Module 9: Schoolplace Violence


As a problem of increasing scope and severity, schoolplace violence has received considerable media attention over the last number of years. The scope of behaviours subsumed by the term schoolplace violence is considerable and includes verbal and non-verbal threats made directly or indirectly to co-students, teachers, or school administrators, bullying, vandalism, random acts of aggression, and targeted acts of violence, including homicide.

There is currently no unitary typology or profile of a typical schoolplace violence perpetrator, and in fact, some agencies have discouraged the creation and propagation of such a profile. The concern is that students who have any of the proposed characteristics will be typecast as inevitable schoolplace shooters in the making, and consequently maligned. And yet, educators and consultants who work in this field would be remiss if they did not consider risk factors appropriate to the inquiry. Our understanding of the motivation behind and causes of schoolplace violence is rapidly being aided by the expanding literature in the field, and more generally by enhanced understanding of the origins of youth violence.

Schoolplace violence, like any form of violence is interactional, and usually purposeful, albeit the purpose is almost invariably that of a misguided, aggrieved, marginalized, and psychologically compromised youth. Students poised to act out violently may be identifiable by careful consideration of background risk factors, and recent behaviours. Their patterns of verbal and non-verbal communication often provides important clues about violent fantasies, intentions, and plans.

Evaluating schoolplace violence involves consideration of both the at-risk student, and the at-risk school environment.

At the conclusion of this workshop, participants will know most of what is now understood about the causes and phenomenology of schoolplace violence. They will also appreciate the risks associated with students and school environments susceptible to a violent incident. Participants will also be taught to recognize impending signs of violence, and options available to both avert an incident, and manage an incident in progress.