The Impact of Violence on School Life in Chicago

The problem of violence is one of the most relevant issues in modern society. This problem is most acute with the life of the younger generation. While growing up, children go through the process of forming their views on life. Accordingly, it is necessary to protect them from the harmful effects of violence, which can leave a mark on their entire lives. Unfortunately, society is designed in such a way that violence accompanies people everywhere. The purpose of this study is to address the problem of violence inside and outside Chicago schools, as well as the effect of violence on school life.

Types and Causes of the Violence

The fact that increased levels of violence are affecting children negatively is indisputable. However, this factor has many different manifestations and affect children from various angles. As an example, violence can exist both within the school and beyond its borders, while still having an impact on the learning process. However, the environment that children encounter outside the school reduces the ability of students to focus on learning (Burdick-Will 205).

Children face violence, which causes them stress and behavioral abnormalities, which directly affects academic performance. Although the level of distribution of this problem does not seem significant, nevertheless, statistics indicate the opposite. Moreover, the situation with the impact of violence was recognized as a national crisis. Almost 21 percent of the children saw the attack on another person with their own eyes, and 56 percent at least once heard the sounds of gunfire (DaViera and Roy 1). Thus, recently the problem of community violence exposure is acquiring a truly menacing scale.

Violence outside the school can develop into a manifestation of disorder within the school walls. Children tend to copy adult behavior, so if they are always surrounded by violence, they will adopt this behavior. The child becomes aggressive due to constant negative pressure from all sides. Such factors may influence the work of the entire class because only a few students with behavioral abnormalities are sufficient to sabotage the learning process (Burdick-Will 205). Thus, it can be concluded that violence within schools is a response to violence seen from the outside, and it is external violence that causes a decrease in academic performance.

Effects of the Violence

The disorder affects children and is primarily expressed in the change in their behavior. The connection between existing violence and educational results lies in stress and behavioral deviations, which are the child’s protective mechanism (Burdick-Will 2). If a student grows up in an unfavorable, dangerous situation, or experiences unstable living conditions, this naturally affects his or her behavior (Aviles and Heybach 5).

As a result, the children react aggressively to provocations, as if trying to defend themselves (Burdick-Will 2). It is not uncommon for students to copy such behavior without showing aggression and violence on their own. However, even such an act in itself can cause dangerous misunderstandings on the part of both teachers and classmates. In extreme cases, this defensive reaction itself becomes the cause of violence, and thus street violence is transferred to the school.

However, the opposite reaction of excessive aggressiveness is expressed in enormous stress experienced by children and directly affecting their behavior. Another consequence of the impact of violence on students is their depression, constant anxiety, and distraction from the learning process (Burdick-Will 2). Research confirms the relationship between this psychological phenomenon and the amount of violence in schools.

According to studies by DaViera and Roy, the most significant anxiety occurs with a relatively low level (25%) of school violence, while a high level of violence increases stress only slightly (8). Naturally, such behavior also interferes with the study of both one student and the entire class as a whole, but the psychological trauma is a much more critical problem here. Constant exposure to harsh surroundings, negativity, and violence can traumatize the psyche of the child, sometimes even so much that the help of a specialist may be required.

Finally, on a global scale, violence can also affect the school as an institution as a whole. According to Aviles and Heybach, in some societies, schools are the only strongholds of stability (3). However, in an aggressive environment, even these strongholds may fall, as happened in the early 2000s, when several dozen schools were closed due to poor academic performance. The reason for this phenomenon was, in fact, the abundance of violence both outside schools and, accordingly, within their walls. In the end, the growing violence, not stopped by anything or anyone, increased to such an extent that it paralyzed the work of schools.

However, the dissolution of schools not only deprived thousands of children of education, but he also pushed them to the most natural path that most of them have already taken. The loss of any stability pushes people to the way of violence and crime, which only worsens the overall situation.

Thus, it can be concluded that violence can be divided into internal and external. However, violence in schools is a direct consequence of the growing force in the streets to which children living there are exposed. It is reflected in the form of stress, aggression, psychological trauma. In the general case, street violence spills over into school violence. Ultimately, this cycle of cruelty can significantly worsen the social and educational situation, as well as significantly increase the crime rate. That is why this problem is extremely relevant at the current time and requires active attention and resolution.


Aviles, Ann M., and Jessica A. Heybach. “Seeking Stability in Chicago: School Actions, (C)overt Forms of Racial Injustice, and the Slow Violence of Neoliberal Rationality.” Education Policy Analysis Archives, vol. 24, no. 58, 2017, pp. 1-32.

Burdick-Will, Julia. “Neighborhood Violence, Peer Effects, and Academic Achievement in Chicago.” Sociology of Education vol. 91, no. 3, 2018, pp. 205-223.

DaViera, Andrea L., and Amanda L. Roy. “Chicago Youths’ Exposure to Community Violence: Contextualizing Spatial Dynamics of Violence and the Relationship With Psychological Functioning.” American Journal of Community Psychology, 2019, pp.1-11.

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