Monday, March 19, 2012

If School Violence Is Decreasing Why Do We Think Otherwise?

If I were to ask if school violence was increasing or decreasing what would your answer be? The answer to that question probably would depend on the proximity to any recent high profile incident on a school campus. NPR had this interesting piece about school violence recently.
Dewey Cornell, a clinical psychologist and education professor at the University of Virginia, says incidents like the one in Chardon, Ohio, and the infamous mass shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado and at Virginia Tech have reinforced a perception that schools can be dangerous places.
"But that's just not true," says Cornell, who has been examining school violence for decades. "I know on the heels of any school shooting, there's the perception that violence is on the rise. It's not. In fact, there's been a very steady downward trend for the past 15 years."
The piece is an interesting read and the persons quoted in the story place the blame for the public's misperception of the level of violence in schools squarely on the shoulders of the 24 hour news cycle.

So next time you get apprehensive after watching or reading a story about an "epidemic" of school violence, remember, it's probably not as bad as you think.

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