April 25, 2009
Run! It’s The Student Council President
What part do extracurricular activities play in school violence?
In most movies about high school, the student council president, the so-called "band geek" or the kid who stays after school for math club often fall victim to the teasing and bullying of the popular students or "jocks."
That's because Maureen Dzanis, an Educational Psychology graduate student in Temple University's College of Education, has found that while such students are still most likely to be bullied by athletes or others in an urban school district, they're also most likely to be the ones doing the bullying.
Dzanis, who conducted the research through the Institute for Student Success at Temple, surveyed 1,203 students as part of a grant application for an urban school district's Safe Schools/Healthy Students initiative. Among the questions she asked were questions about extracurricular activities such as athletics and student council, and safety.
While she wasn't surprised to see incidents of violence among students in activities like football and basketball because other research has shown this as well, her other results were unexpected, Dzanis said.
So naturally, the next question Dzanis asked was "Why?" Could it be that by staying at school longer these students had more occasions to be violent? Could it be the decrease in hallway surveillance that comes with the end of the school day?
Or could it be the programs themselves?
"We have to look at the quality of the programs," she said. "How many adults per student are present? Is [the program] a structured, meaningful activity? Is it goal directed? If kids and teachers are just hanging out, that needs to be explored."
This represents the first year of a two-year study that Dzanis is doing on this school district, she said. Among the things that will be looked at and assessed next are the roles that peer pressure and adult attachment play in and how they can be used to make positive changes.
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