The Role of Resource Officer Within Suburban School Structures

Introduction

Violence is believed to be a suburban public school problem and a consequence of poverty and family discord. However, it is argued that stable schools across the country are experiencing violence even though the nature and extent is different from that found in suburban and city schools.Teenage violence within school systems have been a growing concern for the educational system, particularly suburban schools. Studies have also focused on how the overall peer intimidation adversely affects and detrimentally impacts teenagers during different phases in their academic lives.

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There is proof in existing literature that nearly seven percent of Eighth Grade students do not go to school at least once a month on account of fear of being bullied by bigger children. Twenty-two percent of suburban 12 and 13 year-olds students know at least one person of the same age who is engaged in gang fights. The stereotype prey of an assault or theft is a male in Grade Seven who is injured by a peer group member.

As violence escalates, Theriot (2009) has asserted that a way to prevent violence is for resource officers to get involved as guides and pathways, to either prevent, or seek peaceful paths out of potential violent situations.

There is ample literature to authenticate that there were certain unsupervised locations within the school campus where a younger student could be more subjected to violence than others, thus resource officers need consider stricter enforcement of administration in these areas, viz., school corridors and playground. Firstly, the beginning of the teen years is a midway period during which young teenaged children become physically overactive and often manifest asocial conduct.

Secondly, during this period, many middle school students initially meet peer group members belonging to different ethic and social backgrounds, thus arousing their curiosity, and also animosity, at times.

Suburban schools in particular are the focal point of this study as numerous researchers reveal certain distinctiveness of violent teenagers like low-income groups, students languishing due to family disintegration, psychological stress, disharmony between family members, all of which are seen as common phenomenon in suburban settings. However the problem is not restricted within this context as many stable schools are also facing problems with crimes being committed by teenagers (Furlong, 2005). However the extension and variation of violence in suburban schools is very different from others settings, in that many majority students within suburban school setups believe that violence rates within their schools are escalating; the same study also reports that majority suburban schools have experienced significant increase in violence during fifty years or so..

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There is need to provide citizens with an original form of government that offers equality in form of justice and absence of discrimination. The presence of racism in many societal pervades workplace, school, health care and housing. It is indeed very perplexing to believe that racial segregation is perpetrated to exert dominance of one culture over another. It could be summarized that racism is the result of having negative judgments, beliefs, and feelings toward certain identifiable groups (Waldron, 2009). There are reasons to believe that racism based discriminatory approaches are leading to violence in recent times and it can be identified that about 70% of school violence is fundamentally racial (Cornell, 2006).

This case study would analyze the problems associated with the use of resource officers within suburban school structures especially when dealing with potential threats and challenges of violence amongst teens within schools. This case study would also need to include resource officers within its scope of study through interviews to assess the problem and suggest ways and means by which these could be overcome through deployment of counter attack strategies and methods.

Statement of the Problem

The earlier defined environment for schools being safe havens for children no longer exists as the more and more parents now fear that their children are exposed to different categories of violence within schools grounds (Waldron, 2009). This rising concern amongst parents has led many administrators to try and figure out a strategy that could be helpful not only in the short term but also be helpful for the future. Gang violence and racist crimes have plagued schools for years whether it was studied the 1970s and 1980s or studied in the 21st century.

The entire situation adds a very detrimental impact on the society in the long run. These elements of discrimination would continue to grow in future once the sufferers of such discrimination enter the society. There would be a negative approach towards other races and it would disrupt the balance of the society in the long run (Johnson, 2009). Moreso, tragedies caused by killing sprees like the kind witnessed during the Columbine carnage provoked demands for enforcement action towards preventive and pro-active action to prevent its future occurrences within school campuses in the United States.

Resource officers are involved daily with administrators, students, and parents and hence have the opportunity to observe many different situations which they can then adapt to and transform so that the children and teenagers understand them to instead of being frustrated by them (Larson, 2005). The hiring criteria of resource officers need to be set at a high parallel as they would be required to be adept at working with a variety of people with different personalities. Because of this work, resource officers will need to have access to important information and likely hold distinctive perspectives (Waldron, 2009).

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Despite the concern about suburban middle school violence, there is a lack of research on suburban middle school resource officers. In the absence of such research, it would be useful to examine how these resource officers perceive their duties, as well as to gather their recommendations to suburban middle school principals for improving the school learning climate.

The purpose that needs to be addressed in this qualitative study is to identify the factors that result in the increasing violence in suburban middle schools. The fundamental problem of the research is to seek the assistance of school resource officers to reduce the incidence and impact of campus violence. Thus, it would be interesting to look at resource officers to see if discrimination plays a role in violence, and what they can offer as support. Violence generally stems from a certain group of students.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this qualitative case study is to investigate the roles and responsibilities of school resource officers to minimize school violence within the environment of suburban middle schools. (Denmark, 2005). The task of a school resource officer is indeed onerous and “The SRO is specifically trained to perform three roles: law enforcement officer; law-related counselor; and law-related education teacher” (School resource officer, n.d., para.2).

Qualitative research is almost always stated as a process with interpretative standards along with the various actions of theoretical assumptions. This definition can be based on its sustainable nature which highly depends on the experience of an individual concerning communication. It can also be taken into account that the entire definition considers the fact that social formulations are responsible for the creation of reality (Cornell, 2006).

The method of the researcher will be to gather information through the use of interviews of 11 – 15 resource officers assigned to three selected suburban middle schools along with analysis of selected case studies. Interviews of 11- 15 resource officers would be suitable as it is not a very large number to handle and it is, at the same time, not a small number to make it an inadequate study in the size of subject population. These interviews will provide an in-depth assessment at the factual responsibilities of resource officers and better idea of the evaluation of the issue of violence and carry out these responsibilities effectively.

Research Questions

What roles do resource officers have in reducing violence in schools by identifying and reducing such kinds of violence in school campuses?

Their roles co-exist based on the fact that there could be also other useful associated strategies for reducing violence, that complement use of SRO’s like monitoring activities of children prone to violence, segregating violent students, etc. punishment and segregation, etc. Such students need to realize that violence in any manifestation would not be tolerated under any circumstances.

Certain sections of student community in suburban schools display marked predisposition towards acts of violence and this has gained prominence in recent times, including the carrying of firearms into school premises and, more significantly, the general lack of concern shown by the school administration in ensuring strong discipline among the student community in this regard. Perhaps law enforcement authorities has borne testimony to wanton and indiscriminate shooting within school premises in recent years, killing and maiming in large numbers, apparently without justifiable reasons. It is imperative that SRO’s, in their role as law enforcement officers within school premises, do whatever they could to avoid recurrences of such appalling acts and also bring perpetrators ( if they could) before the due process of law. Preventive action is more critical than reactive action.

SRO’s share major responsibilities to ensure that acts of campus violence are eradicated, as far as is practically possible. This is perhaps the reason why they may be more aptly referred to, as police on campus, rather than campus police, since their jobs are more of a regulatory, or preventive kind than punitive.

The complimentary or secondary research questions that will guide this study as follows:

  1. How do resource officers view their responsibilities towards striving to achieve a violence- free regime in suburban middle schools?
  2. How do resource officers identify their roles about manifest violent inclinations exhibited by students and help formulate a strategy or method to stop such violence?
  3. What are the central perspectives that resource officers need to enforce to reduce the scale and occurrences of violence and help maintain safe school environment?

This study’s findings will serve as a baseline for further examinations of resource officers’ attitudes, and behavior towards their responsibilities within the suburban school. This study will also provide an overview of the recommendations from resource officers concerning school environments and academic standings (Cornell, 2006). In the present context, the educational framework is besieged with a plethora of issues, like budgetary financial allocations and spending, providing sufficient academic and empirical education, and also escalating violence and targetization of fellow students during the past twenty years or so.

Protracted school violence forces parents of wards to remove their wards from such schools, thus reducing their incomes and also making them susceptible to expensive lawsuits. Moreover, if it is a government funded institution, these lacks of controls could translate into lowered budgetary financial allocations in future. This is why it is also a burning business issue

Definition of Key Terms

This section of the paper will focus on explaining the general terms that will be used regularly throughout the paper and are part of the research questions for this qualitative study.

In the sphere of this literature review, resource officers could be defined to be student counselors and guides who review matters which are, albeit beyond the jurisdiction of basic academics, are, nevertheless within the ambit of law. A Resource officer simply means a supervisor and counselor whose main task will be to guide students away from violent activities towards more constructive activities like sports, arts, pursuit of higher learning.

The resource officers will also serve as policing personnel who are part of the administration so that the students feel comfortable talking and interacting with the resource officer. Furthermore, this stance will allow the resource officer to be a buffer between the educators and the students (ADA County Sheriff’s Officer, 2009).

Suburban School: Suburban schools and their environment are defined by the suburban societies. The suburban societies or suburbs are usually the explained as the smaller communities that are formed at the outer borders of a city. Usually suburbs are made up of detached or dysfunctional family setups with single parents. The overall population in the suburbs is a lot lower than that of the city which they surround. Hence, the suburban schools will exist in such circumstances sand will in turn have characteristics such as: students from low income rate family, low-paying job opportunities, limited government funds and resources, poor security, diversity of culture and discriminations amongst other things

Violence

The threat or use of physical force to cause physical injury, damage, or intimidation of another person (Pinker, 2007).

Political influence. Political influence for this study will be defined as the overall impact that activities and observations of the resource officers will have on their overall ability to formulate policies of schools that they are working in, in the long and short term and how these changing policies will be used within the school structure not only to improve overall school environment but also to reduce the level of violence, or crimes committed.

Brief Review of the Literature

The main idea behind this review is to set the facts in its proper perspective to offer the best recommendations to this vexed issue of campus violence.

According to Johnson (2009), the statistics gained from findings of a study conducted by the California Safe Schools Coalition gives reason to believe that 7.5% of middle and high school students based in California, which amounts to more than 2000 students per year, are exposed to some form of violence (Johnson, 2009).

Again Cornell 2006 thinks that study will contribute to societal and academic business data by providing important, current and new (if and wherever possible) information and theories about the tasks and responsibilities of the suburban middle school administrators, resource officers and parents as well as the overall input that the community can give towards decreasing violence and crimes within school structures (Cornell, 2006).

Denmark 2005 opines that it is also important to declare that qualitative research targets the social context so that we can describe interpret and even decode the fundamental importance of such a phenomenon (Denmark, 2005).

McGreevy 2005 believes that one of the most difficult situations is in gathering data regarding use of firearms in educational premises since school violence, although generally decreasing in the United States, is under-reported in many schools, according to a new report from the Reason Foundation. School crime data are largely out of range and incidences of violence often suppressed (McGreevy, 2005, para.3)

In his research study, Magnuson 2009 believes that taking the case of Columbia school resource officers made 217 arrests and reports during the 2007-08 school year. The most arrests, 55, were at Oakland Junior High School.

Though Columbia middle schools have seen a decline in arrest and reports the past three years, Lange Middle School had the maximum number of arrests in a year with 59 in the 2005-06 school years. (Magnuson, 2009).

According to Denmark 2005, this study will document the resource officers’ recommendations for improving safe learning environment. (Denmark, 2005).

Waldron 2009 believes that racism also plays a predominat part in school campus. (Waldeon 2009). Violence and cold blooded murders although ironically, there have been no prejudices in their choice of victims, and who have been randomly dispatched with neither remorse nor contrition. It is necessary that joint action committees need to be enforce discipline within schools under the superintendence, direction and control of the administrative governing bodies along with SRO playing major role and responsibilities to maintain law and order within its precincts.

Studies conducted by Kaplan and Owings, reputed researchers seem to be unanimous on the need to adopt evaluation of the significance of resource officer in controlling violence as the focal point of study. This particular method is a tried out technique in many schools to prevent crimes and violence as it shows promising signs of not only reducing violence but also creating an academic environment that promotes learning, discussions, collaborations and healthy interactions amongst students with different backgrounds. (Kaplan & Owings, 2006).

Suburban middle school resource officers are in a better position understand information-gathering locations within schools. Under law, it is illegal for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has sensible cause to infer, is within “a school zone” (922. unlawful acts, n.d.).

Kurt Koffka, a psychologist from Gestalt, in his analyses early in the 1900s explained that while the groups of students are vibrant and energetic, the interdependence, characters and attitudes of and/or between the group members is diverse and inconsistent (Nucci & Narvaez, 2008). In a similar study, the researcher explained that interdependence created from having similar objectives becomes the sole reason of existence for the group and allows that group to act as an integrated unit to develop a positive structure of character, principles and personalities within the group. Since all groups are interrelated, even minor changes in one unit could have a rippling effect on other constituents throughout the group.

It should be noted that personal networking helps product managers in leading their cross-functional product team. Personal networking could be defined as the practice of maintaining and developing a personal network that is beneficial in launching global products by stretching the established conceptions of teamwork outside our direct peer group. This improves productivity and is attempted over an extended period. Being well connected improves our effectiveness and we can launch new products faster.

The main communication barriers are lack of empathy, physical disconnection between the receiver and sender, hindrance in transmission of message, inadequate or shortage of effective attention in word selection, incorrect mental outlook, and choice of unsuitable media, inadequate feedback and noise barrier. To overcome the difficulty in selecting proper words we should always use familiar, concrete and single words that are short and simple to understand. To overcome the mental block the sender should not be arrogant, should not rationally assume the message and should not have any strong emotions, self-interests or misconceptions. Noise barrier can be overcome if we can identify its source.

Managing up could be defined to mean those efforts and supports that help to build teams and render consistency in work units. It helps a team to get interested in their work, take more responsibilities and work for longer hours. It humanizes our workplace as employers and employees realize that both care for each other. Managing up helps a team as it makes us realize what the team leaders are looking for and what matters most to these leaders because they are accountable for the actions of other members of the team. It is believed that positive and negative stands could be taken as per the teams’ view making the leader realize that we are focused on the needs of the team. Being curious and suggesting ideas to the leaders will help us improve ourselves. The team members become more responsible in solving their problems thus, filling the holes in the team and are also able to bring out their abilities.

Horizontal communication is the exchange of information among the functional units or departments by coordinating their basic activities. To coordinate the efforts of the team members at same levels of a firm horizontal communication is important. It is more efficient as information does not flow from top levels to the bottom levels of a team or vice verse but in a horizontal manner. Thus, it increases the effectiveness of communication.

Culture surely affects communication of a team and thus, should begin right at the top with the leadership team. Without proper culture in a team we will not be able to trust and be open with our leaders and team members. The team will not be strong and cooperative with each other. It also brings about higher morals and improves our productivity and customer care services. It establishes better communication among the various levels and interdepartmental sections of an organization. It encourages people to speak up and be more participating in the products of the team. The cultural change cognitive process also helps to plan and manage the basic human side of our workplace. Innovative communication to keep the management and team members informed about the project, its due dates and various launch activities could be achieved through the following communication styles:

  • Self-Talk or Intra-personal Communication
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Listening to team members and leaders
  • Feedback
  • Maintaining a small group
  • Non-verbal Communication
  • Public Speaking
  • Asking right questions
  • Intercultural communication patterns
  • Organizational communication system

Thus, it would be better for resource officers to apply all these means of communication and yield the best possible result in the context of violence in school.

Add to this is the fact of weapon carrying by school children which poses a grave threat to fellow students and teachers. “In 2005, 19 percent of students in grades 9-12 reported they had carried a weapon anywhere, and about 6 percent reported they had carried a weapon on school property“ (Schools against violence everywhere: Facts and figures, n.d., para.26).

Hence, to conclude, this paper will thus focus on the attitudes of resource officers towards implementing character education programs as well as other academic setups in suburban elementary settings to counter the growing concern about safety and the universal threat of violence in suburban schools. This study will analyze the overall approach that most resource officers currently have when implementing these necessary education programs. All of the aspects discussed in this paper are discussed from the point of views of the resource officers on the current situation of the programs being implemented to counter violence and their responsibilities within these programs as well as the efficient or successful steps that are being implemented and can be improved upon in the future.

Measurement Assessment

Qualitative method

The term ‘Qualitative research’ is widely used in the context of expressing investigative studies in matters connected with ethnic behaviour, natural conduct and beliefs, social sciences relating to mankind or studies arising out results of observation. This genre of research highlights the importance of taking a look at variables in light of the inherent backgrounds in which they are to be found. Interaction amongst the variables is significant in this regard. Comprehensive information is collected using open ended queries that present direct references. The researcher, questionnaire designer or the interviewer constitutes a very fundamental component of the investigation process. This approach diverges from those adopted in quantitative research techniques which make efforts to collect data by objective routines to facilitate analysis and present information on the issues of relations, comparisons, and forecasts and attempts to do away with the role of the investigator from the process of investigation (Banyard 2005).

The primary purpose of this qualitative research study is to understand the resource officers’ view of a particular issue and their idea of formulating a method to eradicate violence. Qualitative researches purport a holistic description. In the process of conducting qualitative researches, the researchers aspire to procure an overall or complete picture. A holistic description of proceedings, incidents, and philosophies taking place in its inherent background is frequently required to facilitate precise situational decisions. This is at variance as compared to quantitative research approaches in which carefully chosen, pre-defined variables are examined. Corroboration is an important aspect of qualitative research approaches. The rationale underlying corroboration is not to validate whether the people’s opinion are accurate or factual representation of a particular situation but somewhat to make sure that the research discoveries truthfully echo the people’s viewpoint, irrespective of what they are.

Research design

This particular research material makes use of the survey technique with a carefully designed questionnaire as the data collection instrument supplemented by a draft policy to carry out a qualitative assessment of the responses. The primary fieldwork carried out would be a survey conducted across the various sections of the construction industry. The research field work timeline would be spanned 4 months across which the extensive survey was carried out. The fundamental data collecting instrument was a carefully designed open questionnaire which was meticulously designed to procure the views of the respondents about a conscious sustainable violence management strategy and thereby analysing the role of Resource Officers in the process of violence management.

The questionnaire would gather background information on the respondents profile and specifically inquired about whether the opinions expressed were personal or represented the standpoint of an organization. In case the views expressed were from an organizational point of view, the information about the profile of the organization would be collected or else demographic information about the respondent would be collected. This would be done to keep a provision for later analysis of demographic or profile oriented analysis of the information collected.

Business models

Resource officers being studied are themselves the independent business models in this study, or perhaps more accurately the various aspects of these resource officers’ jobs and their better formulation of method that would help them reduce violence and develop their duty and effectiveness. These traits have been shown not only to be highly influential in the area of school safety in both urban and suburban schools, but also highly variegated among resource officers both individually and in different communities (Black, 2009; ). Existing methods of establishing the credibility and validity of these variables include detailed questionnaires and the examination of official job descriptions, obtained from the resource officers themselves, school and district administrators, and several government agencies. The consistency among the definitions in these studies provides a great deal of certainty and reliability in these constructs, and provides sufficient data for comparison.

These qualitative changes in the context of the proposed study, are the dependent variables, and are believed to be influenced by the various responsibilities and perspectives of the resource officer—this study aims to determine the specifics and the extent of the relationship between these sets of variables, and established methods exits in these studies for such determinations.

Other aspects, including drug use and other disciplinary problems in schools, are tangentially related to the question at hand as dependent aspects, and these issues are also more easily made into quantified data through statistical tools enforced by law enforcement agencies, school districts, disparate schools, and states. Psychometric analysis of the quantified data will take place according to standard and relatively straightforward statistical techniques; adjustments for school location, size, and income level—all established influences on rates of school violence—will be made according to previously established guidelines in relevant research and the general field of statistical analysis. In this way, valid comparisons between schools who possess, and those who do not possess resource officers, and schools that do or do not make use of the services of resource officers, while controlling extraneous variable in as much as it is possible to do so.

The greatest difficulty in establishing the validity, consistency, and reliability of these results will be in the necessary comparisons drawn between the quantitative and qualitative data, which though one of the last steps of the research process is also that which most directly answers the research question. Some methods for such comparison have already been established, but this will in large part require the quantification of qualitative data so the statistical comparisons can be made

Data collection and analysis

All these changeable factors are considered as very relevant and important aspects and it is to be seen if these aspects are fundamentally acceptable in practical world and it could well be mentioned that education are a very relevant manifestation of the social dimensions. As a result, if the test is carried out properly with proper calculations of the population involved then there is no reason that the results would be both logical and true at the end consideration. Though it is a qualitative method, opinions of the patients would be recorded and formulated to ascertain visible trends related to the research issue.

However, it should be taken into contention that to obtain such goals in finding legitimate and verified answers substantial and thorough research should be operated in a far larger scale. For example, for interactions away from desk, the first and foremost variable required is to find out the exact location of occurrence. Thus, regular visits to the educational institutes are needed. Further, the need for changes in the pattern of occurrences, the ways through which talks are introduced and concluded and the method by which members open and agree on talks need to be analysed.

Another test prediction is about frequency. Constant interfacing is conducted to gain familiarity with each other. It is thus believed that constant interfacing to manifest lower procedures in the beginning and ending exchanges as well as lesser need for setting of scope of research study. This would make it possible to get the perfect insight the issues of the research.

Conclusions

There are empirical evidences to justify that school violence is on the decrease in most schools but that is not to suggest that it has been eliminated. Many schools in the United States have school violence records, and are thus highly unsafe for students. It is incumbent on the part of parents to be able to distinguish which schools are safe for their wards and which are not. In the event there are reasons to believe that students’ health and well being are compromised in some school settings, it is necessary for their parents to immediately seek transfer of their wards to safer and secure schools.

In retrospect, it could be said that the work of the resource officers in suburban schools is an interesting, albeit onerous one. For one thing, their main objective is to resuscitate discipline and good conduct among students, eschew violence and socially repugnant activities among the student community and usher in a vendetta-free and harmonious co-existence among them. A tall order, by any given set of standards. For one thing, ROs would need to draw heavily from their knowledge, experience and teaching acumen, and for another, it needs to be customized and enforced on a case-to-case basis, measured and induced by the demands of the situation. However, standard templates are forthcoming, which could address what to do under which set of circumstances, though legislation and school specific laws. The support of local authorities and school administration, a district and county level are of paramount need, especially since student community are a law onto themselves and any intrusion into these domains could be viewed not only with circumspection but also with defiance retributive actions. RO need to strike a harmonious balance between the need of the hour and the urge to uphold cherished values, traditions and above all, the demand to uphold ethical and disciplinary measures above everything else. Student power does give them a license to flout common laws, least of all the ones that endanger the lives and personal health and safety of innocent students, whose only fault perhaps would have been that they shared a common classroom, or playground with the senseless and callous perpetrators of student violence of a capricious and hedonistic nature. The fact that RO can and should stand up against violence and bloodshed of this kind is enough support for innocent fellow students, and more importantly, a powerful deterrent for present and potential offenders of a mild or worse kind.

ROs need to assume crime fighting powers that could allow them to become marshals of the lawless- on perpetrators of student violence whose underlying cause perhaps, stems not from any innate grievances, but just a bid to capture headlines in a local newspaper that allows them to become famous.

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