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1 October, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Just witnessing school violence can leave psychic scars

Just witnessing school 
violence can leave 
psychic scars

For middle school students, witnessing school violence can be as bad as being bullied, new research suggests. An international team of researchers found that young witnesses face many of the same challenges later on as those who are direct victims of campus violence. Notably, eighth-grade witnesses are at higher risk for social and academic problems by the time they're high school sophomores. "It is clear that approaches to prevention and intervention should include witnesses as well victims and perpetrators and target all forms of school violence," said study leader Michel Janosz. He's director of the School of Psycho-Education at the University of Montreal.

Janosz said supportive family and community relationships help young people cope after they're exposed to these traumatic events. "These also prevent emotional desensitization to violence which also contributes to aggressive behavior in youth," he said in a university news release.

The study involved nearly 4,000 students in Quebec. The researchers wanted to know how witnessing violence at age 13 affected their social and academic behavior. The study looked at students' use of drugs, delinquency and school performance, as well as their emotional well-being two years later.

The researchers also compared the long-term effects of witnessing violence with those experiencing violence directly.

The study, published recently in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found most students had observed violence at school.

Those who had seen physical assaults or someone carrying weapons in the eighth grade had a higher risk of drug use and delinquency later on, the study found. The same was also true for those who had witnessed thefts and vandalism, which the researchers described as hidden or veiled violence.

In addition, exposure to less serious acts such as threats and insults was associated with increased drug use, social anxiety, symptoms of depression and less involvement at school, the researchers noted. But only an association rather than a cause-and-effect link was observed. Study co-author Linda Pagani is also a professor at the School of Psycho-Education. "There were several take-home messages. First, witnessing school violence in Grade 8 predicted later impairment at Grade 10. Second, bystander effects were very similar to being victimized by violence directly," she said in the news release. The research team said post-violence interventions should encourage concern for others and intolerance for disrespect.

"Nobody should feel powerless," Janosz said. "Schools should seek to empower bystander students who are not directly involved in acts of school violence, rather than giving them messages to stay uninvolved."

Recent research has linked the school environment to school violence. Teacher assaults are associated with a higher percentage male faculty, a higher proportion of male students, and a higher proportion of students receiving free or reduced cost lunch (an indicator of poverty).

In general, a large male population, higher grade levels, a history of high levels of disciplinary problems in the school, high student to teacher ratios, and an urban location are related to violence in schools. In students, academic performance is inversely related to antisocial conduct. The research by Hirschi and others, cited above in the section on the home environment, is also consistent with the view that lack of attachment to school is associated with increased risk of antisocial conduct.

HealthDay                                                                           

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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