Want to Create a Safer World? Create a Safer Classroom

Recent events in Mali, Paris, Beirut, and Nigeria focus our attention on the problem of extreme brutality perpetrated against innocents. As politicians debate policy proposals for dealing with terrorism abroad, scholars, community leaders, and students should not forget the importance of creating a culture of care in the classroom. 

Mainstream media seems to have forgotten about the South Carolina teen girl who suffered mistreatment and humiliation in front of her peers and her male teacher in a classroom. 

Also forgotten — the Texas teen attacked after leaving a pool party. The latter incident did not occur in a school setting, however the incident was witnessed by the girl’s peers and adults, including males.

It is important to revisit the space of the classroom where kids interact and form relationships that exist both inside and outside of the institution. Does the classroom space as a site of safety fit into the American narrative of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

Educators and policy makers may reflect on how students’ affective classroom experiences impact their life choices. 

Research questions:

  1. How does witnessing violence in a school setting impact young people’s vocational and avocational choices? 
  2. Are kids who witness abuse of other kids in school more likely to choose authoritative jobs, or uninvolved   jobs (meaning jobs where they do not typically engage in boundary-setting with peers and subordinates)?
  3. Is someone who witnessed classroom violence more likely to become a leader or a follower?