School violence has always been an important social issue world-wide because it poses a significant threat to the health, achievement, and well-being of students.
In recent times and with 24-hour media (and with flawed social media avalanches of information, including a lot that is incorrect, as shown in dangerous finger-pointing at a student in the recent Boston bombings, whose dead body was recently recovered) the most highly-publicized incidents involve serious physical violence, but less serious forms of physical aggression and psychological violence (harassment, bullying, etc.) have always been far more prevalent.
During the last twenty years there have been numerous papers trying to identify risk factors of school violence. The concept of 'school climate' has received a lot of attention and psychologists believe the social climate in class and in school is assumed to have a significant effect on the prevalence of violence in schools. But, the lack of clear definitions and empirically validated measures of school climate has resulted in a multitude of findings that are often difficult to interpret.
Professor Georges Steffgen and colleagues from the University of Luxembourg's Integrative Research Unit on Social and Individual Development (INSIDE) analyzed the statistical results of a collection of studies to find out if a relevant effect size could be detected between the relationship of school climate and school violence.
Their meta-analysis of 36 independent studies reporting a relationship between school climate and school violence showed a moderate negative relationship between students' perception of school climate and violence. Students' characteristics such as age, and gender, as well as school size and school grade do not influence this relationship.
The results showed that there is a relationship between school climate and violence. The analysis concludes that changes in the school environment could probably reduce the appearance of violent behavior.
Steffgen said, "The research shows that implementing school educational and social functions do play a role, overturning the idea that violent perpetrators are themselves all alone responsible for school violence. Thus, it is recommended that future prevention programmes should consider both individual and environmental factors of school violence. "
Published in Aggression and Violent Behaviour.