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School Violence

The History Of School Discipline

School discipline problems have substantially changed through time. Disciplinary action usually concerned talking without permission, being disruptive in class, running in the hallways, or smoking behind the gymnasium. By the 1970s dress codes became a key discipline issue; in the 1980s it was fighting among students. By the end of the 1980s and into the 1990s, gang activity entered schools. Along with it came the problems of weapons, substance abuse, and violent assaults against other students and school staff. Some students even carried firearms for protection.

Crime victim surveys in the early 1990s showed significant rates of robbery or theft and assaults in schools. Victims tended to be in inner-city schools, male, and of a racial minority. While theft was the most common crime in schools in general, assault was the most frequent violent crime. Multiple homicides in schools during this period were uncommon, though there were two in 1992. This yearly figure would more than double by the late 1990s when 3 percent of teachers became victims of violent school crime.

Until the late 1990s school violence was largely a problem of inner-city schools where there were high poverty and crime rates, drug trafficking and prostitution, and poorly funded school districts. The growth of gang activity in schools after 1989 only reinforced these perceptions. The gang presence more than doubled in just four years by 1993.

In a dramatic shift, the highly publicized school shootings beginning in 1995 took the issue of school violence to the suburbs and rural communities of predominately white America. Accordingly the focus on causes of school violence expanded to include such issues as student peer pressure, or how some students were ignored and became outcasts. These behaviors appeared to trigger violent retaliation.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawSchool Violence - The History Of School Discipline, School Shootings, Bullying, Shootings Become More Frequent, The Spring Of 1998