Public schools do not utilize a system to help students define and evaluate acceptable behavior, so students do not have a way to develop and evaluate good and bad behavior. They are made aware when they break rules. Having rules without outlining positive behavioral expectations only reinforces those students that do not follow rules.

Whose job is it to teach children what constitutes good and bad behavior? Do you think the school has a responsibility to teach students morality? Schools take a neutral stance regarding morally charged issues. When a teacher entertains a student’s right to express hurtful messages without challenging these negative views, he or she is indirectly endorsing violence.

Students who had engaged in bullying, physical attacks, and theft would have constituted the majority of the negative behaviors observed in a school setting. This is a factor in the school setting that contributes to the irrational thoughts of the student that are victimized. Have you ever been picked on in school? When students are on the receiving end of these hurtful behaviors, they sometimes go through extensive worry and anxiety; all factors that impacts learning and rational thought processes.

The National Center for Education Statistics presented in 1993 that more elementary school children (29%) worried about being victims at school than senior high school students (20%). The NCES also reported that 73% of students in assigned public schools and 71% in public schools of choice reported having knowledge that either bullying, physical attack, or robbery was occurring in the school compared to 45% of private school students in 1993. 12% of the students in assigned public school versus 7% in private schools stated they have personally experienced crime or threats in their school. 34% of middle or junior high students were being victimized in school as opposed to 20% of high school students. The statistics showed that 12% of middle or junior high students reported being bullied at school, which was twice the rate of high school students. Students entering high school have the lowest rates of bullying behavior (6%), and worry less about being bullied (20%) than elementary and middle school students. 8% of students in high school presented being personally victimized.

In a public school’s system of discipline, personnel carry out punitive measures when students do not follow rules and guideline. Detentions, suspensions, and expulsions are the main disciplinary measures in this system. There are occasions when a student needs to be protected from another student, especially in extremely volatile situations. In these cases, a student may need to be expelled from the school. Students are not taught coping and problem-solving skills in this type of system. The victim’s anger and frustration can accumulate due to his or her irrational views concerning the problem, which increases the threat of violent acts. The punitive measures do not provide a rational means to resolve conflict and hurt.

Thirty percent of students in public schools in sixth through tenth grade report to bully others, to be the target of bullies or to experience both

Eighty percent of students surveyed from 2064 public schools in eighth through eleventh grades reported to be sexually harrassed in school

Twenty-five percent of students claiming to be sexually harrassed state that the harrassment occurs often

A majority of the thirty-seven school shootings analyzed by the US Secret Service classified shooters as victims of "bullying and harrassment"

School interventions such as suspensions, detentions, or expulsions do not address this hurt, nor do these measures provide ways to promote personal accountability and healing.

On October 1, 1997, high school student Luke Woodham opened fire on several students in Pearl High School in Pearl, Mississippi. He killed two of the students and wounded seven. He began his day by slitting his mother's throat before he headed to school in her car with a rifle tucked underneath a trench coat. Luke talked to one of the students he wounded and apologized claiming he was not shooting at anyone in particular. Police Chief Bill Slade said Luke had wrote a detailed note within he said he felt he'd been wronged and that he killed because people like him are mistreated everyday. During his 1998 trial for killing his mother, Luke stated he killed his mother because "She always never loved me." He went on to state that his mother blamed him for her divorce and problems with his brother. He also stated that his mother spent much time away from home. Luke wrote about how he and an accomplice beat his dog, Sparkle, then set it on fire and threw it in a pond. He wrote, "I hit her so hard I knocked the fur off her neck. It was true beauty."

Brendan Smith was 16 years old when she killed 2 people and injured 9 when she decided to shoot a 22-caliber rifle across the street from her house onto the entrance of Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California on January 29, 1979. She discussed how her violence grew out of an abusive home. She claimed that her father beat and sexually abused her for years. She stated, "I had to share my dad’s bed 'til I was 14 years old." She went on to say that her father bought her a gun for Christmas when she asked for a radio. Brendan was the original school rampager.

On September 2, 1996, 14 year old Barry Loukaitis broke into Algebra Class at the Frontier Junior High School in Moses Lake, Washington with a high powered rifle and shot three students and their teacher. Two of the students and his teacher died. Students recalled that Barry shot one of the students in which he was always having a conflict. Barry's mother had presented that one of the songs that Barry listened to drove him to commit the crime. The father presented that the family had three generations worth of depressive illnesses in the family. Barry’s mother told the jury that she treated her son as a "confidant" and told him everything. She went on to say that this included plans to kill herself in front of her ex-husband and his girlfriend on Valentine's Day, 1996. He had been an honor student at school.

Excerpt From I'm Sorry To Demonstrate Relationship Development In Schools

John is a facilitator of an 8-member group at the local high school. His group consists of seniors with an even split of female and male students. The group has members who are athletes, honor students, work study students, quiet students, and students who are considered "different" by the way they dress and the way they express themselves. John has spent the first 2 weeks developing the rules of the group and discussing the need for each group participant to address participants by stating how others are impacting them through "I statements." John presents that participants have the right not to discuss those issues that are personal in nature and talks about the need for boundaries to be established. John reviews the need for the group members to share about those situations that each face in school each day during their interactions with students, teachers, and other school personnel. John also presents that if students have personal issues to disclose that they need to see him after the group and he will discuss how to proceed. John discusses the rules of confidentiality and that students who disclose issues regarding abuse or threats of harm to students or themselves will result in his breaking of this confidentiality. John discusses how this would entail his disclosing this to protective services such as Children & Youth services, the school-based counselor, or the local police. John reviews how tracking sheets will be used as the starting points to each group. John goes over the behavioral expectations and has the group participants review and rehearse each of them. John instructs the group that there will be a review and rehearsal of these expectations that will occur during the initial month as the group learns the rules and the process of the group. John shares that the group will begin by having students summarizing the previous group's themes and discussion points to ensure the review of behavioral expectations and problem solving activities were understood by all group participants. John passes out the tracking forms to each participant and review how the tracking forms will serve as a starting point for the discussion for today’s group. John would then have a group session that may go as follows:

John: Can anyone summarize what the group discussed last session?

Bert(the athlete): We talked to Judy about how her acting stuck-up was disrespectful to others and how she needed to treat people better.

June (honor student): Bert, you know that you are not supposed to personally attack a group member like that! You are supposed to share how Judy's behavior affected you. I know I feel bad when Judy refuses to acknowledge my presence when I see her in the hall and at lunchtime.

Bert: I don't give a crap if she ever says anything to me! She is so weird and out there! I have more than enough friends and do not care about someone like her.

John: Bert, you are pretty angry toward someone who means very little to you. Let Judy know that you are mad and let her know why.

Bert: OK. Judy, I am angry with you because you treat me like I am not around. Everyone else in the school loves me and thinks I am a great guy.

Judy (the different student): How does it feel to have someone not give a shit about you!

Bert: Go to hell, Bitch!!

John: Let's back up here and remember the group rule concerning respect to others and not attacking others personally. Judy, you were making a statement to Bert about having someone not care about him. Could you make this same statement in the form of an "I statement?"

Judy: I feel upset at you Bert because you do not have any clue how someone like me feels. You have friends and are accepted by others while I get made fun of by you and every other student in this school.

Justin (work-study student): Judy, why do you give a shit what other people think? The hell with them all if they will not accept you for who you are!

John: Justin, why don't you tell Judy who she is based upon the definition we have reviewed about respect.

Justin: Judy, you are the most creative girl in the school. I have seen your drawings. You are very talented and would do anything for someone in need.

Bert: Let me see one of your drawings.

Judy: Here is one I drew of you while playing football.

Bert: Wow, you are good at art. Can I have this?

Judy: I guess so.

John: Bert and Judy, you both made some strong statements towards one another. How do you guys see this?

Bert: I was disrespectful to you, Judy. I did not know where you were coming from.

Judy: Me too.

John: What can help you two get to know each other better to help you both gain better respect for one another?

Judy: Bert, we are in the same study hall each day. Do you want to hang out together?

Bert: Only if you can show me more drawings and allow me to show you some of my artwork without laughing.

Judy: That’s a deal!

John: Good work you two. Keep the group posted on how this is going between the two of you. Now I want the group to get out their tracking sheets so we can go over how each of you have shown the qualities of love, respect, and honesty. I want to hear from some of the group members who have not said anything up to this point.

Author's Bio: 

Jay Krunszyinsky has created a system for children, adolescents, and adults to process hurt and develop healthy relationships. Visit his website at Relationship Repair