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Schools and Crime - Remedial Measures To Reduce School Crime

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A possible strategy for reducing school crime and violence builds on three sociocultural facilitators of crime that may be amenable to change:

  1. Giving high-school-age youngsters a choice between attending high school and dropping out with an option to return later. This deals with the entrapment problem. Students disengaged from school might go to work and return to a regular high school program more amenable to school discipline when they recognize that they need more education. A voluntary high school population will learn more, be happier, and is less likely to behave violently toward teachers and fellow students. Japanese high schools are voluntary and are not only successful in promoting academic achievement and school safety; they influence Japanese junior high school students to take schoolwork seriously because junior high school students must demonstrate by performance their admissibility into high school (Rohlen).
  2. Introducing adults with more conventional values into high schools to buttress the authority of teachers and thereby to serve as guardians of order. Chicago's DuSable High School, an all-black school close to a notorious public housing project, demonstrated the practicality of offering the opportunity for repentant dropouts from the neighborhood to enroll as regular students (Wilkerson). Some of these adult students were embarrassed to meet their children in the hallways; some of their children were embarrassed that their parents were schoolmates; some of the teachers at the high school were initially skeptical about mixing teenagers and adults in classes. But everyone agreed that the adult students took education seriously, worked harder than the teenage students, and set a good example. These adult students were not in school to bolster the authority of teachers. That was merely a by-product of their presence. Although most adults who wish to return to school will not be able to do so during the regular school day, much can be gained by encouraging even a handful of adult dropouts to return to regular high school classes, especially in inner-city high schools where student disengagement is frequent. Teachers who have a serious adult student or two in their classes are not alone with sullen or mutinous teenagers.
  3. Crowding out everyday school violence by increasing the vitality of the traditional academic curriculum. At present the average number of hours of homework done by students each week in public high schools in the United States is much less than the average number of hours of homework done by private high school students (Coleman, Hoffer, and Kilgore, p. 104). Since by comparison with Japanese high school students, American students do hardly any homework at all, it seems feasible to increase the amount of homework expected of American public high school students. The most important reason for doing so is academic. But an incidental effect might be to reduce everyday school violence by competing more effectively with illegitimate curricula like substance abuse and crime.
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