School violence: A case study of initiatives to combat violence at Riverside High School

Joseph Augustus Whittington, Fordham University


This dissertation presents a case study of violence in schools. It presents an examination of the types of violence that occurred at Riverside High School in Brooklyn, causes of violence, effects, initiatives that the school applied to combat violence, and the results of those initiatives. The review of literature presents the views of many educationists, psychologists, sociologists, and other professionals. The review also presents a brief history and overview of the problem of violence in schools as well as the theories of violence. From the perspectives of students, teachers, administrators, parents, and members of the community, there are many who believe that violence in American schools has become one of the main concerns in the field of education during recent years. Most educationists, as well as members of the general public, view the problem of violence in schools as not merely a school problem, but as a larger problem of the community that is imported into the school because of various reasons. Most individuals agree that violence has no place in the schools, and that schools ought to formulate contingency plans to deal with student violence should it occur. But very little has been done because within the various studies, reports, and conferences that had been undertaken, not much had been done in the direction of reliably discovering and documenting the causes of violence in the schools. There are a few studies that have shown that there are steps that schools can take to establish and maintain control of violence in schools. At Riverside High School, the first step was the establishment of a Restructuring Committee that was composed of students, teachers, administrators, parents, and members of the community and who desired to work toward charting a new direction for the school. The committee first undertook an indepth and comprehensive evaluation of the programs and events that had been taking place at the school with the view of effecting an overall plan for school discipline and safety. This Restructuring Committee then adjusted a few existing programs and activities, discontinued several, and introduced several new initiatives. Local personnel and other resources from within the school and the community that were formerly underutilized, or were formerly not utilized, were now fully utilized. The students, teachers, administrators, parents, and members of the community who desired positive change collectively worked toward effecting positive changes, and they achieved positive changes. Further, the results of the study at Riverside High School reveal that although a school may be located in a poor urban neighborhood that has been constantly submerged in crime, unemployment, prostitution, and various drug subcultures, and is plagued by violence, there are initiatives that can be successfully applied to combat violence. But such initiatives must be designed to satisfy the needs and maintain the interest of the community that would then become fused with the school, thereby forming the nucleus of sustained positive changes that will continuously maintain their interest while fulfilling their needs, as well as the needs of the school.

Subject Area

School administration|Educational sociology|Educational psychology|Criminology

Recommended Citation

Whittington, Joseph Augustus, "School violence: A case study of initiatives to combat violence at Riverside High School" (1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9923448.