School violence is a very important social issue world-wide. It poses a significant threat to the health, achievement, and well-being of students. Although the most highly published incidents involve serious physical violence, less serious forms of physical aggression and psychological violence (including harassment, bullying, and relational aggression) present far more prevalent and persistent problems.
During the last twenty years there has been extensive research on identifying risk factors of school violence. Especially the concept of school climate has received increased attention. Most importantly, the social climate in class and in school is assumed to have a significant effect on the prevalence of violence in schools. But, the lack of clear definitions and empirically validated measures of school climate has resulted in a multitude of findings that are often difficult to interpret.
Professor Georges Steffgen and his team of researchers from the University of Luxembourg's Integrative Research Unit on Social and Individual Development (INSIDE) analysed the statistical results of a collection of empirical research studies, to find out if a relevant effect size could be detected between the relationship of school climate and school violence.
The meta-analysis of 36 independent studies reporting a relationship between school climate and school violence, showed a moderate negative relationship between students' perception of school climate and violence. Students' characteristics such as age, and gender, as well as school size and school grade do not influence this relationship.
The results, published in the April edition of the prestigious international review journal "Agression and Violent Behaviour" show that there is a relationship between school climate and violence. The analysis concludes that changes in the school environment could probably reduce the appearance of violent behaviour.
Professor Steffgen who is head of the University of Luxembourg's research group "Health promotion and aggression prevention" said:
"The research shows that implementing school educational and social functions do play a role, overturning the idea that violent perpetrators are themselves all alone responsible for school violence. Thus, it is recommended that future prevention programmes should consider both individual and environmental factors of school violence. "