Foundations of Education and Instructional Assessment/Sociological Influences/Violence

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How Schools and Teachers Can Create

Safe Schools and Eliminate Bullying

Wiki Article by Amanda M. Artzer

Learning Target

This article’s learning targets are designed to help future teachers. Outside links are provided to help readers even further. The article is broken down into many sections for easy understanding.

The point of this article is to enable readers to gain control of their classroom. It focuses on bullying, and how to identify bullies.

Readers should be able to recognize some of the signs of school bullying.

Ideas and ways of preventing bullying will be suggested to help future teachers eliminate violence in schools. Readers will have a grasp of what to do about bullying.


Children are more often the target of violence, rather than the cause. Schools should be a safe place for all students. (U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences , 2007)

For statistics visit

Bullying is a form of violence. What is bullying?

From 1994-1999, 253 deaths were associated with violent events. Of these, 74.5% were caused by guns.

“In 1998-99 academic year, 3,523 students were expelled for bringing a firearm to school.”

“Nearly 8% of adolescents in urban junior and senior high schools miss at least one day of school each month because they are afraid to attend.”

(National Education Association Health Information Network, 2005)

Bullying can be physical, threats, teasing, and exclusion. The bully will often blame their target for their actions. (StopBullyingNow )

Why are people bullied? Here are some examples (Teens health, 2007).

• They are shy
• They look different
• They do not fit in
• Race
• Sexual orientation
• They are an easy target
• Social status

Types of Bullying

• Physical
o Punching, kicking, sexual assault, showing, tripping, etc.
• Psychological
o An example of this gossip, and spreading rumors about a person.
• Verbal
o Such as teasing and taunting a person.
• A newer one is Cyber bullying
o Cruelty through instant messages, web pages, emails, etc.

Who bullies?

They are people who feel the need to dominate others. They can think of themselves as the greatest, or be very insecure. Others have personality disorders (Teens health, 2007).

What is bullying?

“Physical aggression: hitting, kicking, pushing, choking, punching
• Verbal aggression: threatening, taunting, teasing, starting rumors, hate speech.
• Exclusion from activities: This does not mean that a student should have to be friends with every other student; it does mean that children should not be allowed to systematically exclude others: "No one play with Mary;" "No one wants to play with him;" "Don't be her friend."


Examples of Bullying
The McKinney North High School and The Texas Cheerleading Scandal

Five cheerleaders at McKinney high school in Dallas, Texas were at the heart of a huge scandal. They did not just bully students, but they bullied teachers as well. The girls called themselves the “Fab Five” and were the top social clique at their school. The “ringleader” of the group was the daughter of the principal, Linda Theret. On homecoming night, some of the girls arrived to the dance already drunk.“When one teacher told a squad member to quit chatting on her cell phone in class, the girl replied, "Shut up, I'm talking to my Mom." When another teacher, on a separate occasion, was disciplining her, the girl replied, “Pull your panties out of a wad.” The girls drove five cheerleading coaches to quit in three years.

The last coach the girls dealt with, Michaela Ward, was bullied by the girls as well. “Among the pranks they allegedly pulled on Ward: giving her what the report described as a "chocolate tampon" and sending racy text messages from her cell phone to her husband and another coach.” When pictures of the girls surfaced on the internet of them in Condom shops, and drinking; the girls were suspended from the cheerleading squad. When they were told they would be kicked off if another incident occurred a girl replied, “Good luck with that.” Ward is the one who took action. She resigned from the school, and went to the media ( Kovach, Campo-Flores , 2007).

Reducing Violence

Why is it important to rid schools of violence?

If violence is addressed in a school, before the students reach adulthood, it can help eliminate violence and crime in communities (SafeYouth ).

How can schools reduce violence?

In order to effectively address the problem, schools must have a plan and not act blindly. According to the 2000 Safeguarding Our Children:An Action Guide, from the Departments of Education and Justice and the American Institutes of Research, studies have found plans need three separate criteria:

1. Positive behavior must be addressed and supported. This does not just include discipline, but extends to academics as well. Teachers must provide a “caring school environment,” and engage students to participate and excel. Love and support should be shown to all students, and not just negative behavior should be noticed.

2. Students who have “…severe academic or behavioral difficulties early on…” should be recognized and helped immediately. This should begin early on, before problems can escalate and become overwhelming challenges. Services, such as tutoring and counseling, should be provided.

3. Students who are “…experiencing significant emotional and behavioral problems…” should have intervention from schools. Schools needs to collaborate with outside sources, such as “…social services, mental health providers, and law enforcement and juvenile justice authorities.”

How can teachers prevent violence in their classrooms?

How will you, a future teacher, recognize gang members? Schools must work with their teachers. General staff meetings are routinely held at schools to help teachers understand the specific threats of violence in their school’s community. An example of this would be possible gang activities, and ways to identify members of a nearby gang. Administrators also listen to teachers, because teachers may have prior knowledge through interaction with students (Schwartz, 1996).

How do you prevent students from being involved in gangs?

Positive attention is the best way to prevent violence before it happens. Teachers often identify problems before administrators, because of their close contact with students. Teachers should offer help with schoolwork, let administrators know of possible concerns with a student, “…or even just [be] a sympathetic ear.” If you notice any at risk student, or a student being bullied, let the administrators of your school know. Do not ignore your concerns (Schwartz, 1996).

But, how can schools further help future teachers?

Possible future and further help for teachers would be training how to prevent violence. Many bus drivers already go through similar training. This will help teachers feel more secure, and “…to deal safety with violence should it erupt.” Programs must include identifying risks and what to do in situations (Schwartz, 1996). Unfortunately, not all schools provide these services. If your school does not, provided below are a few links for help.


Above is mentioned that a teacher must have the right environment. But, how do you create a nurturing classroom? What are some things a teacher SHOULD NOT do?

In order for children to gain your trust, and have a nurturing classroom, do not sit back behind a desk while students do exercises at their desks. Let them know you are there to help. Walk around and make sure no one has questions.
Do not verbalize frustration, or “pick on” students. Be very mindful of comments that can be hurtful, or considered negative reinforcement. Never yell or scream at a student. Make sure that you, the teacher, do not become a bully (StopBullyingNow).

Link for more information to assess what makes a teacher a bully:

T – Tailor for diversity. Make it a point to know as much as possible about your students, including their diverse cultural, ethnic, behavioral, and learning characteristics, along with stressors they may experience outside of school.
E – Encourage positive behavior. Aim for a 4:1 ratio of positive comments to negative corrections for all the students.
A – Arrange the environment for success. Teach your behavioral expectations directly and immediately through collaboratively-established classroom rules and well designed classroom routines.
C – Consult your peers. Seek collaboration with experienced teachers and specialists before difficult problems start to become entrenched.
H – Hug yourself. Prevent stress and burnout by focusing each day on what you are accomplishing and not just on what is frustrating.”
(The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment)

Look for at Risk Students

How do I identify these students?

Students who are not attending class, and are disruptive are an example. Other factors are listed on the TeachSafeSchools website. It is important to catch them early (The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment).

Look for disruptive behavior, and wonder why a student is acting that way. Try to understand students as best as possible. Enforce behavior in September to establish authority. Sit disruptive children near the teaching area. For more ways to intervene, go to http://www. teachsafeschools. org/bully_menu5. html#5b .

Some of the examples listed are:
“Never use victim’s names with the bulling student so as to reduce retaliation possibilities.”(The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment)

Personal Analysis

Teachers are not just responsible for teaching, but also need to look out for students. They have a responsibility to students to try to help them out as much as possible. Teachers should make students feel safe and comfortable to learn in their classroom.

The Overall Summary of this Article

1. Do not be afraid to tell administrators your concerns.
2. Positive reinforcement allows for a better classroom environment.
3. Stop problems before they become problems.
4. Collaborating allows for more effective problem solving.
5. Teaching is not the only responsibility of teachers in the classroom.


Some might have more than one answer. Select from the choice what the best answer is.

1. On the first day of school, Ms. Stevens is welcoming her class of fourth graders. Her student, Sean, immediately begins being disruptive. He is talking and making jokes while they are reading out loud. Of the choices below, which would be the best action for Ms. Stevens to do?
a. Send Sean to the Principal’s office.
b. Verbalize her discontent for his behavior with anger, and make him write his name on the board.
c. Next class she should move him closer to her desk, and try to enforce positive behavior.
d. Sit him in the back of the classroom and ignore him the rest of the day.

2. What does bullying include?
a. Showing off, being disruptive, teasing
b. Refusing to do activities
c. Teasing, being rude to others
d. Physical and Emotional abuse

3. What percentage of adolescents in urban and junior and senior high schools, miss at least one day of school each month because of fear to attend?
a. 5%
b. 6%
c. 7%
d. 8%

4. Mrs. Evans suspects a student in her class of being involved in a gang. What is the best action?
a. Call his parents
b. Notify an administrator
c. Ignore her concern
d. Give him detention

5. Behavioral enforcement and rules should begin when?
a. After exams
b. After a student acts up
c. The first day of class
d. When many students are disruptive

Answers to questions:

1. The best answer is “C.” Ms. Stevens does not know why Sean was acting that way. Was he bored? Did he finish ahead of the other students? Is he having trouble reading? Or is it another issue?
2. “D” is the answer. Please review the bullying section.
3. “D” is the answer here as well, and the information is in a sidebar.
4. “B” is the best answer. Mrs. Evans should not ignore it, and the parents may not care that he is in a gang.
5. The best answer is “C.” Let students know from the first day of class what the rules are, and what you expect.

References Used in Article

Kovach, G, & Campo-Flores, A (2007). Mean Girls. Newsweek. Retrieved February 4, 2009, from

National Education Association Health Information Network, (2005, June 17). Statistics: Gun Violence in Our Communities. Retrieved February 4, 2009, from National Education Association Health Information Network website:

SafeYouth, Elements of Effective School Violence Prevention Plans. Retrieved February 4, 2009, from SafeYouth website:

Schwartz, W (1996). An Overview of Strategies To Reduce School Violence. ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education, New York NY. Retrieved February 4, 2009 from

StopBullyingNow, Identifying Bullying. Retrieved February 4, 2009, from Stop Bullying Now website:

StopBullyingNow, What can educators do about bullying by school staff? Retrieved February 4, 2009, from StopBullyingNow website:

Teens health, (2007, June). Teens health. Retrieved February 4, 2009, from Dealing With Bullying website:

The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment, Classroom Management. Retrieved February 4, 2009, from TeachSafeSchools website:

The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment, Improving School Safety. Retrieved February 4, 2009, from TeachSafeSchools website:

U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (2007, December). Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2007. Retrieved February 4, 2009, from National Center for Education Statistics website:

Other Links Listed,27972,1859590,00.html