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The Roots of Violence in Society

Carolyn N. Kinder

Contents of Curriculum Unit 02.06.02:

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Every day some young adolescents in America’s middle schools use violence as a way of resolving their problems. Many of them do not have the skills to deal with anger or feelings of hostility that they maybe experiencing as a result of conflict with friends, family or with each other. They need teachers and other caring adults to teach them the skills necessary to resolve their anger and conflicts.

The purpose of this unit on “The Roots of Violence in Society” is to provide young adolescents the opportunity to develop skills that are necessary to solve anger and conflicts in a positive and less destructive manner. This unit adresses: male-male violence, female-female violence, male-female violence, group against group violence and property violence (theft or vandalism).

This unit is written for social development classes and can be used with students in grades 5-8. “The Roots of Violence in Middle Schools” addresses Content Standard 2 of the Social Development Curriculum for New Haven Public Schools: Promotion of Emotional & Mental Health. This means, as a result of teaching this unit, students should develop pro-social attitudes and values. For examples, students will understand the effect people have on one another, explore basic groups of feelings and their importance in our lives, analyze their need to belong to some group and the role this need to play in peer selection, and evaluate personal behaviors that may hurt themselves or others. This approach provides an effective way for students to solve problems and take responsibilities for their citizenry.

This unit consists of content knowledge, lesson plans, a resource list for teachers, teacher reading list, student reading list and a bibliography.

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Why People Act Violently

Have you ever wondered why violent people behave violently? Our brains are evolved to have the capacity to respond violently to certain situations. Although these ‘instincts’ may have been adaptive at some time in our evolutionary past, in the modern environment, they may be destructive. Nevertheless, the propensity to violence is still wired into the structure of our brains by our genes. This does not mean that humans automatically engage in violence, but than we are more prone to violence than rationality would predict. We have the genetic structure to become violent.

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The Status of Violence

Society today is full of evidence of violent behavior. Everywhere we look there is violence on television, in our home, school and community. Violence has been a part of our evolution as far back as the days of our relatives, the chimpanzees. The status of violence in the chimpanzees and humans has a common origin.1 Chimpanzee-like violence preceded and paved the way for human violence in our society today.

Over the past quarter of a century, there has been a three hundred percent increase in the number of teenage homicides in the United States. While violence cuts across ethnic and gender lines, females have lower homicide statistics because they are involved in fewer fighting behaviors than males. Below is a timeline that gives a sample of violent incidents in the U.S. middle schools.

A Sample: Timeline of Middle School Violent Incidents in the U.S.

December 6, 1999, Fort Gibson, OK.

A 13-year old boy fired a 9mm semiautomatic handgun in Fort Gibson Middle School, causing a disturbance in which four students were wounded and one was severely bruised.

May 22, 1998, Memphis, TN

Ten- year old- Travis C. Leaper pointed a loaded .25 caliber semi-automatic pistol at a classmate’s head and said “pow”.

April 24, 1998, Edinboro, PA.

Fourteen-year-old Andrew Wurst was charged with killing a teacher and wounding two students at a dance at James W. Parker Middle School.

March 25, 1998, Daly City, CA.

A 13-year-old supposedly angry at being sent home early from school, fired a pistol at the principal in a crowded schoolyard of his middle school.

March 24, 1998, Jonesboro, AR.

Thirteen-year-old Mitchell Johnson and his 11-year-old cousin Andrew Golden hid in the woods outside Westside Middle School and fatally shot four girls and a teacher while wounding 10 other students as they filed out of the building during a false fire alarm.

Source: Denise M. Bonilla, (2000) School Violence. The H.W. Wilson Company, N.Y.

With school violence on the rise, experts say middle schools must provide alternatives to help children. If teens have nothing to do, they will find ways to get into trouble. Children need role models. They need to see the adults in their lives taking action against violence.

This unit uses the book Demonic Males: Apes and the Origin of Human Violence as a means of discussing similarities and differences of violence in both chimpanzees and human beings. It is through this that we can hopefully get a better understanding of the problem of violence in today’s world and devise goals and strategies that will prevent it.

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Male-Male Violence

Chimpanzees fight each other to become alpha males. In chimps this competition for status starts happening at adolescence. Male chimpanzees wait until an opportune moment to become aggressive with each other. Aggression among males within a chimpanzee community happens most obviously at ‘election time’, when the old hierarchy is being challenged. This happens when a young, low-ranking male whose physical and political power is growing develops a disrespectful attitude toward established authority, typically expressed as a refusal to grovel before a higher-ranking senior. This type of attitude can bring violence to a whole community if the alpha male feels threatened.2

Male chimpanzees compete aggressively for dominance. If a lower-ranking male refuses to recognize a superior one, the superior one will become angry. Male chimpanzees organize their whole life around issues of rank. Their attempts to achieve and maintain alpha status are cunning, persistent, energetic, and time-consuming. These kinds of behaviors do not come from a drive to be violent, but from a set of emotions, that in humans, would be called having pride or being arrogant.

Male chimpanzees behave as if they are driven to reach the top of the community pile. However, once they are accepted as alpha males, their tendency for violence falls dramatically. 3 They suppress fights among lower ranking males.

Chimpanzee males and females form alliances to help them in gaining and keeping high rank. Male chimpanzees tend to groom all their followers. Once males have reached the top, they become benign leaders.4

Humans consider themselves as the superior primates. In human groups, pride serves as a stimulus for much interpersonal aggression. Males who have achieved high status turn their social success into extra reproduction. This becomes a part of sexual competition, which can cause conflict.

During the middle school years, humans often gather into large clusters. The group emphasizes loyalty and activities that members participate in together. As with the older boys, peer groups of this age are very interested in competition between members, achievements of peers, and their groups tend to have formal and rigid rules with some clearly dominating members. Emotional intimacy is not usually present or, if present is not emphasized. Boys’ peer groups tend to emphasize feelings of inclusion and very supportive of each other. The group engages in many activities such as sports, in which the members corporate with each other, rather than compete (their team competes with another team).5

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Male-Female Violence

Among chimpanzees every adult male is dominant to every adult female, and he enjoys his dominance. The female chimpanzee moves out of the male chimp’s way and acknowledges him with the appropriate gesture or risks punishment. For a lack of acknowledgement, a female chimp may be chased up a tree. If she is on the ground, she might be pulled, kicked, hit, and dragged. This is just to remind her that she has to respect the males the next time.

Male violence and male dominance over females have long been a part of our history and is also seen among chimpanzees. Chimpanzees fight each other to become alpha males, because alpha males have access to female at their most fertile time. Females advertise their estrous period with genital swelling, seeing this; males congregate and compete intensely for copulation at that time. 6

When a female chimpanzee has her monthly sexual swelling, she is subject to being herded and attacked by males. She has to dodge the noisy, dangerous fights of males challenging each other. She looks emotionally stressed, spends little time eating and suffers many wounds. She is vulnerable to male power, and pays a high price for advertising her fertility. 7 But through the fighting, her children will probably be fathered by the dominant males thus inheriting good genes.

Male violence and male abuse of power are undeniable facts of our lives. Their effects are felt by women and children worldwide. However, in human group affairs, males who dominate females and this often manifests itself as violence against females, traditionally has been resolved in favor of men. This happens because males are able to control power so effectively over females. . Male battering of women is one of the most devastating forms of violence, but not the only form. Most experts agree that a battered woman is one whose life is thoroughly, extensively, and completely controlled by a man and her behavior is changed to suit a man’s desires while they have a relationship with each other.

More devastating than battering is rape. For example, rape involves the total violation of a woman’s body, mind and spirit, when we listen to women and take them seriously, the effects of rape is demoralizing. However, battering is more common than rape and is accepted as normal in many societies. Battering, rape and other forms of violence are debilitating long after the act itself. Moreover, what is almost as horrifying as battering and rape is how common it is in our culture. One in 2.5 women is a victim of sexual assault in her lifetime. One in three females is sexually abused before age eighteen.

In the past few years, there has been an increased awareness of the violent acts that have been committed against women and are still taking place today. Men batter women because, in the short term, it works; i.e., the violence temporarily stops a woman from doing what threatens or challenges men’s authority. Men batter women because they can get away with it. Until recently, men could batter women without experiencing consequences, such as her leaving or their arrest, prosecution, conviction and sentencing. Most men know that no matter who starts the fight, they can generally overpower a woman. And finally, men have been socialized to believe they have the right and the privilege to dominate and control women. Physical force (battering and rape) are the extremes to which men resort, if necessary to maintain that control. When it is said men batter because they can get away with it and it “works,” this is describing some of the workings of patriarchy, a system of male control over women, and a system of male privilege.

To talk about male privilege, it means talking about ones self from the perspective of the other. Male privilege is a reality for the male in terms of it is just the way things are. Boys in particular may feel a socio-cultural pressure to act tough and not express their feelings in a calm way. Men often don’t even realize that they are acting in an unjust or damaging way. Males often take their dominance for granted and their use of violence as natural.

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Female Defense vs. Male in Bonobos

Bonobos, who are chimps and a relative to humans, seem to be gentler and less violence than chimpanzees and humans. For example, female’s cooperation is a major part of bonobos daily lives. They use coalitions to achieve their goals. When female enter adolescence, they leave their family, migrate to a new community, and settle there. Bonobos bond from experience, not from kinship. In addition, in bonobos party stability produces female power. For instance, in order for females to develop supportive relationships, they need to spend time together bonding. In intercommunity aggression, large party size protects individuals from lethal raiding. When ecological pressures kept females from forming effective alliances, they became vulnerable to males interested in guarding them. Pairs of females may be jointly aggressive toward individuals. However, most females spend their time alone.

There is an increase in violence among females according to experts. Female involvement in violence tends to respond to and be associated with the same conditions and circumstances as males. However, different from males, females tend to join gangs to be with their boyfriends who are in gangs. Not only do females join gangs to be with their boyfriends, but they join female gangs as well. In any case, patterns of violence among girls are no different then they are for males. They fight in the streets and schools and commit burglaries and other crimes. Female attitudes about crime and violence tend to be just as casual and absent of remorse as violent male teens.

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Female-Female Violence

In human groups, there are no complete working examples of what female power could mean for a society. 8 In human groups, women have influence over their husbands, sons and other males to have a stronger power than once thought. Females develop supportive social networks with each other. However, they get caught in a trap. If they support each other too much, they are subject to losing what they want, such as investment and protection, of the most desirable males. There is competition among women for the best males, which breaks down compacts between females. Females’ interested in protecting themselves from abusive relationships find difficulty, because they do not leave violent situations.

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Group to Group Violence

In group- to- group violence, chimpanzees are patriarchal. Their rules are community based with a long line of father-son relationships. Males are the inheritors of territory. Males conduct the raids and the killing. Males are dominant and gain the spoils.

For chimpanzees, loss territory means death for adult males. Territorial gains mean a larger foraging area. Supporting of females remains in the same area of forest as before the boundaries changed, only now have a different set of defenders. So males of an expanded community could gain females.9

A chimpanzee community is an “in-group”. All other communities are out-groups and are reacted to violently. Humans also seem to have an “instinct” to identify in-groups and out-groups. We use race, religion, nationality, language, etc. to sort people into “US and Them.” Even affinity for different sports teams can be used to establish Us vs. Them. Once the in-groups and out-groups are established, competition, hostility and violence often follow.

This loyalty has evolved as a part of the winners’ strategy. Darwin stated “ A tribe including many members who, from processing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to aid another, and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes and this would be natural selection.” 10 This quote demonstrates that the concept of moral behavior, the “in-group” half of in-group-out-group bias, has roots in evolutionary history. However, there is another side of the story. Morality based on intra-group loyalty worked, in evolutionary history, because it made groups more effectively aggressive. This type of violence contributes to later community crime.

Chimpanzees travel in party gangs. The more food available, the bigger the party gang can be. Males coalesce in parties to defend their territory. 11 If high-quality foods are scarce, their friends or allies cannot forage together regularly without some or all of them starving.

In chimps, dominant males restrain the violence of subordinates. In poor human communities, male authority figures are often absent. As a result, the adolescent violence can get out of control. Human adolescent gangs seem similar to chimpanzee gangs.Male preadolescent friendship groups tend to display emphasis on competition, loyalty, and rigid status hierarchy. They de-emphasize emotional intimacy and emphasize shared activities instead. Rules are clearly laid out and rigidly enforced. However, gangs are not always social networks. For example, some gangs of teenagers, especially boys are formed to commit crimes (i.e. cocaine distribution network).

In humans, gang activity is a threat to schools and the community. The increasingly violent behavior of gangs of children is of great concern. Gangs are usually male, but some are females. They may belong to one race or be interracial, and come together for the purpose of behaving violently. Gang members advertise themselves through distinctive dress, behaviors, or the guarding of territory.

Some teenage gangs might get together to share activities, socialize, or live close together. Others may get together for a sense of family. Their sense of family helps them to boost their status and raise their self-esteem. This is important because they believe that as individuals they are worthless and powerless. In addition some gang members make money for financial gains, but most do not get rich.12

Although the mass media popularly depicts gang violence as occurring primarily in the streets, school often becomes the focus of gangs. Gangs increase violence in schools, even among students who do not belong to their groups. Non gang members often carry weapons to school because they fear being targeted by groups or becoming involved in a fight with a gang member.13

The problem of gang violence in schools is complicated by the fact that other students may not want to tell on their peers and school personnel see gang activity as a stage all children go through. Many middle schools have admitted that they are struggling with gang violence and have begun programs to help with the problem.

In summary, chimpanzees, bonobos and humans are closely related species. With both humans and chimps, male members engage in acts of raiding and murder. They are territorial and dominant over females. But with bonobos, the females are more cohesive and develop strong bonds to protect themselves against male aggression. They have more control over their own sexuality. Furthermore, they use sex as a means of controlling males.14 Bonobos females are co-dominant with males. They form coalitions to do away with any attempts males make to dominate them.

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Chart 1: Summary of Patterns of Violent Behaviors in Chimpanzees

(chart available in print form)

Chart 1, summarizes the patterns of violent behaviors in chimpanzees of four groups: Male-to-male, Male -to- Female, Female-to-female and Group- to-group. This chart represents information gained after reading the book “Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence”, Wrangham.

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Chart 2: Summary of Patterns of Violent Behaviors in Humans

(chart available in print form)

Chart 2, summarizes the patterns of violent behaviors in humans of four groups: Male-to-male, Male -to- Female, Female-to-female and Group- to-group. This chart represents information gained after reading the book “Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence”, Wrangham.

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Chart 3: Summary of Patterns of Violent Behaviors in Bonobos

(chart available in print form)

Chart 3, summarizes the patterns of violent behaviors in bonobos of four groups: Male-to-male, Male -to- Female, Female-to-female and Group- to-group. This chart represents information gained after reading the book “Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence”, Wrangham.

In closing, comparing chimpanzees, humans and bonobos, we begin to understand how violent behaviors have traveled throughout our evolutionary history. We are who we are, partly because of our biology. However, cultural influences help shape our attitudes toward each other. Humans are highly socialized, therefore, we have the capacity to change our ways of dealing with each other. Moreover, this will take the collaboration of males, females, and other groups working together to achieve this goal.

The final section of this unit proposes and discusses solutions to conflicts and violence in society. This section offers several strategies of dealing with violence, as it relates to middle school students. Several lesson plans are given to engage students in their journey to a more peaceful society.

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Solutions to Conflict and Violence

Male-male violence, male-female violence, female-female violence, and group to group Violence are major issues in society today. The roots of violence are too deeply entwined in the American culture and mind to be solved alone. These complex problems require schools, parents, and communities working together to make school safe. It is the responsibilities of parents, schools and communities to address such life-threatening issues. Since schools are our society’s primary source of socializing children, then it is the place where plans and comprehensive strategies can be made to deal with some of the complexities of violence. However, this does not mean that children must wait to enter schools before they practice socially appropriate behavior. Parents and community members can play a major role in influencing children’s behavior concerning violence by establishing guidelines and monitoring their exposure to violence in the family, community and media.

Students should become actively engaged in activities that help them deal with their anger. They need ways to work out their own solution to problems. In addition to a school plan, experts say, each individual in the school has to be part of the solution on a personal level. For example, peer mediation by trained mediators is needed to help resolve conflict. By using peer mediators both sides in a dispute hear each other out and work toward a solution that both can accept. Teaching conflict resolution, which include teaching staff and student’ rules, expectations give them the skills needed to handle their anger. Peer-mediation experts say it can help students to work out problems before they have the opportunity to grow into violent incidents.

School personnel can not allow bullying to go on at school. On a personal level, students must know that they can be tough by backing down. Sometimes the smartest thing to do is to walk away from a confrontation. It takes more guts- and much more energy to remain calm than to give in to anger and fight. Students should understand that their response is an ancient instinctive urge that they do not have to obey.

Police says most youth homicides result from someone not backing down from a fight. Students must understand ways of dealing with confrontations. There are times to use reason or humor, and times to assert yourself when you are angry. Students must learn to have appropriate range of reactions to deal with violent behavior.

Listening and using active listening skills and repeating aloud the other person’s viewpoints to make sure the problem is understood are smart. Also, students must pay attention to each other’s body language. Sometimes, just looking at a person may make them feel threaten, angry and cause a major fight. It is important to learn to be assertive when it is safe and appropriate. At other times, it is important to use responses like, do not do that, or stop it, while walking away. Anger and combativeness only escalate conflict.

It is important to teach students to get tough on themselves and become firm about being responsible for their own behavior. Taking deep breaths and counting when you feel angry helps to calm you down. Students should keep themselves calm during confrontations and avoid bad situations. It is important to have supportive groups, to walk away, or to take another way home to avoid confrontation with someone who is angry with you. 15

In summary, the problem of violence in our society causes great concern for all of us. However, there are no simple solutions to the problem of violence. The roots of violence are many and require comprehensive strategies. Parents, schools and community can implement effective programs to combat violence.

The following Pre-Test will be given to student before lessons are given and will be given as a Post-Test after lessons are completed. The results can be used to determine the effectiveness of the lessons on students’ attitudes and behaviors.

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Pre-Test: Student Survey on Middle School Violence

Name____________Grade_______ Age_______ Location of school_________

Use the following scale for the following questions:

1: None, 2: Low, 3: Average, 4: High, 5: Very high

1._______ How do you rate the overall violence in your middle school?
2._______ How do you rate the overall violence in your community?
3._______ How do you rate the overall violence in your home?
4.Rate the following concerning how you feel these subjects lead to school violence.

______ Parental negligence (abuse, neglect, divorce, conflicting relationships, etc.)
______ Peer pressure (treatment, fashion, reputations, etc.)
______Entertainment (TV, Movies and Newsletters, etc.)
______Treatment of students to each other
5.How do teachers tend to treat violence in your school?
A.______Don’t need to worry about it because it rarely happens
B.______Feels as though students have everything under control
C. _____Often ignore or cover it up
6.Have you committed any acts of violence, small or serious____Yes____No
7.Have any of your friends or relatives been victims of school violence? ___Yes___No
8.________To what extend do you solve your problems using violence?
9.________To what extend are you exposed to violence on a daily basis?
10. ________To what extend do you practice being non-violent?

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Lesson Plan I: Initial Discussion of Violence by Students

Teaching students how to develop skills in solving problem problems or situations related to violence is crucial. Students need to know that their behavior patterns are linked to their evolutionary past. In addition, they need to know that behavior patterns are linked to their DNA information.

Strategy: Start by asking students what behavior patterns they see in the following relationships?

1. Male to male

2. Male to females

3. Females to females

4. Group to group

Make a list of their responses and share with them what experts say about each relationship. Then compare these same relationships between chimpanzees, humans and bonobos. Use charts 1, 2, and 3 to help explain the similarities and differences.

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Lesson Plan 2: Male to Male Violence:

Objective: Students will use identified behaviors in male to male relationships to develop awareness of their own behaviors.

Strategy: Two male students will role play the following scenario. Ask other students in the class to think critically and analyze this scenario. Questions are given to guide the whole group discussion.

Scenario: Peter and John are friends. Peter likes to bully John when they are with their other friends. He does this because it makes him feel important. John allows this to happen and says absolutely nothing to Peter about this because he is afraid of him. Students in the school call John names--gay, sissy, etc.

Discuss the above scenario. Use the questions below to guide the discussion.

1. What are the characteristics of an alpha? Peter an alpha male?

2. Do you think that males are born to be violent, if so why?

3. What happens to males who consistently refuse to be violent?

4. Do you think that it is okay to be called names like gay, sissy, etc?

5. What solution(s) do you suggest to Peter?

The goal is to engage students in the learning process. By role playing several violent behaviors, students develop their own strategies for problem-solving. Some of these solutions can be used daily to prevent violence in the classroom and overall school.

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Lesson 3: Male-Female Violence:

Objective: Students will identify violent patterns of behaviors among females.

Strategy: Role Play the following scenario: Jim asked Sue to the Prom. She hesitated before saying yes, because she remembered the last date they had together. Jim was very upset with her because she wanted to talk to other friends. He wanted all of her attention. He threatened to hit her the next time she repeated her behavior.


Jim behavior toward Sue:

1. Do you feel that she should go out with him?

2. What pattern (s) of behavior is Jim displaying toward Sue?

3. How would you deal with this situation?

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Lesson Plan 4: Scenario-Female-Female Violence

Objective: To have females act out their reactions to each other in a violent situation?

Judy and Mary are also friends. They are always helping each other with their assignments. Very rarely will you see one without the other. One day, a new female student enters the class and made friends with Mary, but not Judy. Judy is feeling left out and angry. She started to put Mary down by saying that she is stupid. This made Mary upset. Mary and Judy were no longer friends. They argued constantly and wanted to fight.

Strategy: Here are several questions to guide the discussion.

1. How would you role play the above scenario if you were Judy, then if you were Mary?

2. Were you tempted to be violent? If not, what would you do in the above situation?

3. Is it okay to be violent to others?

4. Do you feel like a coward or a hero?

5. Which situation do you support violence or non-violence?

After the discussion have students get into small groups of fours. Then have write out a scenario using violent behavior.

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Lesson Plan 5: Group to Group Violence:

There are two gangs at Waver Middle School. One gang lives on the Westside of town and make up the Westside group. The other gang lives on the Eastside of town and make up the Eastside group. In school, students call the Westside gang the in-group and treat them with respect. The Eastside gang is called the out-group because they are less respected by students.

Strategy: Read the above scenario. Identify the patterns of behaviors of the Westside gang (in-group). Then identify the patterns of behaviors of the Eastside gang (out-group), and use this information to answer the following questions about in-groups and out-groups.


1. What do you think about each group?

2. What are the advantages of belonging to either group?

3. What are the disadvantages?

4. Are there any differences between the males and female members?

If so, what are their similarities? What are their differences?

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Lesson Plan 6: Recognizing Stereotypes

Objective: To recognize gender stereotypes

Materials: Divide students into groups of two. Each student will interview his or her partner. Instruct them to ask the following questions:

1. What is your name?

2. What is your favorite activity? Describe it.

Part One:

Ask each pair of students to come forward and introduce one another to the class. As the students present, keep a record of the favorite activities for girls and for boys. When the interviews are complete, transfer these two lists to the board in separate columns, but do not add heading yet.

Part Two:

Ask the students if they can see any differences between the activities in two lists. If so, discuss them. Then tell them that one list shows the boys’ favorite activities and one list shows the girls’ favorite activities. Ask the class to discuss why they think the lists are not the same. Ask the class to identify the activities in each column that are usually boys’ activities or are usually girl activities.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why do boys and girls sometimes do different activities?

2. Where do we learn that boys and girls should do different activities?

Is it okay for boys to do activities that are considered to be mainly for girls? Why/why not? Give specific reasons.
Is it okay for girls to do activities that are considered to be mainly for boys? Why/why not? Give specific reasons.
Have any of you decided to avoid a certain activity (chore, sport, subject area) because of your gender?
What is gender bias? (Help the students define it.) Link the gender related interest in activities to gender bias.
5. Why is it important and useful to try new activities, to expand what you do?

Closure: To wrap up the discussion, students will be asked to name one activity they don’t currently do, but would have probably tried and enjoyed if they had been born the opposite gender. Is it an activity they would like to try now? Encourage them to do so!

Source: http://icdweb.cc.purdue.edu/-baumeral/lesson4.html

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Lesson Plan 6: Solutions to Violent Behaviors:

Objective: Students will write a paper or do a project on one of the following: How do we prevent violence in our society? Use one of the relationships below to explain your position. Each student must do this project with one or more parent(s).After all, it takes all of us to prevent violence in our society.

1. Male - male behaviors

2. Male - female behaviors

3. Female-female behaviors

4. Group-group behavior

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PostTest: Student Survey on Middle School Violence

Name___________Grade_____ Age_______ Location of school_________

Use the following scale for the following questions:

1: None, 2: Low, 3: Average, 4: High, 5: Very high

1._______ How do you rate the overall violence in your middle school?
2._______ How do you rate the overall violence in your community?
3._______ How do you rate the overall violence in your home?

4.Rate the following concerning how you feel these subjects lead to school violence.

______ Parental negligence (abuse, neglect, divorce, conflicting relationships, etc.)
______ Peer pressure (treatment, fashion, reputations, etc.)
______Entertainment (TV, Movies and Newsletters, etc.)
______Treatment of students to each other

5.How do teachers tend to treat violence in your school?

A.______Don’t need to worry about it because it rarely happens
B.______Feels as though students have everything under control
C. _____Often ignore or cover it up
6.Have you committed any acts of violence, small or serious____Yes____No
7.Have any of your friends or relatives been victims of school violence? ___Yes___No

8.________To what extend do you solve your problems using violence?
9.________To what extend are you exposed to violence on a daily basis?
10. ________To what extend do you practice being non-violent?

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Student Reading List

Voices from the Streets: Young Former Gang Members Tell Their Stories. S. Beth Atkin / Little Brown & Co (Juv. Trd) / October 1996.

John William Yee. (July 1997). The Bully Buster Book (Streetproofing for Kids Series, Vol. 1.

Vic Cox (July, 1997). Guns, Violence & Tenns (Issues in Focus Series. Enslow Publishers, Inc.

Victoria Sherrow (April, 1999). Violence and the Media: The Question of Cause and Effect (Issue and Debate) Millbrook Pr

Nancy Day. (May, 1996). Violence in Schools: Learning in Fear. Enslow Publishers, Inc.

Joann Brenn Guernsey (October, 1996). Youth Violence: An American Epidemic (Frontline) Lerner Publications Company.

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Teacher Reading List

Children’s Defense Fund. 1994. The State of America’s Children Yearbook 1994. Washington, D.C.

Christoffel, K. 1994. Editorial: Reducing Violence How Do We Proceed? American Journal of Public Health 84 (4): 539-541.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. 1994.

Krantzler, N. J. & Miner, K. 1996. Violence: Health Facts. Calif. ETR Associates

Taffel, Ronald. Nurturing Good Children Now. New York, N.Y.: Golden Books. Book jacket quote, 1999.


Flannery, Daniel J. (1997). School violence: Risk, Preventive Intervention, and Policy. New York, NY: ERIC. Clearinghouse on Urban Education. LB3013.3.F521997. The author examines school violence and searches for ways to eliminate it. His ultimate goal is to help schools be safe heavens for children to learn the skills they need to become successful adults.

Hoffman, Allan M. (Ed.) (1996). Schools, violence and society. Westport, CT: Praeger. LB 3013.3.5377 1996 Coverage includes past trends in school violence and describes the current problems, as well as aspects of its causes and prevention. The influence of gang activity and weapons on students and community is also discussed.

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Teacher Resources


Violence in American Schools: A New Perspective In this volume, experts review the latest research on the causes of youth violence in the Nation’s schools and on school-based interventions that have prevented or reduced it. They describe and evaluate strategies for preventing and treating violence that go beyond punishment and incarceration. The volume offers a new strategy for tackling youth violence, arguing that the most effective interventions use a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach and take into account differences in stages of individual development and involvement in overlapping social contexts. Editor: Elliott, D.; Hamburg, B.; and Williams, K. Year: 1998. Format: Paperback book. Length: 400 pages. Topic: Understanding and preventing violence in schools. Target Audience: Educators, school officials, public policy makers, general audience. Availability: Bookstores or Cambridge University Press, 40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011-4211; 212-924-3900;http://www.cup.org. Cost: $19.95

School Violence Intervention: A Practical Handbook This book provides effective intervention strategies for managing school violence. Opening with perspectives on student aggression from different school practitioners, this resource presents practical interventions at the student, school, and system levels. Strategies are presented for a wide array of situations and contexts, enabling the work to be applied to almost any school setting. Author: Goldstein, A.; and Conley, J. Year: 1997 Format: Book Length: 495 pages and index Topic: Preventing violence in schools Target Audience: Teachers, school administrators, parents Availability: Bookstores or contact Guilford Publications, 72 Spring Street, New York, NY 10012; 800-365-7006;http://www.guilford.com Cost: $55

Antisocial Behavior at School: Strategies and Best Practices This indispensable resource describes the “best practices” for coping with antisocial behavior patterns among children and youth in school. Designed to enhance educators’ understanding of the nature, origins, and causes of antisocial behavior, this book offers interventions and model programs that can be used in preventing or re-mediating this growing problem in the schools. Author: Colvin, G; Ramsey, E.; and Ramsey-Walker, H. Year: 1995 Format: Book Length: 420 pages Topic: Unacceptable student behavior in schools Target Audience: Teachers, school administrators, parents Availability: Bookstores or contact Brooks/Cole Publishing, 511 Forest Lodge Road, Pacific Grove, CA 93950; 800-354-9706; Cost: $61

Annual Report on School Safety The Annual Report on School Safety provides parents, schools, and the community with an overview of school crime, and describes actions schools and communities can take to address this critical issue. Steps for developing and implementing a comprehensive school safety plan are described. The report profiles programs that include school security, education in violence prevention, counseling, and special student services. Year: 1998 Format: Report Length: 48 pages Topic: School safety

NEA Action Sheet: Safe Schools In this publication, the National Education Association discusses the causes of and ways to prevent school violence. Year: 1998 Format: Action sheet Length: 4 pages Topic: School violence Target Audience: School officials Availability: National Education Association, 1201 16th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20036; 202-833-4000; ttp://www.nea.org Cost: Free

Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools This guide contains early warning signs that can help adults identify and reach out to troubled children quickly and effectively to reduce the likelihood of school violence. The guide is issued jointly by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice. It is also available in Spanish. Organization: U.S. Department of Education Year: 1998 Format: Report Length: 40 pages Topic: Warning signs of troubled children Target Audience: Parents, teachers, school administrators, other concerned adults Availability: U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Washington, DC, 20202; 800-USALEARN; http://www.ed.gov Cost: Free

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Ascher, C. (1994). Gaining Control of Violence in the Schools: A View from the Field. New York: Teachers College, Eric Clearinghouse on Urban Education and Washington, D.C.: National Education Association. (Eric Abstract)

Bonilla, D.M. (2000). School Violence. N.Y. The H.W. Wilson Company.

Goodall, J. (1986). The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior. Cambridge, MA. U.S.A. Harvard University Press,

Hoffman, A.M. (ED.) (1996). Schools,Violence, and Society. Westport, CT. Praeger.

Schwartz,W. (1994). Anti-bias and Conflict Resolution Curricula: Theory and Practice. New York: Teachers College, Eric Clearinghouse on Urban Education.

Sherman, M. (Fall, 1997). Current Health. Weekly Reader Corporation.

Wrangham, R. (1996) Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence. Houghton, Mifflin.

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1 Wrangham, R. and Peterson, D. DEMONIC MALES, Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (1996). Houghton Mifflin

2 Ibid., Pp 186-.187.

3 Ibid., P. 191.

4 Ibid., Pp. 191

5 Ibid., Pp. 69, 108

6 Ibid., P. 213.

7 Ibid., P. 214.

8 Ibid., P. 238.

9 Ibid., P.166.

10 Ibid., Pp. 196-197.

11 Ibid., P. 167

12 Ibid., Pp. 106-107

13 Ibid. , P. 108

14 Ibid., P. 69

15 Sherman, M. (fall, 1997). Current Health. Weekly Reader Corporation.

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