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The Influence of School Violence on Educational Outcomes of Students in Selected Secondary Schools in Buea Municipality

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This study titled ‘The Influence of School Violence and Educational Outcomes of Students in Selected Secondary Schools in Buea Municipality” was aimed at investigating the extent to which school violence influence educational outcomes of students in selected secondary schools in the Buea Municipality.

The research design used was a descriptive survey research design. A sample of 300 students was selected from three different secondary schools using the simple random sampling technique and the purposive sampling technique.

The research instrument used was a questionnaire for students which were in closed and open ended respond format. To answer these research questions, questionnaires were administered to the 343 respondents and 300 were considered usable, the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 23.0 was used to compute the data.

Result showed that, after the analysis of research question 1, majority 75% agreed to the fact that they were victim of physical violence in school, in this light physical violence is seen as a negative predictor for student’s educational outcomes.

After the analysis of research question two, revealed that majority (73%) of the respondents sampled agreed to the question items which implied verbal violence was at a maximal state since majority of the respondents had an agreeing view with regards to the subject and if manifested it will have a significant negative effect on the educational outcomes of the victim.

After, the presentation and analysis of research question three,  revealed that majority (78%) of the respondents sampled agreed to the question items which made the researcher to conclude that to a greater extent emotional violence in the form isolation,  stress have a significant negative effect on students educational outcomes.

Following the study the following recommendations were made; Teachers and parents should also consider the choice of word they used on students and the type of behavior they exhibit because such reactions may be demotivating students emotionally without been aware.

counsellors should constantly sensitized students on the negative effect of deviance behaviour like bullying, intimidation, of all sort and made students to be aware of the risked involved in either physical, emotional, and verbal violence.




This chapter is a presentation of the background and problem of the study. It therefore focuses on the background of the study, statement of the problem, objectives of the study, research questions, hypotheses, significance of the study, scope of the study and operational definition of terms.

Background of the study

Violence against children is a global problem. It includes physical violence, emotional violence such as insults and humiliation, discrimination, neglect and maltreatment. It has short and long-term repercussions that are often grave and damaging for children (Pinheiro, 2006).

Bullying, verbal violence, accidental violence, discrimination and violence, sexual assault or harassment, physical violence and emotional violence, describe some of the most prevalent forms of school-based violence (South African Human Rights Commission 2006).

Historically, school violence is not a new concept (“Any Activity”, 2003). It has been documented as early as 1927 when Andrew Kehoe set bombs off at a school in Bath, Michigan. Kehoe killed himself and several others. In 1959, Paul Orgeron set off a bomb at a playground in Texas that killed himself along with teachers and students. 

School violence encompasses physical violence, including student-on-student fighting and corporal punishment; psychological violence, including verbal abuse; sexual violence, including rape and sexual harassment; many forms of bullying, including cyber bullying; and carrying weapons in school.

It is widely held to have become a serious problem in recent decades in many countries, especially where weapons such as guns and knives are involved.

It includes violence between school students as well as physical attacks by students on school staff (“Any Activity”, 2003). While school violence has likely existed as long as have schools, it is relatively recently that adults began to pay attention to the issue.

As more children have attended school, something that was far from given in centuries past, so too have there been more reported incidents of harassment, bullying, and assault by peers as well as by educators themselves, (Finley, 2014)

To craft effective prevention programs and responses to school violence, it is imperative that educators, lawmakers, and parents have a realistic understanding of the problem, (Finley, 2014).

One of the most challenging aspects of understanding school violence is obtaining accurate data about its scope, the context in which it occurs, and characteristics of perpetrators and victims. While these are seemingly straightforward concepts, they are often complex to measure.

One challenge lies in what, precisely, constitutes school violence. Although it is clear that acts of overt physical violence, such as punches, corporal punishment and assaults with weapons, should be considered school violence when they occur on school grounds, often violence occurs in subtler ways.

Violence can also be non-physical, as in the violence that occurs through racial or sexual harassment. A growing body of literature, however, shows that educators and administrators also perpetrate violence, both against their peers and against students.

Another area of research involves what is commonly called systemic violence. Systemic violence involves more than actions; rather, it includes structural arrangements and methods that result in harm, (Finley, 2014).

For instance, disciplinary policies that result in students being paddled (corporal punishment) have been considered by some to be examples of systemic violence.

Another challenge lies in precisely how we define what constitutes “school.” Why incidents occurring during the school day on school grounds can be easily classified as school violence, what about acts of cyber bullying between classmates?

In many cases, both the perpetrator and the victim are not on school grounds, but the bullying is related to school activities or relationships. Legally, schools are liable for any violence that results in an unsafe or ineffective school climate.

Conceptually, school violence is a type of bullying that occurs in an educational setting. School violence may be characterized by: an intention to harm, this intention suggest that the harm caused by violence is deliberate or non-accidental (Finley, 2014). Bullying causes the victim to suffer severe psychological, social, or physical trauma.

Violence is persistent; it happens more than once or has the potential to occur multiple times. Violence is proposed to be a part of progressive aggression and motivated by perceived benefits of their aggressive behavior (Finley, 2014).

Those individual students or group of students who are capable of reacting to initial violence attempts in ways that tend to sufficiently discourage potential bullies from repeated attempts are less likely to be drown into this destructive cycle.

Those individuals or groups who mostly readily react to stressful situations by perceiving themselves as victims tend to make the most suitable candidates for becoming the targets of chronic violence acts.

Finley (2014) argued that students who engage in violent behaviors seems to have a need to feel powerful and in control. They appear to derive satisfaction from inflicting injury and suffering on others, they seem to have little empathy for their victims, to break school rules and often defend their actions by saying that their victims provoked them in some way.

The most common type of school violence is physical violence. While there are many definitions of physical violence, most agree that it involve one or more persons trying to obtain power over another through the use of a variety of verbal, social, and physical techniques. Verbal bullying involves harassing, degrading, or threatening remarks.

Social bullying occurs when bullies attempt to use peer pressure, rumors, and gossip to demean and degrade victims (Finley, 2014). Physical bullying includes all types of unwanted physical contact, from pushing to slapping, to punching and more.

Some forms of bullying can also be categorized as assault, hazing, dating violence, and sexual assault. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS); between one-quarter and one-third of U.S. students reported being bullied.

The youth-focused organization (Do Something features bullying statistics) the statistics showed that some 3.2 million students are bullied each year; rates are highest for middle school youth, with an estimated 90 percent experiencing bullying.

Some 56 percent of students actually witness bullying in schools, and each month, 282,000 students report being physically attacked by a bully or bullies while on school grounds, (Finley, 2014).

Although dating violence occurs in a number of settings, given that youth spend a large proportion of their time in school, it inevitably occurs there as well. Essentially a form of bullying between dating partners, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), defines dating violence as physical, sexual, or psychological violence within a dating relationship.

An estimated 20 to 33 percent of teen relationships are abusive. Unlike adult domestic violence, studies have shown that boys and girls are almost equally likely to be victimized by dating partners.

Teachers and school personnel may be the perpetrators of what is often called systemic violence. Systemic violence is “any institutional practice or procedure that adversely impacts on individuals or groups by burdening them psychologically, mentally, culturally, economically, spiritually, or physically” (Epp and Watkinson, 1996).

Teaching methodologies that berate, demean, or stigmatize students and disciplinary practices that result in physical harm or emotional distress in excess of what would be considered normal are also examples of systemic violence (Finley, 2014).

Because they are perpetrated by those in power positions, these incidents and practices are generally not considered violent but instead are deemed normal and necessary for ensuring students’ safety. As such, there is little data to quantify the scope and extent of systemic violence in schools.

One practice that many consider to be an example of systemic violence is corporal punishment, or the intentional infliction of physical pain with the intent of altering problem in behavior.

Direct violence which include “teasing, and taunting, racial, ethnic and sexual harassment threatening, hitting and stealing” (Harris, Petrie and Willoughbym 2002) but indirect violence behaviors such as spreading rumors, socially excluding students and dirty in passive are much harder to catch or prove. Violence is a constant problem in schools today.

Theoretically, some theories will be used to explain the concept of school violence such as, the social learning theory of Albert Bandura which shows how children, model behaviours of others and puts it to practice.

The theory of psychosocial development by Erik Erikson, which focused on the developmental stage of humans and a critical discussion be place placed on Erikson’s fifth stage since it talked on adolescence. And also, the ecological system theory by Urie Bronfrenbrenner will be used to explain the relationship between students and their environments.

Contextually, the use of violence in Cameroonian (Protestant) schools is not accidental but seemingly rooted in the colonial history of Cameroon (Tangwe and Paul, 2009). Over time and space, this has been copied by those in authority as an easy way out for all deviant behavior especially in schools in Cameroon today.

“Corporal punishment of children is predicted by higher levels of social stratification and political integration, and long-term use of an alien currency”, (Ember and Ember, 2005).

Over the years, schools have prided themselves with quality education and the plethora of legislation against corporal punishment (Mumthass, Munavirr and Gafoor, 2014) despite the fact that corporal punishment by teachers and students was highly practiced.

The use of corporal punishment has been going on irrespective of the efforts of the Pedagogic In-Service Training Programme (ISTP) that has over the years from 1998−2000 organized training workshops against corporal punishment for teachers and administrators of Protestant schools.

Such punishment took the form of using the whip to beat the students on the buttocks and the palms of their hands or spanking with the intention of inflicting pains as a corrective measure for non-adequate behavior (Gershoff, 2002).

All these actions have not taken cognizance of the alternative to corporal punishment methods available (Straus and Paschall, 2009; Scheunpflug and Wenz, 2012) and rather paid heed to the theoretical base of corporal punishment (Ellison and Sherkat, 1993; Ember and Ember, 2005) with student and student leaders aping same with-out due consideration of its after effects on the victims.

Be that as it may, alternatives to corporal punishment measures (Agbenyega, 2006; Arnstein, 2009; Khewu, 2012) if well applied in the context of a school are a very useful instrument for discipline as those subjected to it almost always come to self-realization and a strengthening of the school climate positively and this can help to improve quality education standards (Straus and Paschall, 2009; UNESCO, 2000).

Besides the clear violation of human rights and children’s rights by violence in school and the foundation of the discourse of banning violence in the human rights perspective, the causal effect of the deviation from corporal punishment to alternatives to corporal punishment is rooted in the quality discourse (Straus  Paschall, 2009; NESCO, 2000) because education that is steeped in the application of violence through corporal punishment ends up derailing the perception of the beneficiaries and the society suffers.

In light of the foregoing, alternatives to corporal punishment remains a glaring tool or indicator to meet the UNESCO EFA goals especially in the Protestant schools and Cameroon in general because it leads to human rights, harmony and a better learning climate.

Statement of the Problem

Schools in the Buea Municipality have increasingly become arenas of violence amongst students and also between teachers and students interschool rivalries and gang conflict. . Apart from the serious incidents of school violence that have received wide media coverage, there is general concern regarding the increase in incidents of school violence in Cameroon.

Due to the high incidents of school violence, schools are no longer viewed as safe and secure environment where children can learn, enjoy themselves and feel protected.

Schools have become highly volatile and unpredictable places. Hence, violence has a part of everyday life in some schools. Hence, schools are no longer safe and secure environment where children can learn.

Academic success depends on a variety of factors and these factors can have both a positive and/or negative influence on a child’s ability to stay motivated and succeed in school. Children living in highly poverty and violent areas are mostly faced with challenges that hinder a positive educational outcome.

This study focused on the challenges posed by high rates environmental violence that potentially interfere with children’s adjustment and success in school.

Objectives of the Study        

Main Objective

The main objective is to investigate the extent to which school violence affects educational outcomes of students in selected secondary schools in Buea Municipality.

Specific Objectives   

  • To examine the extent to which physical violence influence educational outcomes of students in selected secondary schools in Buea Municipality.
  • To investigate the extent to which verbal violence affects educational outcomes of students in selected secondary schools in Buea Municipality.
  • To examine the extent to which emotional violence affects educational outcomes of students in selected secondary schools in Buea Municipality.

Research Questions

Main Research Question

How does school violence affect educational outcomes of students in selected secondary schools in Buea Municipality?

Non – Specific Research Questions 

How does physical violence influence educational outcomes of students in selected secondary schools in Buea Municipality?

To what extent does verbal violence affect educational outcomes of students in selected secondary schools in Buea Municipality?

In what way do emotional violence educational outcomes of students in selected secondary schools in Buea Municipality?

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