The shocking and tragic violence that has played out in our
nation's schools in the last 2 years has elevated the status of
school discipline from an issue of perennial concern to one of national
urgency. No longer can small rural districts assume that violence is an
inner-city issue and that they are immune from problems of school
disruption or violence. No longer can we expect special educators
working alone to solve all problems of emotional and behavioral
disorders. Rather, it has become clear that the threat of school
violence cuts across class, geographical location, and the presence or
absence of a disability label.
Faced with disruptive and aggressive behavior, a typical response
has been the punishment and exclusion of students exhibiting challenging
behavior (Skiba & Peterson, 1999). Well-defined disciplinary
requirements and attention to school security have a place in schools in
maintaining order and ensuring safety. Yet harsh and punitive
disciplinary strategies have not proven sufficient to foster a school
climate that can prevent the occurrence of school violence. Rather, a
broader perspective, stressing early identification, comprehensive
planning, prevention, and instruction in important social skills, is
necessary if schools are to prevent the tragedies that happen too often
in our schools. This article explores new perspectives in school
discipline and violence prevention, and suggests effective strategies
for dealing with disruptive and violent behavior in schools.
CURRENT PRACTICE IN SCHOOL DISCIPLINE
The key importance of school discipline in preventing school
violence has been highlighted by data demonstrating the relationship
between day-to-day school disciplinary disruptions and more serious
violence. In the recent National Center for Educational Statistics
report, Violence and Discipline Problems in U.S. Public Schools: 1996-97
(Heaviside, Rowand, Williams, & Farris, 1998), a dear relationship
emerged between low-level school disruption and serious school violence.
Among schools reporting at least one serious discipline issue, 28% also
reported at least one crime; in contrast, only 3% of schools with minor
or no reported discipline problems reported the presence of crime. These
less dramatic, but more frequent school and classroom disruptions, may
also play a part in shaping perceptions about the safety of schools. In
an examination of violence in rural school districts, Peterson, Beekley,
Speaker, and Pietrzak (1996) reported that 52% of teachers and
administrators in rural schools believed that violence was increasing at
the middle/high school level. But the behaviors they perceived as
escalating most dramatically were not the types of deadly violence that
appear to concern us most--drugs, gang involvement, or
weapons-carrying--but rather behaviors that indicate incivility, such as
rumors, verbal intimidation and threats, pushing and shoving by
students, and sexual harassment. Perhaps perceptions of school safety
are shaped as much by serious violent episodes as by overall perceptions
of school climate.
If there is a reliable relationship between the frequent less
serious disruption and serious violent crime, efforts to improve the
overall school disciplinary climate may well make an important
contribution to the prevention of school violence. By implementing
comprehensive programs that improve overall school climate and reduce
minor disruption, schools may also be reducing the risk of more serious
violent incidents that appear to be associated with higher levels of
minor disruption. Such data support the argument that the problem of
violence in our schools is related to a breakdown in civility. More
importantly, they reaffirm the value in studying school discipline and
in particular preventive alternatives to current practice. Indeed,
recent findings suggest that current school practice in discipline does
not appear to be effective in addressing problems of disruption and
violence in schools.
Gap Between Research and Practice
The gap between research and practice has been a continuing issue
in the professional literature (Gersten, Vaughn, Deshler, &
Schiller, 1997). That gap appears to be especially acute in the areas of
school discipline and behavior, leaving schools with insufficient
resources to cope with current serious problems of disruption and
Research in the fields of applied behavior analysis (Horner &
Carr, 1997), teacher effectiveness (Emmer, 1994; Rosenshine, 1986), and
special education (C. Nelson & Rutherford, 1987; J. Nelson, 1996)
has yielded effective strategies of individual programming, classroom
management, and instruction to improve the behavioral climate for
students with and without disabilities. Yet there is abundant evidence
that such strategies are significantly underutilized in the public
schools. The efficacy of positive consequences for managing student
behavior, for example, has been widely demonstrated (Gottfredson,
Gottfredson, & Hybl, 1993; C. Nelson & Rutherford, 1987); the
failure to balance positive and negative consequences may indeed yield a
coercive cycle that increases the likelihood of disruptive behavior
(Shores, Gunter, & Jack, 1993). Yet negative consequences appear to
outpace the use of positive reinforcers both in general education
(Gable, Hendrickson, Young, Shores, & Stowitschek, 1983; Heller
& White, 1975; Shores et al., 1993) and special education (Knitzer,
Steinberg, & Fleisch, 1990). Some have suggested that the
underutilization of effective behavioral strategies is due to school
resistance (Axelrod, Moyer, & Berry, 1990), while others (Fantuzzo
& Atkins, 1992) have placed the blame on ineffective models of
research and dissemination. Regardless of the reason, what is apparent
is that the most effective behavioral strategies are not
well-implemented in school discipline in general education (Skiba,
Peterson, & Williams, 1997).
This underuse of effective behavioral strategies may be due in part
to inadequate teacher training. Effective behavior management and
behavior support have been consistently rated as among the most
important teaching skills by both general and special education teachers
(Cannon, Idol, & West, 1992; Mandell & Strain, 1978). Yet at the
same time, classroom teachers report feeling most underprepared in the
area of classroom management (Barrett & Davis, 1995; Pilarski,
1994). Ill-equipped to handle the challenges of disruptive classroom
behavior, inexperienced teachers may increasingly adopt an authoritarian
approach to management and engage students in power struggles that serve
only to escalate disruption (Emmer, 1994; Kearney, Plax, Sorenson, &
Ineffective School Disciplinary Practices
The past 10 years have seen a dramatic increase in the promulgation
of zero tolerance school discipline policies. Relying primarily upon
school exclusion (suspension and expulsion) and school security measures
(e.g., metal detectors, video surveillance, locker searches), zero
tolerance policy tends to punish both major and minor incidents severely
in order to "send a message" that certain behaviors will not
be tolerated (Skiba & Peterson, 1999). Since the passage of the Gun
Free Schools Act (1994), federal policy has adopted a zero tolerance
approach for firearms, mandating a 1-year expulsion for their possession
on school grounds. Some school districts have extended zero tolerance
even farther to fighting (Petrillo, 1997), homework completion (McFeely,
1998), or even off-campus behavior (Seymour, 1999). Although suspensions
and expulsions for apparently trivial reasons such as possession of
cough drops or nail files have fueled controversy over zero tolerance
(Skiba & Peterson), many districts continue to toughen their
disciplinary policies ("Groups critical of no second chances,"
Noguera (1995) has argued that stringent disciplinary policies are
adopted less for their effectiveness than for their symbolic value,
attempting to reassure administrators, parents, and teachers that strong
actions are being taken in response to a perceived breakdown of school
order. In an era of educational accountability, however, it is
reasonable to inquire about the effects and effectiveness of any
educational policy. To what extent have zero tolerance and exclusionary
discipline been effective in increasing school safety?
School Security Measures. In the aftermath of the Columbine High
School tragedy, there have been increased calls for widespread
application of school security technology. Yet it is important to note
that, aside from district testimonials, there are few empirical
evaluations of the efficacy of such approaches. Table 1 presents the
results of an electronic literature search on the ERIC and Criminal
Justice Abstract databases for published evaluations providing data on
the effectiveness of school security measures (metal detector, locker
search, surveillance camera, and school uniforms) from 1988 to 1999. As
can be noted, the data on such measures are extremely sparse. There can
be little doubt that more data is needed on the effectiveness of
prevention for reducing school violence (Hawkins, Farrington, &
Catalano, 1998). Yet the bottom rows of Table 1 suggest that preventive
approaches such as conflict resolution and improved classroom management
come a good deal closer to acceptable standards of accountability for
educational interventions than do the more politically popular school
TABLE 1 Number of Published Investigations for Selected School
Security and Preventive Measures Listed in ERIC and Criminal Justice
(a) Documents were retrieved via electronic search on the ERIC and
Criminal Justice Abstracts databases, using any variation of the term
(e.g., locker searches). Only studies that took place in the context of
schools were retained.
(b) Documents that included the term study, research, or survey
were retained, including either research studies or reviews of published
literature. Investigations conducting survey research about the strategy
were retained, but not research on a more general topic that mentioned
the strategy in passing. No attempt was made to judge the quality of the
The data that do exist fail to provide much support that school
security measures are sufficient for deterring violence. The National
Center for Education Statistics report, Violence and Discipline Problems
in U.S. Public Schools: 1996-97 (Heaviside et al., 1998) documented that
schools that rely heavily on zero tolerance policies continue to be less
safe than schools that implement fewer components of zero tolerance.
Using structural equation modeling to predict the incidence of school
violence, Mayer and Leone (1999) found structural paths suggesting that
overreliance on physical security procedures appears to be associated
with an increased risk of school disorder. Moreover, qualitative
research has suggested that misuse of school security measures such as
locker or strip searches can create an emotional backlash in students
(Hyman & Perone, 1998).
In an era of school reform characterized by an intense focus on the
accountability of academic instruction, the almost total lack of data on
the effects of school security measures is at best surprising. In the
wake of the Columbine shootings, school security measures have and
doubtless will be more widely used in schools. Indeed, an emphasis on
assessing building security appears to be an important component in a
comprehensive plan for addressing violence and disruption (Dwyer, Osher,
and Warger 1998). Yet as security technology is increasingly considered
for school adoption, it would be very valuable to know whether the
substantial outlays that will be required will in any way guarantee a
reduction in school disruption or violence.
Unfair and Inconsistent Usage. One of the more widely replicated
findings in the field of behavior management is the key importance of
consistency in the administration of consequences (Deur & Parke,
1970; Wahler & Dumas, 1986). Yet research on the application of
school discipline suggests that unfair and inconsistent application of
disciplinary measures is common, and that school attributes make a
strong contribution to predicting which students are disciplined. In an
ethnographic study, Brantlinger (1991) reported that disciplinary
sanctions at the secondary level were perceived to be unfairly targeted
at low-income students by both high- and low-income students.
Districtwide studies of school discipline have typically found wide
variation in the use of suspension and expulsion across schools (Kaeser,
1979; Massachusetts Advocacy Center, 1986). In a multivariate study
predicting the administration of school suspension, Wu, Pink, Crain, and
Moles (1982) reported that, while student behavior and attitude were
correlated with suspension, school characteristics such as school
governance, teacher attitude towards students, and race made a greater
overall contribution toward predicting suspension.
Relationship to School Dropout. School suspension has been
consistently found to be a moderate to strong predictor of school
dropout. In the High School and Beyond study, over 30% of sophomores who
dropped out of school had been suspended, a rate three times that of
peers who stayed in school (Ekstrom, Goertz, Pollack, & Rock, 1986).
Indeed, the relationship between suspension and dropout may not be
accidental. In ethnographic studies, school disciplinarians report that
suspension is sometimes used as a tool for pushout, to encourage
"troublemakers" or those perceived as unlikely to succeed in
school to leave (Bowditch, 1993).
Research from the field of developmental psychopathology may help
explain the relationship between suspension and school dropout.
Throughout the elementary school years, students at risk for developing
antisocial behavior exhibit disruptive behavior and experience social
and academic deficits that increasingly alienate them from teachers and
peers (Patterson, 1992). By middle school, these youngsters become less
interested in school and begin to seek out other antisocial peers. At
the same time, their families often fail to monitor their whereabouts,
allowing more unsupervised time on the streets (Ramsey, Walker, Shinn,
& O'Neill, 1989). For such a student, it seems unlikely that
school suspension will successfully impact behavior. Rather, suspension
may simply accelerate the course of delinquency by providing a troubled
youth with little parental supervision a few extra days with deviant
peers. Research in the field of juvenile delinquency suggests that the
strength of the school social bond is an important predictor in
explaining delinquency (Jenkins, 1997). From a developmental standpoint
then, one must question the wisdom of school exclusionary strategies
that are expressly intended to break that bond with troublesome
Disproportionate Use with Minorities. Analyzing Office of Civil
Rights data, the Children's Defense Fund (1974) first reported
rates of suspension for African-American students between two and three
times higher than those for white students at the elementary, middle,
and high school levels. Since that report, racial disproportionality in
the use of school suspension has been a highly consistent finding
(Costenbader & Markson, 1994; Kaeser, 1979; McCarthy & Hoge,
1987; McFadden, Marsh, Price, & Hwang, 1992; Skiba et al., 1997; Wu
et al., 1982). African-American students are also exposed more
frequently to more punitive disciplinary strategies, such as corporal
punishment (Shaw & Braden, 1990), and are less often consequated
with milder disciplinary alternatives when referred for an infraction
(McFadden et al.).
Race appears to make a contribution to disciplinary outcome
independent of socioeconomic status or student behavior. Wu et al.
(1982) reported that nonwhite students experienced higher rates of
suspension than white students, even after controlling for socioeconomic
status. Studies including measures of both disciplinary sanction and
student behavior (McCarthy & Hoge, 1987; McFadden et al., 1992) have
reported that differences in the rate of misbehavior for White and
African-American students are not sufficient to explain large
discrepancies in rate of suspension and expulsion. Indeed,
African-American students appear be referred for disciplinary sanctions
for less severe behavior (McFadden et al., 1992; Shaw & Braden,
1990). Bowditch (1993) argued that, whether or not ethnic
disproportionality in discipline practice is conscious, the
overrepresentation of African Americans and those of lower socioeconomic
status in disciplinary sanctions contributes to racial stratification in
school and society.
IDEA '97 AND THE NEED FOR A SYSTEMWIDE APPROACH
The 1997 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA '97) contains a number of promising provisions
that should address many of these concerns. Yet the current emphasis on
punishment and exclusion in general education creates a situation in
which special education initiative alone is insufficient and may well
create new tensions between general and special educators. The following
new provisions of IDEA '97 argue strongly that if there is to be
hope for success in reforming school discipline practice, it will be
necessary to undertake a systemwide approach that cuts across both
general and special education.
IDEA '97 Disciplinary Requirements.
IDEA '97 contains a number of promising new components
clarifying school disciplinary procedures for students with
disabilities. New language concerning 45-day placements in interim
alternative educational settings are intended to bridge the gap between
special and general education disciplinary procedures. Mandates that a
functional assessment and individual behavior plan be completed prior to
the 10th day of suspension can provide needed behavioral support for
students at risk for long-term exclusion. Yet the positive behavior
supports of IDEA '97 may find slow acceptance in a climate
dominated by punishment. The technology of functional assessment, for
example, enables school personnel to better understand the
"communicative intent" of challenging behavior (Brady &
Halle, 1997). In a zero-tolerance environment, however, teachers and
administrators may be less interested in understanding communicative
intent than in ridding schools and classrooms of troublesome students.
As one principal put it to these authors after a workshop on functional
assessment, "You don't get it. We don't want to
understand these kids; we want to get them out."
Families and School Discipline.
IDEA '97 has as one of its major foci increasing parent
participation and ownership in special education. Parent participation
has been expanded; beyond the case conference, parents must be included
in any meeting in which a decision on their child's educational
progress is being made. Again, however, the good intentions of IDEA
'97 may come into direct conflict with the perspective and practice
of schools. School personnel often view families as the chief cause of
school discipline problems; thus, when a child comes to the office
repeatedly, it is not uncommon for school disciplinarians to seek to
punish parents as well as children (Bowditch, 1993). If parents and
families are to be effective in fulfilling a more active role in the
education of students with disabilities, alternative disciplinary
approaches that treat parents as partners rather than adversaries are
Increased Emphasis on Inclusion.
One of the goals of IDEA '97 revisions is to make inclusion in
the general education curriculum the default option for students with
disabilities. Yet the inclusion of students with emotional and
behavioral problems is fraught with difficulty (Lewis, Chard, &
Scott, 1994; Muscott, Morgan, & Meadows, 1996). Under-trained in
effective management strategies, teachers and administrators are likely
to respond to challenging behavior with school exclusion. It is not
surprising then that students with disabilities, especially students
with emotional and behavioral disorders, are overrepresented in the use
of suspension and expulsion (Cooley, 1995; Rose, 1988). Without general
reform of school discipline practice, increased instructional inclusion
for students with emotional and behavioral problems may lead to
increased exclusion when those students engage in disruptive behavior in
general education settings.
In short, attempts by special educators to better meet the
behavioral needs of students with disabilities in general education
settings are likely to create increased conflict with general educators,
whose primary goal may well be the removal of troublesome students from
mainstream educational environments. In our experience, the IDEA
'97 requirement for a continuing free and appropriate public
education for students with disabilities who are expelled has created
great frustration for many administrators who bridle at the limits it
seems to place on their ability to discipline. It may well be this
frustration that has led to attempts by legislators and special interest
groups to amend or weaken the disciplinary provisions of IDEA '97.
A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON SCHOOL DISCIPLINE
The stringent and punitive disciplinary climate that currently
predominates in America's schools thus leads to two important
difficulties. First, like most approaches to behavior change that rely
solely on punishment, it has not been effective. Disorder and violence
in America's schools do not appear to have been appreciably
diminished, despite 4 years of national policy explicitly encouraging
tougher responses. Second, for special educators, overreliance on
suspension and expulsion represents an important barrier that transforms
any attempt to better meet the behavioral and emotional needs of
students with disabilities into a potential source of conflict with
general education administrators and teachers. It is becoming
increasingly apparent that providing effective behavioral supports for
students with disabilities requires that the school disciplinary climate
be improved for all students.
If America's schools are to break the cycle of violence,
educators and policymakers must begin to look beyond stiffer
consequences to long-term planning designed to foster nonviolent school
communities. Recently, a comprehensive model of prevention has begun to
emerge as a guiding framework for addressing the complexity of emotional
and behavioral problems in schools (APA, 1993; Dwyer et al., 1998;
Walker et al., 1996). The approach is grounded in a primary prevention
approach to mental health and behavior planning (Pianta, 1990),
targeting three levels of intervention. That trilevel model is described
in detail by other authors in this series (Dwyer, Osher, and Hoffman
[this issue]; Sprague and Walker [this issue]).
Such models might be conceptualized as an early response rather
than a zero tolerance approach to school violence. An early response
model of school discipline assumes that there is no one simple solution
that can address all problems of school disruption. Rather, developing
safe and responsive schools requires comprehensive and long-term
planning, an array of effective strategies, and a partnership of school,
family, and community. A number of strategies have been shown to make a
contribution to reducing school disruption and creating a more positive
climate. Preliminary research suggests that a comprehensive combination
of these components can be highly effective in reducing school
disruption and violence (Hawkins, Catalano, Kosterman, Abbott, &
Hill, 1999). Some combination of the following components is likely
necessary in order to address the complex problems of violence
* Conflict Resolution/Social Instruction. The Clinton
Administration's response to the violence in Littleton, Colorado,
has stressed the importance of teaching students alternatives to
violence in resolving their conflicts. Although there is as yet little
evidence that primary prevention approaches are sufficient for students
already exhibiting aggressive behavior (APA, 1993), social instructional
approaches can help establish a nonviolent school climate, by teaching
students alternative methods for resolving conflict (Bodine, Crawford,
& Schrumpf, 1994). In the most comprehensive evaluation of conflict
resolution to date, Johnson and Johnson (1996) reported that conflict
resolution and peer mediation have demonstrated some success in reducing
school suspension and in improving school climate.
* Classroom Strategies for Disruptive Behavior. Inadequate
preparation for dealing with classroom disruption increases the chance
that teacher reactions will contribute to the escalation of minor
disruption. Appropriate strategies for handling misbehavior and teaching
appropriate behavior can help prevent minor misbehavior from
accelerating into a classroom or school crisis (Emmer, 1994; Gunter
& Denny, 1996; Murdick & Petch-Hogan, 1996). Increasing the use
of positive reinforcement by teachers appears to be capable of a strong
effect in reducing school suspension and dropout rates (Meyer, Mitchell,
Clementi, & Clement-Robertson, 1993).
* Parent Involvement. The national dialogue precipitated by the
Littleton tragedy has placed a good deal of blame on parents, and the
literature on antisocial behavior indeed reflects the critical
importance of parental monitoring (Patterson, 1992). Too often, however,
information about inadequate family resources or family instability is
used to affix blame, creating an adversarial climate between home and
school. Rather than simply blaming parents as the cause of discipline
problems, effective disciplinary programs forge a partnership with
parents and the community (Barclay & Boone, 1997; Morrison, Olivos,
Dominguez, Gomez, & Lena, 1993).
* Early Warning Signs and Screening. In the rush to understand the
motivations of school shooters, care must be taken to apply early
warning signs to help, rather than segregate or profile, troubled
students. Yet systematic early identification of students who may be at
risk for serious disruption and violence may increase the chances of
providing behavioral support before unmet social and behavioral needs
escalate into violence (Dwyer et al., 1998; Forness, Kavale, MacMillan,
Asarnow, & Duncan, 1996; Quinn, Mathus, & Rutherford, 1995).
* School- and Districtwide Data Systems. One of the striking
features of Littleton was the extent to which both school and law
enforcement personnel were unaware of risk factors that were common
knowledge among students. Improved data collection on discipline and
office referrals is critical in evaluating school and district progress
in handling both major and minor disciplinary issues
(Morgan-D'Atrio, Northrup, LaFleur, & Spera, 1996; Skiba et
al., 1997; Tobin, Sugai, & Colvin, 1996).
* Crisis and Security Planning. Beyond consideration of school
security technology, effective plans for crisis intervention and
security planning are essential in ensuring a coordinated approach to
serious school incidents (Bender & McLaughlin, 1997; Myles &
Simpson, 1994; Poland, 1994).
* Schoolwide Discipline and Behavioral Planning. Schoolwide
discipline plans and behavior support teams build consistency and
communication and have been shown to be a key element in effective
responses to school disruption (Colvin, Kame'enui, & Sugai,
1993; Gottfredson et al., 1993; Hawkins, Doueck, & Lishner, 1988).
* Functional Assessment and Individual Behavior Plans. Although a
number of issues relevant to the functional assessment mandate of IDEA
'97 remain to be resolved (Nichols, this issue; Smith, this issue),
effective implementation of the positive behavioral supports required by
IDEA '97 can help meet the needs of individuals with disabilities
or more severe behavioral needs (Broussard & Northup, 1995; Horner
& Carr, 1997; Lewis & Sugai, 1996).
In summary, the early response model of discipline emphasizes a
comprehensive program to build positive prosocial behavior, rather than
merely punishing inappropriate behavior. Whether at the school or the
individual level, effective intervention requires a wide spectrum of
options that move significantly beyond a narrow focus on punishment and
The field of special education has made remarkable progress in the
past 15 years toward the academic integration of students with
disabilities in the general education curriculum. Yet the best
instructional programs will be for naught if we cannot ensure our
children's safety or teach them how to live and work together
The emerging literature on school discipline may simply reflect
what the fields of applied behavior analysis and special education have
stressed for 40 years: That punishment, especially punishment alone,
cannot teach new behavior (The Council for Exceptional Children, 1991;
Skinner, 1953). The literature on negative consequences (Axelrod &
Apsche, 1983; MacMillan, Forness, & Trumball, 1973; Wood &
Braaten, 1983) has consistently demonstrated a host of serious
side-effects in using punishment-based approaches, including escape and
counter-aggression, habituation to progressively stiffer consequences,
and reinforcement of the punishing agent. Further, unless accompanied by
positive consequences or alternative goals, student reaction to harsh
consequences is likely to be unpredictable, as likely to lead to escape
or counter-aggression as to any meaningful alternative behavior. The
appropriate application of consequences at opportune moments is
certainly one tool for teaching students that actions have consequences
in a lawful society; yet consequences alone have not been and are not
likely to be sufficient.
It is interesting to note that the word discipline comes from the
same Latin root as the word disciple: discipere, to teach or comprehend.
Children are developmentally incomplete. They will always require
socialization, instruction, and correction to shape fundamentally
egocentric behavior into interpersonal skills that make our children
capable of interacting successfully. The crux of school discipline turns
on how instruction and correction are to be provided.
Indeed, the message of recent school shootings may well be that at
least some of our nation's children, perhaps large segments of the
school population, lack a fundamental understanding of how to solve
intra- and interpersonal problems in social settings. The violence
perpetrated by a handful of individuals in schools has been truly
shocking. Yet the fact that the graphic threats of school shooters were
often treated as jokes by peers suggests an equally shocking conclusion,
that many of our youth have become to some extent inured to frightening
levels of violence in resolving conflict. Ultimately, the fundamental
challenge in developing effective models of school discipline will be to
put together an array of options that can teach both general and special
education students the skills they need to live together successfully.
The following articles present a variety of perspectives on school
discipline and school violence, and suggest alternative strategies to
punitive and exclusionary discipline. Dwyer, Osher, and Hoffman discuss
the cross-agency collaboration that resulted in the Department of
Education's Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe
Schools, and highlight important principles of prevention, early
intervention, and school and community collaboration. The importance of
early identification and intervention is highlighted by Sprague and
Walker, who provide a databased framework for understanding risk and
preventing violence. Townsend presents data on the extent and
implications of African-American overrepresentation in exclusionary and
punitive discipline and outlines approaches for addressing inequity in
school discipline. Nichols provides a thought-provoking critique of the
adequacy of current functional assessment models to capture the
high-intensity, low-frequency behaviors that characterize school
violence. Finally, in an analysis of judicial decisions since the
promulgation of IDEA '97, Smith sheds light on the gap between
current practice and the competencies mandated by the new special
Despite a host of concerned opinion on the topic, there is as yet
little empirical data on the causes of school violence or the factors
that can successfully prevent violence in our schools. Yet school
violence has become a matter of public health concern (Hamburg, 1998)
that demands consideration by professionals, communities, and schools.
If we are to teach both special and general education students how to
live together safely and sanely, it is time to begin a serious
consideration of school disciplinary alternatives.
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(*) To order books referenced in this journal, please call 24
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RUSSELL SKIBA, Associate Professor, Department of Counseling and
Educational Psychology, Indiana University, Bloomington. REECE L.
PETERSON (CEC #505), Associate Professor, Department of Special
Education, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
Manuscript received May 1999; revision accepted September 1999.
The authors gratefullly acknowledge the assistance of Ms. Louise
Pinkerton in the preparation of this manuscript and series.
Please address correspondence to Dr. Russell Skiba, Safe and
Responsive Schools Project, Indiana Education Policy Center at Indiana
University, Smith Center for Research in Education, Suite 170, 2805 East
10th Street, Bloomington, IN 47408-2698
Number of Number of
Published Articles Evaluations or
Retrieved in Research
Strategy Search(a) Studies(b)
School Security Measures
Locker Search 4 0
Metal Detector 28 2
School Uniforms 19 2
Surveillance Camera 4 0
Conflict Resolution 132 35
Management 512 103