School violence is one of the most serious problems currently facing the American educational system. The economic costs of the problem is enormous, having been estimated at over $200 million (Natalie, 1994b) . But even more serious is the social and psychological costs of violence. These costs are fear, suspicion, and alienation among students, teachers, and administrators.
Although the social and psychological costs are quite serious, there as been relatively little research examining the contribution to reducing or exacerbating violence that may be associated with the school principal, most particularly with his/her style of leadership. A search of 12 Dialog databases revealed only one study of school violence and principal leadership style.
However, there is reason to believe that leadership style may be a variable through which principals can reduce school violence. For example, Vecchio (1991) reports that studies of violence in the workplace have been fairly consistently associated with managerial leadership style. In this regard, Vecchio reports that when managers are oriented toward human relations rather than simply toward tasks, the levels of workplace violence are lower.
Could it be that when principals are more oriented toward human relations in their leadership style, the levels of student violence at their schools are lower than they are when other leadership styles are practiced? Indeed, several authors (e.g. Amey, 1991; Hutchinson, 1988) have characterized the principal's social role as that of being a human relation's agent.
Olivia (1993) defines the notion of educational administrators as human relation agents as a leadership approach that emphasizes group dynamics, the democratic process, and the application of the principles of the behavioral sciences to the educational setting. Olivia states that administrators who understand their role as human relations agents do not view administrative ...