On Wednesday January 5, 2011 a Millard South High School student walked into his high school armed with a gun. The boy had been suspended from school earlier that morning. He signed in at the office and proceeded to the assistance principal’s office. Within 4 minutes, office staff reported hearing gunfire. The student had shot the assistant principal and the principal as he tried to intervene. He continued to shoot, taking aim at a school custodian and then at a security officer as he fled the premises. The school’s resource officer, hearing the gunshots, responded, but the student was gone. Police found his car in a nearby parking lot. He had taken his own life (Lincoln Journal Star.com, 2011).
The aforementioned incident deeply impacted students, staff and community members around the school district. It created a sense of insecurity in a school community that had always felt relatively safe. And yet, as shocking as it was, many school districts around the nation are dealing with similar tragedies. Within the last 15 years, acts of violence in schools have become more extreme and often times, deadly. Because the violence continues to become more unprecedented, administrators and school district personnel undertake the lofty responsibility of providing a safe learning environment in schools for all students and staff. Standard 3 of the Educational Leadership Policy Standards states “An education leader promotes the success of every student by ensuring management of the organization, operation, and resources for a safe, efficient and effective learning environment” (2002).
Although a majority of schools remain relatively safe, districts and communities see any amount of violence as unacceptable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines school violence as a subset of youth violence. Youth violence
is the “intentional use of physical force or power, against another person, group, or community, with the behavior likely to cause physical or psychological harm” by persons between the ages of 10-24 (2011). Examples of school violence include fighting, weapon use and gang violence on school property, on the way to or from school or at a school sponsored event (CDC, 2011).
Although often overlooked, bullying and electronic aggression such as cyber bullying are also considered school violence. It is a pervasive issue that affects millions of students every year. Lately, there has been much attention given to the seemingly increasing incidents of bullying and cyber bullying. According to the National Center of Education Statistics (2009) 42.9 percent of 6th graders reported being bullied in 2007. However, there is no definitive research that proves incidents of bullying have increased over the years. Rather, perhaps, greater national attention to the issue has prompted schools and communities to take action against this category of school and youth violence.
History and Statistics
In 2001, No Child Left...