School violence: Subjective theories of academic advisory board members from six chilean schools

Gabriella Natassia Von Reininghaus, Pablo Javier Castro, Susana Frisancho

Producción científica: Contribución a una revistaArtículorevisión exhaustiva

6 Citas (Scopus)


This study analyzes the subjective theories regarding school violence held by six school officials of the city of Coquimbo (Chile). School violence is action carried out by a member of a school community that intends to cause harm against any member of that community. The study's main objective is to identify and interpret the various subjective theories regarding school violence held by the school officials as well as to explore whether there is a moral dimension to their subjective theories. We are interested in the moral dimension of the problem because research has shown that processes such as moral reasoning,moral identity, or moral motivation are linked tostudents' behavior in schools. Furthermore, socialinteractions are critical for the development ofmore advanced levels of moral reasoning. Thestudy focuses on six members of the academicadvisory board from six different schools, threemunicipal (public) schools and three subsidizedprivate schools in the region of Coquimbo (Chile).Because the role of the administrative team isbecoming increasingly important in the properfunctioning of educational institutions, characteristics of school officials such as their leadershipskills, negotiation skills, or abilities solve conflicts,have a direct impact on the success or failure ofany educational program. Due to the qualitativeapproach of this study, each participant wasinterviewed using an individual semi-structuredinterview followed by a self-report questionnaire.Results were analyzed, organized, and interpretedbased on grounded theory, which has been shownto be useful in analyzing subjective theories. Participants' explanations regarding school vio lencewere reconstructed using the semantic categoriesthat emerged in their interview responses. Resultsindicate that participants view school violence asan important social problem that should be contested; however, at the same time participants feel thatit is not prevalent at their own educational institutions. Moreover, all participants believe thatschool violence takes place because of socialinfluences, such as socialization processes at home,family values, quality of education, and influence ofmass media, among others. This shows that participants hold a concept of the individual as merelyrespondent to environmental forces, lacking ra tional process and agency to discern and make moraljudgments as a base for their actions. This is problem atic because school violence has a moraldimension, as it involves issues of fairness, cooperation, conflict, negotiation with others, justice,and welfare. Results show that none of the participants understand violence as related to morality.Consequently, participants support traditionalapproaches to combat school violence aimed eitherat making students behave as it is prescribed byschool norms or at enhancing students' social skills.However, such approaches disregard any moraleducation or moral discernment, even thoughresearch has identified moral values, the main variable in the study of social behaviour (Delfino & Zubieta, 2011), and moral development as factors related to violence. In general, school officials regard violence as externally originated, caused mainly by social forces and cultural factors. They also have subjective theories that hold the causes of school violence to be external and un manageable, minimizing their responsibility and their sense of efficacy in dealing with the problem. Assuming that a major role of education is to facilitate a better understanding of the world and knowing that teachers' beliefs are very important into explain teachers' behavior, the results of this study are discussed regarding its implications for education, particularly moral education and the prevention of violence.

Idioma originalInglés
Páginas (desde-hasta)219-234
Número de páginas16
EstadoPublicada - 2013


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