What can school summaries of incidences of violence and discipline tell us about how dangerous our schools are?
I live in Manatee County Florida – and our schools are really quite good. I wanted to share with you the SESIR (School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting) report for 2006/2007 school year – http://www.criminologycenter.fsu.edu/sdfs/reports-pubs-SESIR-results.php?All=1&year=2004&district=41
Now – you will notice that the 3 year trend was trending downward meaning, the schools are getting safer. Which is obviously a good thing.
This post isn’t about what’s going wrong. Rather I want to talk about what the predominant reports are about.
When it comes to violence against persons – most of what happens is battery with a little bit of robbery. However, there is also quite a bit of threats and harassment and sexual harassment.
If we are concerned about dealing with bullying – those are the areas we need to target.
• Harassment (including sexual harrassment)
• and Battery
Now – you may wonder why I put them in this order. It’s because – this is the progression of violence. It starts with harassment, escalates to threats and further escalates to violence.
You will also notice that there is a huge jump from elementary to middle school in the number of incidences reported. This is related to the pattern of escalation that occurs.
Name calling and general harassment is a problem but it is often overlooked as “normal” interpersonal interactions by staff and administrators. It’s got to be severe before they intervene. What they fail to realize is that this is where it starts. If you don’t nip harassment in the bud, it will grow and flourish and become threats and battery.
If we want to stop bullying, we have to start intervening earlier in the cycle of violence.
Post note: The other thing we need to look into is why the percentages for black kids getting suspended is so high. Even at elementary level over 5% are receiving suspensions compared to 1% for the rest of the ethnic groups. Are blacks being treated differently by staff unfairly? I don’t know but it’s a research project that needs to be done to find out what the cause of that difference is and why by middle school 39% of black kids are receiving suspensions. We can’t fix this until we know what is causing it and we can’t afford to have that many kids being adversely affected by whatever is causing that number to be so high.