The Influence of a Deprived Environment in Violence and Bullying in a High School

Aróstegui, José Luis; Arráez, Juan Miguel
November 2005
International Journal of Learning;2005/2006, Vol. 12 Issue 7, p151
Academic Journal
Bullying and school violence are worldwide problems which have negative consequences on the school's atmosphere in general and, more specifically, on the students' learning process. Bullying can also have negative lifelong consequences, both for bully students and for their victims. Bullying-related problems have been taken into consideration and further on discussed in environments where a formal schooling exists. A first research approach for this issue has been based on defining, making visible and quantifying those types of behaviour regarded as ‘conflict-generating.’ These empirical studies have most of all employed descriptive tools such as questionnaires or systematic observations, as well as cause-effect experimental enquiries. There have also been bullying-prevention programs to give students some training on emotions and values. These programs have been based on ‘school-conflict’ theories. More recently there have been some research works made from cultural studies focusing on which elements of a cultural model promote or diminish harassment. Our objective was to acknowledge the cultural patterns emerging out of school conflicts. We tried to find out the meaning and consequences of such cultural patterns for the construction of personal identities in school contexts. The aim of recognizing the affective and cognitive representations of these cultural elements for school participants was also pursued. We pursued to identify the different speeches that students, teachers, parents and staff members did show as to what types of behaviour would in their opinion be considered as bullying, and which would be the bases of conflict and/or violence at Secondary School centres in Spain. There seems to be an increasing concern for bullying and school violence due to the significant rise in the number of cases of violence, more specifically in Secondary Education centres. In the case of Spain, no educational responses at large have been offered to tackle these problems so far. The changes experienced in the social, economic, cultural, and familial environments have had an impact on school settings. To the extent that it could be argued that violence—be it subtle or explicit—has somehow come to be another characteristic of our everyday life. Research would be most needed to produce the necessary knowledge in order to tackle this problem. With this paper our intention is to contribute to this production by a case-study research method. Our focus was on the instructional context from an interpretative point of view. On the one hand, attention was paid to the different groups involved in the general school context, mainly teachers and students, also parents, curriculum contents and stakeholders. On the other, language and social constructs were targeted in order to help us understand the conditions in which interactions among participants were produced. We found qualitative research to be the most appropriate way to follow our purposes. Six case studies were carried out in different Secondary-Education schools across Spain, mainly centres located in economically-deprived areas. In this paper we will report on the situation in one of them. We made sure to cover both formal and informal contexts, in which violence and bullying might be present in one way or another: classrooms, breaks, teachers' meetings, official meetings, et cetera. When drafting the report, we tried to give an explanation for the different perspectives and to offer suggestions in a non-intrusive way.…


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