In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section School Violence

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • Reference Works
  • Textbooks
  • Journals
  • School Climate and Culture
  • Bullying and Cyber-Bullying
  • School Violence Risk Assessment and Prediction
  • School Violence Policy
  • Specialized Organizations

Social Work School Violence
Johnny S. Kim, Samantha M. Brown
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 March 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0179


School violence is a social problem that has gained much attention in the United States, Europe, and abroad. Addressing violence in school settings is highly important, and much research has been done to examine its causes and ways to intervene. The topic of school violence is very broad and encompasses many aspects in need of discussion. The Center for Prevention of School Violence defines school violence as any behavior that violates a school’s educational mission or climate of respect or jeopardizes the intent of the school to be free of aggression against persons or property, drugs, weapons, disruptions, and disorder. Miller’s School Violence and Primary Prevention (New York: Springer, 2008), states that school violence includes, but is not limited to, such behaviors as child and teacher victimization, child and/or teacher perpetration, physical and psychological exploitation, cyber victimization, cyber threats and bullying, fights, bullying, classroom disorder, physical and psychological injury to teacher and student, cult-related behavior and activities, sexual and other boundary violations, and use of weapons in the school environment. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics, students aged twelve to eighteen were victims of approximately 828,000 nonfatal victimizations at school in 2010; thirty-three school-associated deaths occurred between 1 July 2009 through 30 June 2010 for youth ages five to eighteen. Over the past several years, the number of deaths as a result of school shootings has increased, with rates of safety and security measures in public schools also growing. A variety of risk factors exist that influence the probability of a youth to engage in violent behavior in schools. In particular, youth characterized by substance use, delinquency, and gang involvement may increase their aggressive behavior. Those exposed to school violence may subsequently experience negative outcomes including alcohol and drug use, delinquency, depression, anxiety, traumatic stress, physical injury, or fatality. Treatment and prevention efforts may mediate the relationship between exposure to school violence and adverse outcomes.

Introductory Works

School violence has a history of more than 200 years in the United States (see Cornell and Mayer 2010). Henry 2000 expands on the description of school violence to include a broader, interconnected definition that addresses the exertion of power over others in school-related settings in which persons are denied their humanity. Efforts to improve school safety stem from movements and subsequent legislation (see Drug-Free Act of 1986 and Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990), which were introduced in response to increased rates of injury and death resulting from school violence. Despite the rapid emergence of multidisciplinary research that examines the impact of school violence, effective school-based interventions to ameliorate safety are needed. Strategies to improve school safety are presented in Mayer and Furlong 2010 and Twemlow and Sacco 2012.

  • Cornell, Dewey G., and Matthew J. Mayer. 2010. Why does school order and safety matter? Educational Researcher 39.1: 7–15.

    DOI: 10.3102/0013189X09357616

    The authors present a historical framework on how school violence has been a concern throughout American history. A conceptual framework and a discussion of the broad context of school safety and order are provided.

  • Henry, Stuart. 2000. What is school violence? An integrated definition. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 567.1: 16–29.

    DOI: 10.1177/0002716200567001002

    The author expands on the definition of school violence to include a wider context of the issue and incorporates various forms of violence that are present in schools. Outlined are the causal effects that result from school violence and a brief policy approach.

  • Mayer, Matthew J., and Michael J. Furlong. 2010. How safe are our schools? Educational Researcher 39.1: 16–26.

    DOI: 10.3102/0013189X09357617

    Provides an overview of the impact of school violence. The authors propose strategies for researchers and practitioners who strive to improve school safety.

  • Miller, Thomas W., and Robert F. Kraus. 2008. School-related violence: Definition, scope, and prevention goals. In School violence and primary prevention. Edited by Thomas W. Miller, 15–24. New York: Springer.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-0-387-77119-9_2

    Focuses on defining school violence in a broad context and the historical background, risk factors, and preventative goals related to violence in schools.

  • Twemlow, Stuart W., and Frank C. Sacco. 2012. Preventing bullying and school violence. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric.

    Presents results from numerous studies examining school safety. The authors discuss the importance of incorporating mental health providers in school bullying and violence prevention efforts. Practical guidelines to address school violence are provided.

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