Investigating Critical & Contemporary Issues in Education/Drugs and Violence

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Chapter 7: Drugs and Violence

Brittany Chesser: Brunswick

One of the many problems the nation is facing in the school systems is the illicit use of drugs and violence. Illicit drug use and violence is becoming more and more of a main headline and is a serious situation that needs to be addressed in school systems.

School violence starts out with the bully on the playground, or the pushing and shoving in the lunch line, but given the right set of circumstances, what may have been prevented with some supervision instead turns into a violent state of affairs. However, school violence does not start in the school. “Most behaviors are learned responses situations and circumstances a child has seen in his or her on home” (Bosworth, 1996). Studies have proven that a child living in an abusive home or those children who have a lack of supervision will most likely become involved in some sort of violent behavior.

In most family settings, both parents work in order to provide for the needs of the family. The consequence of having both parents out of the home is the lack of guidance for the children. The child in essence becomes his or her own boss. “Sibling violence can erupt, setting the ground layer for later violence in the school setting” (Last, 2001). If a child is able to get away with bullying his or her own sibling, nothing is going to stop them from attacking their peers at school.

The involvement of illicit drug abuse is commonly brought on by one’s peers or seeing it in the home. “Methamphetamine, marijuana, and prescription pain relievers are among the most abused by teens who act violently” (Bosworth, 1996). The more drugs a teenager uses, the greater the tendency to engage in a violent behavior, both in a school setting and elsewhere.

Drug use impairs the judgment, reaction time, and inhibitions of a child. Faulty judgment can quickly lead to conflict or violence. The student may either initiate or escalate a conflict that he or she would have “blown off” under normal circumstances. Rob Lugo makes a statement, “Even if the students have the skills to resolve conflict, as they use illicit drugs, it impairs their judgment. They become bolder, they do not think as much, and the violence consumes them.” (Lugo, 2007) Even if the disputing students in school are not using drugs, a fight may erupt over a dispute that occurred outside school when a child was under the influence.

“According to a data base, from 2002 through 2004 youth aged 12 to 17 who use any illicit drug in the past year were almost twice as likely to have engaged in violent behavior as those who did not use any illicit drug” (Gruber, 2002). The rate of violent behavior was higher among adolescents in families with incomes less 125 percent of the federal poverty threshold. Also, the rate was three times higher among males than females.

Another survey which was done over a twelve month period showed 7.8 % of high school students reported having been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property. “During the twelve month survey, 12.4 % of students had been in a physical fight on school property at least once. In thirty days of doing the twelve month survey, 5.5% of students reported that because they did not feel safe, they did not go to school on at least one day” (Resnick,2004). The survey also showed that the rate of violent crimes and illicit drug abuse occurred during the after school hours between 3:00 - 7:00 p.m. The rate of violent acts committed during this period is nearly six times greater than the rate committed during the night hours of 10:00 p.m. - 6:00 a.m.

The solution to helping prevent illicit drug abuse and violence in children is to get them involved in after school activities. “Structured activities and volunteering help keep teens away from illicit drug abuse and committing violence” (Tucker, 2006). By creating positive opportunities for teens to participate in activities where they have choices, they can develop conflict-resolution and critical-thinking skills, which protect teens from violence, and antisocial behavior. This should be done by the school and with the help of the community. The community should form a team with the school system and help in shaping the minds of the younger generation.

Nonviolence should be taught as part of the school curriculum as well, such as creating an ethics class so that students understand the right perceptions about life. We should be educating today’s youth about the affects of violence, how the police are there to help them, and how to manage conflict in a non-violent way. Teachers and counselors also need to be taught how to watch for unusual behaviors and to address the dilemma before it becomes out of control. Such measures are essential in stopping drug use and senseless violence in our school systems.


Resnick, MD, Rinehart (2004), PM Influencing Behavior: The Power of Protective Factors in Reducing Teen Violence. Tucker, J. (2006) Teens Who Abstain from Marijuana Use Are Better Adjusted Than Peers, Journal of Adolescent Health.

Bosworth, Kris (1996) Center for Adolescent Studies, Indiana University

Gruber, Kerry (2002) National Center of Education Statistics

Lugo, Rob (2007) Preventing Drug Abuse Among Children and Adolescents: A Research-based Guide for Parents, Educators and Community Leaders, Second edition. NIDA

Last, Louise (2001) School Violence, Lucent Books, Inc., San Diego, California

Chapter 7 Taylor Charko

Being successful in school is hard enough with homework, after school activities, or having a job that takes up a lot of free time you could use to get school work done. What if there was more in the way, preventing you from doing your best? What if you had to deal with violence on top of it? Would you have trouble in school if you knew everyday there was a chance of someone physically, mentally, or sexually hurting you? What if you had a drug problem or someone who lived in your home did? Not only will this paper help with understanding why drugs and violence affects student learning so much, but it will help show ways of preventing it. Violence affects student learning in two different ways. Violence in schools plays a big role on the education of students. When committing a violent act in school, the student could either be suspended or get detention. That causes them to miss out on a lot of school and learning. Many students may not even come to school in fear of being bullied or having another student get violent on them.

“Seventy-nine percent of violent children have witnessed violence between their parents,” (Lewis, 1983). Violence at the home could also play a major role in the learning of students. Children who have to deal with domestic violence at the home may have trouble concentrating in school because they are too worried about what is going to happen when they get home. They may even miss more school than those who are not dealing with domestic violence because they feel there is no point and they will not be successful anyways due to the lack of self-esteem they get at home. When students face domestic violence at the home they are more likely to indulge in violence themselves. This could cause them to pay more attention to who is going to be their next target at school instead of how they are going to do their homework.

In the year 2000 more than sixty percent of teens said that drugs were sold, used, or kept at their school (GDCADA, 2006). Concentrating in school is made difficult with so many students using school as a place of dealing with drugs instead for a place of learning. Paying attention to a teacher is not easy when you have someone selling drugs right next to you or someone who is currently on drugs and not hiding it right next to you. Not only are they a distraction, but they create fear. Making the student wonder what they might do since their brain is warped by drugs.

“Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self-respect and everything that goes along with your self esteem” (Kurt Cobain). Not only do drugs affect student learning by distraction, most drugs affect the brain. They can cause memory loss, damage to the brain and/or brain cells, and others, such as marijuana, have shown to weaken problem solving ability (Nahas;Burks, 1997). With students killing their brains on drugs, how are they supposed to focus?

The prevention of drugs and violence in school needs to be improved and better enforced. Teachers could improve violence by punishing the students for the crime. A lot of teachers may see violence in school and not deal with it because they do not want to get involved and they need to get involved. Talking to students about violence and how it affects the student body and themselves is a way to lead students in the right direction. Parents should let their children know that violence is not to be tolerated and the parents should show violence in front of their children. Apparently a lot of teachers and parents have been realizing the seriousness of violence because the statistics of violence in schools as dropped dramatically from thirty-four percent to fourteen percent from 1994 to 2007 (NCVS, 2005). Parents could also help prevent the use of drugs by talking to their children about it and not providing for them. Teenagers whose parents talk to them regularly about the dangers of drugs are forty-two percent less likely to use drugs than those whose parents do not, yet only one in four teens report having these conversations (GDCADA, 2006). If students are learning at home from their own parents how bad drugs are for you, how can you expect them to listen to anybody else? Teachers and parents are the adults. They need to make sure students better understand how violence and drugs affects them and the people around them.