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Review of "Learning About School Violence"

By Matthew W. Greene
Peter Lang, 2001
Review by Sundeep Nayak, MD on May 5th 2003

It is common knowledge that our children report feeling increasingly unsafe traveling to and from school, as well as during time spent at school. Studies have variously documented nearly half of all teens believing their schools were becoming more violent, a tenth feared being shot or wounded by armed classmates and twice as many feared restrooms as lairs for student victimization. Much federal money has been allocated to prevent aggressive behavior in our schools while simultaneously targeting early interventional and therapeutic measures. As school districts are faced with armed children, schoolgoers lacking compassion, serious substance abuse issues and juvenile criminal records, it is critical for the community at large to be actively involved in the complex social policy problem that is school violence.

Learning About School Violence: Lessons for Educators, Parents, Students and Communities is a most pedestrian compilation of Matthew W Greene, a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Colorado who counsels students and families on educational planning. The very first paragraph indicates that "as a graduate student with long-standing interests in conflict resolution and policy-making, (Greene) began gradually to link (his) study of theories of nonviolence, such as those of Ghandi (sic), King and Sharp": the reader knows what lies beneath. What follows are page after painful page of documentation, definition, ill-expounded theory and more documentation. Most of this pertains to the State of Colorado, the Denver Public Schools (Top Ten Suspension Reasons over Time, anyone?), and the Colorado Springs School District, all whittled within the fabric of bureaucratic policy makers by the chisel of pithy prose. While one cannot argue that epidemiological data is necessary in risk stratifying and identifying and delineating patterns of problem-related factors, simply slapping the reader's forehead with accumulated numbers and figures will not make the problem go away. It will just result in a massive incorrigible headache.


Read more in:

q       Allensworth D, et al: Schools and Health: Our Nation's Investment. 512 pp. Institute of Medicine, 1997

q       Begun RW, Huml FJ (Eds.): Ready-To-Use Violence Prevention Skills Lessons & Activities for Secondary Students. 231pp. Jossey-Bass. October 2002

q       Devine J: Maximum Security: The Culture of Violence in Inner-City Schools. University of Chicago Press, December 1996

q       Eccles J, Gootman JA (Eds.): Community Programs to Promote Youth Development. 432 pp. National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2002.

q       Hyman IA, et al: School Discipline and School Violence: The Teacher Variance Approach, 400pp. Allyn & Bacon, 1996

q       Hyman IA, Snook PA: Dangerous Schools: What We Can Do About the Physical and Emotional Abuse of Our Children. 288 pp. Jossey-Bass. July 1999

q       Jones TS, Compton R: Kids Working It Out: Strategies for Making Peace in Our Schools. 360 pp. Jossey-Bass. December 2002

q       Koertge R, Koertge R and Ering TB: The Brimstone Journals. 128 pp. Candlewick Press, Feb 2001

q       Moore MH et al (Eds.): Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence, 400pp. National research Council, 2003

q       Nicolleti J, Spencer-Thomas S: Violence Goes to School. 213 pp. National Educational Service. July 2002

© 2003 Sundeep Nayak


Dr. Nayak is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Radiology in the University of California School of Medicine San Francisco and his interests include mental health, medical ethics, and gender studies. A voracious reader and intrepid epicure, he enjoys his keyboards too much. He is constantly looking for answers to challenges rather than arduous policies and hard statistics.

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