We’ve all seen the news coverage regarding the high school massacres that happened in Florida and Michigan back in 2018 and 2021. Now that students have returned to in-person learning, there is growing concern regarding not only students’ mental but also their physical well-being while at school. According to the National Institute of Justice, crime and violence in schools have been decreasing, but multi-victim homicides are on the rise1. The number of students who experience violence in schools remains a staggering one — according to UNICEF, half of students globally aged 13-15 (approximately 150 million) report experiencing peer-to-peer violence at school2. What is the cause of violence in schools, and what effect is it having on our students? 

Many factors contribute to school violence, and there is no one solution that will end it. Fortunately, there are proven methods of reducing violence and improving the mental and physical well-being not only of our students, but their parents and teachers.  

Potential causes of violence in schools 

What is violence in schools? 

Violence in schools includes physical violence, psychological violence, sexual violence, and bullying (which includes cyberbullying). Violence in schools most often occurs between students, but it can also occur between students and their teachers. It takes place on school property, during school trips and events, or on the way to and from school. 

What are the main causes of violence in schools? 

Some of the main causes of violence in schools include: 

  • Poverty 
  • Harmful religious or cultural practices 
  • Under resourced schools, lack of teacher training regarding child-development 
  • Harsh or violent parenting 
  • Taboo/silence surrounding violence in the community 

Children with the following risk factors (disability, poverty, live in institutional care, are migrants, identify as LGBTI) are more likely to be victims of violence3. 

Violent media/entertainment is also considered an influence with regards to violent behavior4. Research has proven that constant exposure to violent media can have a desensitizing, negative effect on the brain, and coupled with the number of hours children now spend on their devices, it is a valid concern. Video games in particular are often considered as having a negative impact on children; however, it has also been proven that they can have a positive effect on the brain, so moderation is key.  

Children who are negatively impacted by exposure to violent content may also benefit from being able to discuss it with an adult or having their content consumption more closely monitored.  

What is the most common form of school violence? 

According to UNICEF, the most common form of school violence is bullying5 

Effect of violence in schools 

Children impacted by violence may suffer physically, mentally, often both. Potential illnesses include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexually transmitted infections, or suicide. Violence in schools also has an impact on student attendance, which leads to lower grades6.  

Solutions to violence in schools 

Parental guidance 

It is crucial that parents establish a strong channel of communication with their children, so they can be on the lookout for the warning signs of violent behavior. Children are impressionable, and if they grow up in an environment that includes violent behaviors such as shouting or hitting, they are more likely to think it is normal or acceptable behavior.  

Safeguarding software 

There are now software tools that can help identify students who are suffering from mental health issues so they can get the mental health support they need as quickly as possible.

onGuard sends real-time alerts when a student engages with content that signals early detection of sexual grooming, suicide attempts, self-harm, radicalization, and other potentially harmful online activity, helping schools be proactive about student safety online. Netsweeper scans both online and offline content, such as chat messages, emails, and documents, content that was previously unavailable to schools for monitoring. onGuard’s advanced categorization and analysis engine also helps to reduce the number of false positive alerts, minimizing administration requirements.  


  1. What do the data reveal about violence in schools? National Institute of Justice Journal. Nadine Frederique. November 13, 2020. 
  2. An Everyday Lesson #ENDViolence in Schools. UNICEF. September 2018.  
  3. An Everyday Lesson #ENDViolence in Schools. UNICEF. September 2018. 
  4. Screen Violence and Youth Behavior. American Academy of Pediatrics. Craig A. Anderson et al., November 1, 2017.
  5. An Everyday Lesson #ENDViolence in Schools. UNICEF. September 2018. 
  6. An Everyday Lesson #ENDViolence in Schools. UNICEF. September 2018. 

Further Resources 

How to Curb Gun Violence with Early Warning Sign Detection 

Bouncing Back: How the Education System can Suffering from Mental Health 

Maintaining Communication Practices with Parents While Students are Back at School 

7 Ways to Reduce Cyberbullying in Schools 

Bringing an End to Bullying