05 SES 07, Urban Children and Youth at Risk & Urban Education
Quite diverse, the Educational Priority Areas (EPA) in Portugal have a common denominator, besides the issues related to school abandonment and failure, which is a special concern with situations of violence and school indiscipline. In schools existing in contexts that present high levels of social exclusion, for example, due to the high number of students who receive support from the Student Welfare, there are additional resources to help develop strategies aimed at diminishing the high number of occurrences that disturb the school order. As part of a project developed by the Portuguese Ministry of Education intended to accompany and monitor the activities held at the EPA, we have tried to understand the effects of measures implemented to combat school violence in three groups of schools located in the metropolitan area of Lisbon. It is our aim, in this paper, to account the polysemy that characterizes the concept of violence and the diversity of representations detected in each school to evaluate to which extent the intervention strategies that have been analyzed are considered sufficient to counter this phenomenon. The conceptual distinctions allow us to relativize the extent of violence in these schools, at least in which concerns the performance of students against the school adults. The symbolic violence that the school practices on students who are not socialized in the cultural codes of higher education will also be absent from this debate. However the violence that teachers feel, as they have internalized a set of rules of organization and school order that is far from the representations of the young students, is felt in their conceptions about situations of school disorder. We will focus on this matter because this is in the origin of the distance between objectively reported violence, and violence that has been subjectively perceived by the teachers. If, in a conceptual level, most of the students’ actions should not be mistaken by behaviours of school violence, from the teachers’ point of view they are perceived as extremely disturbing behaviours, with very negative effects in the school context. If we think about the effects the accumulation of transgressive behaviour has on the degradation of the school environment, Debarbieux (2006) suggests the concept of "micro-violence" to define the set of acts that disrupt the school order, not because they are violent in themselves but because their effects turn out to be violent. Thus, we will equate to which extent schools give importance to how teachers feel and deal daily with those effects and recognize the leeway that, nonetheless, possess to deal with conflict situations they face. Given the multitude of factors that can trigger violence and noting that the diagnosis and subsequent measures developed are only addressed to students and the socio-cultural context that surrounds them, we will point out the importance of considering, in terms of intervention, the organizational and pedagogic factors and we will propose the development of initiatives aimed at the collective work among teachers and between these and the school boards.
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