Violence Among the Youths in Inner Schools
Violence among youth, especially in inner city schools, is one of Americas most pressing and controversial concerns. Local studies indicate that youth violence is increasing. In addition, America”s youth, like adults are now more frequently using guns instead of fist to settle their disputes.
While the public is ready to believe that school violence is definitely present, some local leaders and school administrators are not willing to recognize that it is happening in front of their own eyes. They think that people will boycott the communities, their schools will be labeled unsafe and they will be blamed for failing to keep peace and order. Gang activity at school is particularly susceptible to “the Ostrich syndrome,” as many of the administration ignore the problem. A big loss that occurs is that opportunities to help the youth and reduce violence are lost.
Finally, there is sometimes a contradiction between school policies and school practice. Many districts and schools have broad regulations for dealing with violence, and the school enforcement may either be uneven or laidback. This creates a situation where teachers do not feel supported when they necessitate discipline, students do not feel protected and the delinquents will then think that he or she will not be punished. On the other hand, administrators express dismay that the teachers so not enforce policies in the classroom.
Despite these inconsistencies, the government, communities and schools have come up with many promising types of anti- violence approach, and social and personal transformation focusing on discipline. Most have originated in urban areas, where youth violence was first identified.
The federal government has money set aside for after school programs focused on gang prevention and other recreational community activities. Most of these activities are focused on breaking the cycle of violence. The most effective proved to be the long-term family interventions involving, religious and recreational organizations. For example, programs in parenting and family relationships, especially those focused on non-violence and substance abuse can protect children from learning violence at home.
Out of school programs keep youth entertained while the family is unavailable. These programs can also provide youths with attention from caring role models. They also keep the youth away from negative influences on the street. Programs can offer assistance with schoolwork and develop positive values.
Helping young people find employment is an important way for communities to reduce property crime and build the youths self-esteem and sense of responsibility. It also helps the youth see how vital it is to their future to stay in school and further their education and career. Another positive aspect to providing jobs and job training is that it can reduce stress that can trigger violence. “In 1878 economist Carroll D. Wright from Massachusetts Commissioner of Statistics noted that more than 67% of convicts in the state were recorded as ‘having no occupation”: of 220 men sentenced to one year 147 were without trade or any regular means of earning a living” (Currie)
Anti-violence and programs that run in the school can run from a range of ideas. From general education improvement to interventions to target specific groups of students. They involve parents in a variety of roles and community leaders and resources.
The goal is to create a peaceful non-violence school. A commitment to enforcing violence prevention helps the students and the staffs feel safe. In addition to zero tolerance for guns, some school also have zero tolerance for other types of behavior such as assaulting a teacher were violent students will be removed from the classrooms. It might not affect some students to be expulsed from school so school responses to certain type of acts include legal prosecution.
Since there is a strong use of drug sales and violence in the schools by the students, administrators make special efforts to keep the school. To keep students from bringing in weapons some schools use metal detectors and administer random acts of searching students” bodies and possessions.
Teachers used to be the most common type of security but with increasing school violence, schools are hiring security guards to patrol the sites. With school security the most common type of measure is monitoring the students in the hallways and places where they get together the most, like cafeterias, bathrooms and the p.e. field.
Most violent prone school may even form relations with the police to periodically visit the schools and regularly patrol the halls. Probation officers with on site offices can provide help to students who have already been in illegal trouble.
Early intervention is necessary to prevent youth violence. Elementary education training in anger management, impulse control, mediation and conflict resolution skills can prevent youth from participating in violence as they mature. Early discussions about negative consequences of gang membership and providing positive way to get needs met can protect them from future gang recruitment efforts.
Some schools have a specially trained safety coordinator whose primary function is to coordinate anti-violence programs and offer crisis counseling and mediation. Other types of programs offer incentives for positive behavior such as recognition and reward system for good citizenship. The goal is to bring about change in the students so that their behavior is constructive.
Effective gang strategies involve all school operations and staff. It requires good communications and security and staff trained in crisis intervention. Schools not only need to acknowledge their presence but actively investigate its extent and determine who its gang members are, what they do and where are their hang out spots.
The first step is to establish the fact that gang presence such as clothing, paraphernalia, flashing signs or shouting slogans and writing graffiti on school or personal property will not be tolerated. Discipline measures, practiced consistently show the schools seriousness.
Staff who takes a personal interest in individual members by holding personal conferences and counseling can help loosen the hold of the gang, by meeting informally with members and show them positive experiences that would otherwise be lacking in their lives. To do this some staff members may need to change certain attitudes about gang members and spend a little more time than they would with them.
If that does not work offering counseling in a variety of outside agencies and involving parents and making them aware of the choices and consequences that their child is taking may help change the attitude of the child. If all else fails gang members can be transferred to alternative schools for more intensive support.
Concern about increasing youth violence is being routed into a variety of innovative and hopefully effective programs across the country. The most effective programs acknowledge that gang activity and violence exists in their community. Use all available resources like law enforcement and social services. Involve families into both school and community programs, and prepares to engage in long-term effort for positive experiences.
In all communities it is likely that sometimes anti-violence work will be compromised by lack of resources and time. Even the most dedicated individuals may experience moments of frustration. Early evaluations in well-organized programs is possible and even though statistics show that youth violence is steadily increasing the effort and slight expenditure are necessary.