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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 203645 Find in a Library
Title: School Interventions, Not Zero Tolerance, Prevent Gender Violence
Journal: Research & Action Report  Volume:25  Issue:1  Dated:Fall/Winter 2003  Pages:10-12
Editor(s): Jan Putnam
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 3
Document: PDF
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses school interventions in combating bullying and sexual harassment in schools.
Abstract: Effective materials for students, school personnel, and parents are critical to combating bullying and sexual harassment in schools. After intervention, more students are able to recognize bullying and sexual harassment, an important step in stopping these behaviors. One way to dismantle bullying and harassment is to focus on the courage of bystanders and observers. By focusing on small acts of courage, an infrastructure can be built to help dismantle harassment. Some 18 percent of elementary school students in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia report being bullied. Bullying increases throughout elementary school, peaking in middle school, then declining in high school. The damage is not over then. Long-term consequences include a link to teenage sexual harassment and adult domestic violence. Sexual harassment involves a much larger segment of students. Schools can begin in class with lessons about teasing and bullying, take a firm stand against hazing, and offer effective counseling. Prevention programs can reduce the need for punishments. A growing body of anti-bullying laws have pushed many schools to take a zero tolerance stand, imposing harsh, mandatory punishments for vaguely defined behaviors. Some of the interpretations of laws point to common violations of students’ civil rights. Anti-bullying laws are delivering unintended consequences on several levels. First, they degender the conversation by moving it away from sexual harassment. Second, they shift the discussion away from civil rights, which schools must protect, to a focus on individual misbehavior. Extreme violence is the least common threat to school safety. Students are much more likely to face threats to their psychological and social safety. Pressure for legal reform of zero tolerance policies is coming from juvenile rights lawyers, parents, community activists, and researchers. More focus should go to changing behaviors early through school-based programs, counseling, and civil rights and anti-harassment legislation.
Main Term(s): Bullying; Policy analysis
Index Term(s): Acting out behavior; Aggression; Problem behavior; Psychological influences on crime; School discipline; Schools
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