Friday, May 1, 2009

School Violence Solved! (Or was it just moved?)

I was excited to come across an article from Chicago in my Google alert for "violence" yesterday. The headline drew me in:

Effort to curb Sullivan High School violence a success

Could this truly be one of those rare news stories about school violence that has a happy ending? Then I read further... It turns out that one of the main components of the "solution" was to get suspended students to sign a statement that they can be arrested if they come within 1000 feet of the school. Questions:
Why would any student voluntarily sign this?
What carrot/stick was used?
Did they have a lawyer present when they signed away their rights?

The article doesn't say.

The article also doesn't say anything about providing some kind of nurturing environment for the suspended students, so one assumes they are pretty much left to the streets. A troubled student on the streets with no supervision during school hours? It will be interesting to watch the violence and crime rate trends in the 1000-2000 foot range from the school!

Another tactic employed to "reduce violence" at this school is to let students leave through multiple exits at the end of the school day so they disperse more quickly. I remember wanting to get away from school as quickly as possible when I was a kid, but it didn't have anything to do with avoiding violence.

IMHO, it seems pretty obvious that these measures are merely band-aids on the issue of youth violence. The violence problem at this school is moved away from the school. Sure, the students who get to stay at the school may have a more pleasant learning environment, and that is worth something. (Even the statistics there are not all that great - 47 crimes in the 3 blocks around the school last month vs. 58 a year ago.) But when they go home to a violent neighborhood, has there been any net improvement?

Instead of applying these types of band-aids on the hemorrhaging wound that is violence in our society, we need to understand and address the root causes of violence. Current legislation in Congress is designed to do that, but it will require the will and lobbying energy of the public to put it into law. The Youth PROMISE act - H.R. 1064 and S. 435 - is designed to reduce youth violence by providing alternatives to gangs and getting troubled youth the skills they need to deal with their problems nonviolently. The Department of Peace act - H.R. 808 - is designed to similar ends, but looking at all sources of violence. Please contact your Representatives and Senators and ask their support for these much-needed pieces of legislation.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Sirs and Madams,

    Please read the attached information regarding a research about coexistence and violence school that will be presented in 6th May 2009, Brazil.

    Yours faithfully,

    Carolina Vieira