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School Violence

Posted By: John Burruto on April 6, 2002
These comments are directed at Peter Lucas' review of Ronnie Casella's study, not the book itself that is thus far unread by me. Mr. Lucas decries the use of suspensions and other longer term exclusions from school (high schools in this discussion) as a form of violence against students so disciplined, thereby mimicing the most fatuous descriptions of necessary actions taken by school administrators. (Disclosure: I am the principal of an urban/suburban high school that hosts a population of about 50% white and 50% black students, and I have been a secondary principal for 28 years.) The complex and most difficult task of running a large, American high school has been made of late even more difficult by the ideologically prompted transformation of perpertrators of disorder in school and of oppositional conduct against teachers and others by students who defy simple conventions of civil behavior into victims of uncaring or indifferent school officials.

Does it not occur to the author or to Mr. Lucas that the very school culture in which the great majority of students and staff members must live each day is so often rendered unsafe, emotionally exhausting, and educationally unsound by the behavior patterns of violent or merely chronically disorderly adolescents? To limit the damage done to our schools' academic and behavioral climate must be a fundamental consideration of all school officials. Our high schools are not nor should they be considered as quasi-clinical settings in which these seriously disruptive behaviors are tolerated or treated. The violence, Mr. Lucas, is done to the student body as a whole and to the school faculty.
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 School Violence by John Burruto on April 6, 2002
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