: www.indstate.edu/news
Using archived data on eighth-graders from the "National Crime and Victimization: School Supplement Survey," Kevin Myers, a Ph.D. candidate in Indiana State University's Educational Leadership, Administration, and Foundations program, found that not only does violence correlate to doing poorly in school, but that, despite national efforts to curb school violence, it has not improved.