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School Violence

A major line of dramatic action in the 1955 motion picture Blackboard Jungle, based on Evan Hunter's novel, involves an idealistic high-school teacher's quest to make administrators, including his own school's principal, acknowledge that the tough urban school has a problem with juvenile discipline. Vandalism, gang activity, racially motivated fighting, assaults on students and teachers--all of these are features of the film, and all reflect what in the 1950s was termed juvenile delinquency. Hunter (1955) asserted the novel to be a commentary on a major US social problem of the day and claimed that narrative was based on fact. So strong was the impact of the film on popular culture that Clare Booth Luce, wife of Time magazine publisher Henry Luce and Eisenhower's US ambassador to Italy in the mid-1950s, intervened with the Venice Film Festival to prevent Blackboard Jungle from being screened there (Kael, 1996). Violence is a part of the film Blackboard Jungle; a teacher is assaulted, saved from a gang rape by the hero, who proceeds to explore mutuality and hope for the future with the one delinquent who is portrayed as having a chance in life. But a remark in Kael's review (1996) of the film Blackboard Jungle is instructive for the present research: "Once again, a 'daring' Hollywood movie exposes social tensions--touches a nerve--and then pours on the sweet nothings." Equally instructive is that Blackboard Jungle is set in a public school for boys, a school that is specifically organized around the idea of intervening in the problematic lives of problem juveniles.

Since 1955, the scope of violence in public schools has gone beyond alternative or mechanical-arts school environments. As mass-media coverage of mass shootings at such venues as Littleton, Colo., Paducah, Ky., and Jonesboro, Ark., vividly demonstrated in the 1990s, school violence has also gone beyond vandalism, teacher assaults, and urban settings, and decisively, dramat...

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School Violence. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 00:36, December 02, 2020, from