Strategies to Keep Schools Safe

Published September 1, 1999

“Disorder occurs when many students do not recognize the legitimacy of school rules and violate them often. . . . Disorder can take the form of students arriving late, students wandering the halls, or even graffiti and litter. All of these invite students to test the limits further; in fact, testing the rules becomes part of the fun. Students who are not stopped when they wear hats, litter, carry forbidden beepers, or write on walls, soon challenge more important rules, like ‘Thou shalt not assault other students.’ . . . In the extreme, street culture (‘You gotta hurt them and hurt them first’) takes over.”

Alexander Volokh and Lisa Snell wrote these words a year and a half before the Columbine High School massacre in their policy study, “School Violence Prevention: Strategies to Keep Schools Safe.” In reviewing violence prevention strategies, the authors note that traditional remedies related to discipline and punishment have been limited at government-run schools because of safeguards against abuse of power. They also suggest that compulsory education laws may be contributing to violence in public schools.

For more information …

The October 1997 report by Alexander Volokh and Lisa Snell, “School Violence Prevention: Strategies to Keep Schools Safe,” is available as Policy Study No. 234 from the Reason Public Policy Institute, 3415 South Sepulveda Boulevard #400, Los Angeles, CA 90034, 310/391-2245.