There has been much concern recently about violence in the Philadelphia public schools. Having spent more than thirty-five, generally worthwhile, even enjoyable, years of my life in the Philadelphia public schools, both as student and teacher, I can assure you that violence in the schools is not the problem. There has always been some violence, often very extreme, in some schools. The basic problem is victimization.
In reality, the School District of Philadelphia, by means of its policies and practices, supports and protects those students who have developed into habitual predators. The victims are neglected. Coverup is standard practice. The violence that has erupted so vehemently in recent months is, as often as not, the attempt of victims to take back some control over their bodies and their personal dignity from the predators the schools pretend are not there.
Little will likely be done because any effective measure to reduce violence is likely to provoke vehement protest. And those who provoke vehement protest -- no matter how ill conceived that protest may be -- risk their administrative careers.
To examine these issues further, see A Letter About School Violence (circa 1993)
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