Violence in Schools: Some Psychological and Legal Issues Concerning School Safety and Security

Douglas G. McKenzie, Grand Valley State University

In recent years there have been a number of school violence incidents that have gained national attention. These episodes of school violence have shocked parents, educators, and fellow students across the nation. While the actual number of school shootings has not been great when data on school violence are viewed over time, the terrible incidents, coupled with the horrific terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, have raised a number of issues concerning schools and violence, including the identification of violent behavior, safety and security in schools and the related legal issues raised by such concerns. This paper reviews research examining various psychological and behavioral factors that are correlated with school violence. Policies implemented by schools in response to those concerns are also addressed. The heightened awareness of the violence potential in schools has also raised legal issues concerning due process and search and seizure. Lastly, directions for future research in school violence and related legal issues are suggested.

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Updated 05/20/2006