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Reducing and Preventing Violence in Schools

NCJ Number
Gayre Christie; Simon Petrie; Carol Christie
Date Published
34 pages
Schools in Australia play a significant role in creating the situational context in which violence can occur and in preventing violence in the school setting, and the PeaceBuilders program has been designed as a long-term early intervention program to reduce school violence.
Violence in schools takes many different forms, and the problem of violence in schools has become one of the most pressing educational issues in Australia and other countries. Forms of violence in schools include bullying, gangs, hate crimes, and racism. The challenge of managing discipline in schools is intensified by the growing number of students identified with emotional and behavioral disorders. Children at high risk for later conduct problems, including aggressive behavior and violence, can be reliably predicted from early childhood characteristics. Factors underlying violence in schools are complex, and parents and families have a significant influence on children's attitudes. Additionally, individual personal characteristics such as low self-esteem, poor communication skills, and a pervasive sense of hopelessness and cynicism have been linked with delinquent behavior and violence. Further, school influences such as classroom organization and management practices affect student behavior. Potential solutions to violence are considered in the context of the school environment, social skills training, and behavior modification programs. The PeaceBuilders program is described as an early intervention strategy for reducing violence in schools. The program recognizes the importance of cognitive, social, and imitative markers of children developmentally at risk for later violent behavior. By concentrating on these markers, the program provides a targeted violence prevention approach that has immediate, short-term, and long-term effects. The introduction of the PeaceBuilders program in a pilot community in Queensland is detailed. 132 references and 4 tables