Notwithstanding the limited amount of current quantitative research on the nature and extent of school violence, references were drawn from contemporary Canadian sources as much as possible in order to provide a contextually relevant picture of what is thought and known about the topic.
Specific studies conducted with Canadian students were not available until after the data for this research were collected. However, the information gained from a review of that research did provide direction for the analysis and interpretation of the findings presented in this study. Reviewing the historical development of definitions of violence was deemed an essential first step in interpreting studies of school violence.
The list of behaviors such definitions encompasses played a major role in the development of the instruments through which data on the nature and extent of violence were collected. Although there is some disagreement the prevailing view on defining school violence is that it encompasses both physical as well as verbal aggression.
Within this context, both the nature and extent of violence in schools is considered by many researchers to be under-reported and underplayed). The use of weapons in settling disputes was reported to be increasing with knives as the preferred weapon by perpetrators as well as victims (for protection).The consensus in Canada amongst educators researchers, and the public is that school violence is an escalating problem both in its nature and extent.
What is not as readily agreed upon, are the root causes of this violence and who should be responsible for managing and reducing it in schools schools cannot solve all of society’s ills. The important role that schools play in influencing the lives of young people can not be disregarded, however. For this reason, a number of educators, researchers and police believe that schools must develop and expand policies and programs to reduce school violence.
The Ontario Ministry of Education and Training, the British Columbia School Trustees Association and the Alberta School Boards Association have strongly encouraged educators to implement strategies of prevention, intervention and response to assist in dealing with the problem of school violence.To date, the majority of school boards across Canada have not developed formal policies in the areas of early and on-going intervention or prevention.