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versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027


VON REININGHAUS, Gabriela Natassia; CASTRO, Pablo Javier  y  FRISANCHO, Susana. School violence: Subjective theories of academic advisory board members from six chilean schools. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2013, vol.30, n.2, pp.219-234. ISSN 1668-7027.

This study analyzes the subjective theories regarding school violence held by six school officials of the city of Coquimbo (Chile). School violence is action carried out by a member of a school community that intends to cause harm against any member of that community. The study's main objective is to identify and interpre tthe various subjective theories regarding school violence held by the school officials as well as to explore whether there is a moral dimension to their subjective theories. We are interested in the moral dimension of the problem because research has shown that processes such as moral reasoning, moral identity, or moral motivation are linked to students' behavior in schools. Furthermore, social interactions are critical for the development of more advanced levels of moral reasoning. The study focuses on six members of the academic advisory board from six different schools, three municipal (public) schools and three subsidized private schools in the region of Coquimbo (Chile). Because the role of the administrative team is becoming increasingly important in the proper functioning of educational institutions, characteristics of school officials such as their leadership skills, negotiation skills, or abilities solve conflicts, have a direct impact on the success or failure of any educational program. Due to the qualitative approach of this study, each participant was interviewed using an individual semi-structured interview followed by a self-report questionnaire. Results were analyzed, organized, and interpreted based on grounded theory, which has been shown to be useful in analyzing subjective theories. Participants' explanations regarding school violence were reconstructed using the semantic categories that emerged in their interview responses. Results indicate that participants view school violence as an important social problem that should be contested; however, at the same time participants feel that it is not prevalent at their own educational institutions. Moreover, all participants believe that school violence takes place because of social influences, such as socialization processes at home, family values, quality of education, and influence of mass media, among others. This shows that participants hold a concept of the individual as merely respondent to environmental forces, lacking rational process and agency to discern and make moral judgments as a base for their actions. This is problematic because school violence has a moral dimension, as it involves issues of fairness, cooperation, conflict, negotiation with others, justice, and welfare. Results show that none of the participants understand violence as related to morality. Consequently, participants support traditional approaches to combat school violence aimed either at making students behave as it is prescribed by school norms or at enhancing students' social skills. However, such approaches disregard any moral education or moral discernment, even though research has identified moral values, the main variable in the study of social behaviour (Delfino & Zubieta, 2011), and moral development as factors related to violence. In general, school officials regard violence as externally originated, caused mainly by social forces and cultural factors. They also have subjective theories that hold the causes of school violence to be external and un manageable, minimizing their responsibility and their sense of efficacy in dealing with the problem. Assuming that a major role of education is to facilitate a better understanding of the world and knowing that teachers' beliefs are very important into explain teachers' behavior, the results of this study are discussed regarding its implications for education, particularly moral education and the prevention of violence.

Palabras clave : Academic advisory board; Subjective theories; School violence; Moral dimension; Qualitative research.

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