In “Correlates of Physical Violence at School: A Multilevel Analysis of Australian High School Students,” authors Anne C. Grunseit, Neil Donnelly and Don Weatherburn argue the thesis that school policies and development and growth factors influence violent behavior among students. The article approaches this discussion by employing the Social Control and Disorganization theories in proving the above hypothesis. This research article has comprehensively proved that there is a close relationship between violent behavior among students and school policies and development aspects.
The basic assumptions are that school policies with regard to students’ interactions play significant roles in determining whether students will be violent or not. The article explains that schools that have punitive measures against bullies, racists and social misfits have few cases of violence. In addition, teachers’ experiences are also important factors that determine the number of complain filed at various disciplinary offices (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2010). In addition, the article offers an insight into the contributions of parental upbringing in influencing violent behavior among students. It notes that students living with parents aged above 40 years are less likely to be involved in assault compared to those with younger parents.
The methodology used to collect data from the respondents reflects how violence occurs in modern schools. The researchers used a qualitative and quantitative method to obtain data from various quotas. This was a scholarly approach to identifying the relationship between violence, teachers’ involvement and students’ self control in propagating or reducing violence incidences. First, the use of questionnaires was a predominant data collection method in this research. Students were expected to answer questions that were formulated to identify whether they had ever been involved in violence by either assaulting others or being assaulted (Richards 2011).
This approach was successful even though there were some hitches along the way. The use of questionnaires was an effective way of extracting information from students since a face to face interview would not have yielded credible results (Gottfredson 2010). However, it cannot be assumed that all information collected from students was accurate. Most students are rebellious and would give negative feedbacks that taint the images of their schools and teachers. The initial sample selected was not used in the research due to withdrawal and refusal to participate by some schools, teachers and parents. The fact that some students declined to cooperate on the research day means that the research findings were compromised since the sample used was an inadequate representation of the entire population (Farrington 2007).
However, the authors’ thesis was supported correctly especially since they involved the Social Disorganization and Social Control theories. These theories are effective tools in explaining social behavior and thus were useful in analyzing the research findings. The authors appreciated the value of social control in determining the level of violence in various schools (Gottfredson 2010). The manner in which a school and society successfully manages to control its members’ social behavior determines the level of violent behavior among learners.
Even though, it is impossible to conduct a faultless research it is necessary to ensure a high degree of perfection is achieved in terms of data collection, analysis and presentation. It is evident that the research was ill prepared as is expressed by participants’ last minute refusal to cooperate (Richards 2011). The researcher ought to have conducted a reconnaissance with the participants and informed them about the purpose and importance of the research. Some schools, parents and students declined to participate due to victimization fears.
Secondly, there was inadequate representation of all stakeholders as is expected of the research. Juvenile and other correctional facilities should have been involved in the research to give a wide picture of violent students and their behavior after attending these schools (Loeber 2006). In addition, parents were interviewed in their capacity as guardians and not as active subjects of study. There was the need to make a generational comparison between the young and old in terms of causes, modes, consequences and solutions to violent behavior in schools (Blumstein 2009).
The authors present a half baked quantitative analysis of their research to prove their thesis was right. The data presented includes figures showing the number of participants (2,616 Australian students) and how they arrived at this figure through sampling. Even though, the authors argue that they used a questionnaire to collect information from the participants there is no evidence to prove this case (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2010). Secondly, they refer their audience to tables that are not present in their article; therefore, the reader is left hanging as to whether the table is in the appendices or not.
There is no clear quantitative analysis to prove the research was conducted. In addition, there is no actual duration within which the purported research took place and this gives the impression that this article is fictional (Gottfredson 2010). Therefore, the evidence presented is extremely weak and does not prove that school policies, development and growth factors are responsible for violent behavior among students
Contribution to Literature
According to Loeber (2006), many schools and parents do not actively participate in molding students’ behavior. Therefore, they fail to invest in activities that ensure their children become disciplined. This failure is apparent form the challenges facing teachers in dealing with indiscipline students. Additionally, the society is unwilling to invest resources to ensure juvenile delinquency is reduced and the relationship between teachers and students is strengthened (Blumstein 2009).
In addition, the article highlights significant issues discussed by other authors like Shaw and McKay in discussing Social Disorganization Theory. This article plays a significant role in highlighting the relationship among teachers’ experience, teaching and education (Farrington 2007). The presentation does not only recognize the role of teachers as instructors but also as social and moral developers. These contributions enable the paper to facilitate the understanding of violence in schools and how they can be controlled. The article contributes to the literature discussing the relationship between environmental conditions and their roles in determining students’ behavior. While making a comparison between this article and Blumstein’s argument on juvenile delinquency it is apparent that society contributes significantly to student’s behavior and the same argument is presented by this article and Loeber’s discussion that points at the importance of social development at the family and communal levels in molding responsible students (Loeber 2006).
A more current investigation of the process used to establish factors affecting student’s performance at the school and family level found considerable variability in the methods used to determine students’ performance. Despite the consequences of their level of participation, the students also need parents, schools and the society to actively participate in helping their students in schools to ensure they develop socially and academically. This article contextualizes the connection between students’ behavior, school policy and the importance of parental and societal involvement as described by Gottfredson (2010).
The article is without doubt a descriptive and informative approach to dealing with violence in schools. Teachers, learners, parents and educational stakeholders are the greatest beneficiaries of this article. They will identify the link between social development and violence and also the connection between social support and personality development. However, it should have been used to evaluate the importance of teachers’ involvement in students’ social development since the discussion has focused mainly on these two subjects.
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2010). Australian Standard Geographical Classification. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Blumstein, A. (2009). Delinquency Careers: Innocents, Desisters and Persisters. Crime and Justice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Farrington, D.P. (2007). Human Development and Criminal Careers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gottfredson, G. D. (2010). Victimization in School: New York and London. London: Plenum Press.
Loeber, T. (2006). Family Factors as Correlates and Predictors of Juvenile Conduct Problems and Delinquency. Chicago: Chicago Press.
Richards, M. R. (2011). A General Theory of Crime. California: Stanford University Press.