A child’s overall wellbeing depends on his/her environment and how his/her needs are catered for. The home plays a crucial part in the growth and development of the child. According to UNICEF (2013), a child requires a secure and safe home; n environment free of violence. His/her parents should be able to provide the necessary love and protection; the creation of a sense of routine and stability in the home impacts how a child deals with experiences at school and other places outside the home. However, this does not occur in many homes; several homes worldwide fail in the provision of a nurturing and safe environment for children.
Annually, millions of children are exposed to domestic violence and other problems within their homes. The problems include; domestic violence, child abuse, financial constraints, parental substance abuse and parental health problems among others (Blomfield et al. 2010). The children witness and experience the impact such problems have on other family members and themselves; this impacts their behavior at home and in school. Such problems in the home associate with the prevalence of violence among children in schools. Violence in school refers to the behavior of aggression displayed by children and adolescents within the school environment. Such learners fail to adhere to school regulations and exhibit punitive behaviors towards other learners (Estevez et al. 2008).
Importance of the research
This paper analyzes the relationship between family problems and violence at school. Differentstudies show that the display of violence at school is often an indication of an underlying family problem the child may be experiencing at home. An understanding of the relationship between both factors helps me as a scholar in exploring the different ways in which the factors may impact each other. It provides a wide range of avenues through which the factors interact. It also creates a foundation for the exploration of possible solutions to the negative effects of family problems on children’s wellbeing.
This study also analyzes the relationship based on a sociological perspective; the application of sociological concepts and theories will present a clear understanding of the concern and creating solutions. It will provide an immense contribution to sociology as a discipline. Last but not least, addressing the topic benefits the entire society; the society faces challenges of coping with domestic violence and other family problems. It engages in initiatives and efforts aimed at limiting the impact of such problems on people’s lives. Through the study, the society will acquire an in-depth understanding of the problem; this is a step in the creation of efficient solutions to the problem.
Family problems play a significant role in determining a child’s actions in the home and at school. The problems range from violence, abuse, mental health issues and substance addiction. One of the most outstanding problems is domestic violence and child abuse. A display of violence in the home, in most case, is a major contributor to the display of violent behavior by children (Steinberg, 2000).
In order to discuss different authors’ views on school violence and its connection to family problems, we must first explore the definition of school violence. SACE (2011), states that violence is the use of physical power or force against another person, oneself or a group; this results in injury, psychological harm, death deprivation or mal-development. In the school context, violence involves the intentional discomfort or harm inflicted on learners. School violence has a wide scope covering psychological and physical forms of violence. They include; initiation or hazing, physical or sexual assault, murder, rape, robberies, intimidation, stabbing, bullying, gang activities, shootings, drug trafficking, vandalism, property theft, violent protests and racial violence among others.
The violence types listed above are influenced by both gender and social dynamics witnessed in the unstable home environments. For example, children who live with a short-tempered parent may often be subjected to beatings whenever they do wrong. The same applies to alcoholic parents who become violent when drunk and beat their wives and children. Some parents, step-parents and relatives, may subject children to abuse in the home environment. Sexual violence causes pain and trauma to the children who in most cases do not know how to cope with the trauma. Such children can resort to destructive means of dealing with their problems; they project the emotions they feel through violence against the other children. Many boys who experience physical violence tend to bully other children at school (Estevez et al. 2008).
Children are first and foremost exposed to behavioral expectations from their caregivers; thus, mal-adjustments are often attributed to the home environment. As discussed earlier, the family is the most significant institution in moulding the attitudes, beliefs and values of children; they influence the behaviors they display during social experiences. A disorganized and unstable home is a breeding ground for the development of and antisocial and violent behaviors. Growing up in violent contexts and being exposed to high levels of violence has a negative influence on the child’s perception of how the world operates. For instance, the child’s sense of safety declines; this is replaced by feelings of anxiety, fear or anger. Thus, in order to cope with the onset of such feelings, the child learns that violent actions are normal and legitimate ways of handling different situations. He/she resorts to violent ways of dealing with conflicts and protecting him/herself (Farrington, 2013).
The persistence of a violent home environment worsens the violence problem in a child. Increased exposure to violence and reinforcement conditions the child’s brain into viewing aggression as normal; it contributes to the high and persistent rate of violence in schools worldwide (SACE, 2011). Problems in the home environment also increase the chances of the development of negative peer relationships. Children experiencing problems such as violence, in the home, are likely to associate with criminal, antisocial or delinquent peers. Such friendships are unhealthy and increase the chances of worse problems. The children have a high risk of being influenced or influencing others into negative activities such as violent acts.
Exposure to violent parents also contributes towards children’s problems in controlling their emotions; they often let their violent impulses get out of hand and engage in aggressive activities. There are families that engage in criminal and violent activities; children growing up in such environments are influenced by the family. They may be exposed to different forms of interpersonal violence within the family such as; beating, hitting, punching, and attacking with weapons. It is crucial to note that exposure to crime and violence in a family context increases the probability of involvement in school-based violence.
Subsequently, common causes on mental health problems among children are poor family relationships. Neglectful, punitive and hostile parents influence child development negatively; the children in such environments develop mental health complications. The complications, in turn, increase the risks of developing patterns of violent and antisocial behavior. Some of the mental health problems include; post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, conduct disorder, anxiety disorders and substance abuse issues (Steinberg, 2000).
Maslow’ Hierarchy of Needs is a theoretical perspective that can be used in curbing the influence of family problems on school violence. According to Maslow, people have an innate drive to reach their potential; this can only occur through the meeting of the basic needs of human existence. Safety and survival needs must be provided for; only then can belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization occur. Families experiencing multiple and complex problems are unable to provide for their children’s basic needs. This affects the children’s developmental process and psychological advancement; it results in the display of mal-adjusted behavior. For instance, children living in poverty and lack may exhibit violent behavior towards their counterparts. Those who are in unsafe environments and experience violence in the home also display aggressive tendencies (Blomfield et al. 2010). Thus, social programs aimed at eliminating school violence should also find out the conditions of the learners’ homes. They should come up with strategies in helping parents provide for their children’s needs and ensure safe nurturing home environments for their children.
There is an evident connection between family problems and school violence; many families’ domestic problems rub off on their children and cause aggressive behaviors. Being victims of violent behaviors at home and significantly contribute to the same behavior in school. The role of the home in perpetration violent displays in school is a major concern. It raises the need to include parents, caregivers, family and the community in the formation of school violence prevention initiatives (UNICEF, 2013). It will encourage and support teachers’ efforts in dealing with the problem. In my opinion, creating the best solution to a challenge involves its comprehensive analysis and deduction of the root cause. By addressing the causes of family violence, a stable and conducive home environment will be formed; a safe environment protects children from the detrimental effects of family problems.
Blomfield, L., Lamont, A., Parker, R. and Horsfall, B. (2010). Issues for Safety and Wellbeing of Children in Families with Multiple and Complex Problems. National Child Protection Clearinghouse. Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved April 12, 2014 from http://www.aifs.gov.au/nch/pubs/issues/issues33/issues33.pdf
Estevez, E., Jimenez, T. I. and Musitu, G. (2008). Violence and Victimization at School in Adolescence. School Psychology: pp. 79-115. Valencia: Nova Science Publishers. ISBN 978-1-60456-521-8. Retrieved April 12, 2014 from http://www.uv.es/lisis/estevez/E_L3.pdf
Farrington, D. P. (2013). Family Influences on Delinquency. Chapter 10. Retrieved April 12, 2014 from http://www.samples.jbpub.com/9780763760564_CH10_Springer.pdf
South African Council of Educators (2011). School-based Violence Report: An overview of school-based violence in South Africa. Retrieved April 12, 2014 from http://www.sace.org.za/upload/files/School%20Based%20Violence%20Report-2011.pdf
Steinberg, L. (2000). Youth Violence: Do parents and families make a difference? National Institute of Justice Journal. Retrieved April 12, 2014 from http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/jr000243f.pdf
UNICEF (2013). Behind Closed Doors: The impact of domestic violence on children. Retrieved April 12, 2014 from http://www.unicef.org/protection/files/BehindClosedDoors.pdf