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Violent Incidents Among Selected Public School Students

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1996
73 pages
Violent incidents among students in middle and high schools were studied by means of open-ended interviews with 58 male students and 42 female students from a middle and high school population selected for having high rates of violence.
The middle school was located in a large southern city; the high school was located in a large city in the southern part of the midwest. The interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed. A content analysis established a database of 250 violent incidents. These incidents were further analyzed with respect to their locations, the relationship between the participants, the opening moves in the incident, the typical sequence of moves, and the goals and justifications for acting violently. About half of the incidents occurred in school; one-fourth occurred at home. The most common opening moves were interfering with possessions, requests, saying bad things about someone to another person. rough play and teasing, insults, accusations, and unprovoked offensive touching. The participants reported that violent actions were carried out mainly to accomplish the goals of retribution, defense, and compliance. In addition, both parties often made agreements to fight before the violence began. Moreover, third parties often encouraged violence. Friends and relatives, especially relatives, often joined incidents as they escalated and became violent participants themselves. Findings indicated that a primary aim of school-based violence prevention programs should be to reduce the need for defense, to restrain the drive for retribution, and to teach nonviolent techniques for gaining compliance. In addition, focusing on changing the dispute behavior of adolescents in school and at home may have the greatest impact on violence. Figures, tables, reference notes, and attached report on the study's conceptual framework and methodology

Date Published: January 1, 1996