"Everybody Violent": Conceptualizations of Violence within a Secondary School in Trinidad and Tobago
By: Hakim Mihandas Amani Williams
Published: 05/16/2012
Uploaded: 11/08/2017
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2012 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: Conceptualization, Trinidad and Tobago, violence

Description/Abstract: This qualitative case study examined the conceptualizations of school violence, its influences and interventions at a secondary school in Trinidad and Tobago (TT). Despite being noted as a high-income non-OECD country, TT has one of the highest homicide rates in the world per capita; schools have also experienced a corollary increase in violence. Some of the literature on violence prevention refutes the efficacy of one-size-fits-all approaches, instead favoring contextualized solutions, and thus compelling this seven-month-long case study. The school, a product of post-independence educational expansion, is nationally stigmatized for its academic failures and violent notoriety and features many students from poor communities. Nine focus groups or class discussions were undertaken with a total of 84 students, and 33 individual interviews were conducted with teachers, administrators, deans, safety officers, the guidance counselor, and Ministry of Education officials. Findings from this study indicate that conceptualizations of school violence inscribe youth as the main analytic unit while occluding many instances of adult-to student violence. This discursive/ representational violence highlights a focus on direct violence, while omitting a more critical interrogation of structural violence.

The varied influences on violence offered by respondents support the social-ecological framework that theorizes school violence as a nexus of myriad influences.
However, while respondents blamed homes and communities as the major contributors to school violence, student conceptualizations demonstrated a focus on gendered performances and jealousy/ materialism, omitting an interrogation of more macro factors. In framing interventions as either negative or positive peace-oriented, analyses revealed most of the interventions used at this school were of the former type. However,
positive peace-oriented interventions accounted for more than half of respondents’
“ideal” interventions, indicating that perhaps under the right conditions, respondents would be inclined to employ more positive peace-oriented solutions. Within the currently used repertoire of interventions, several teachers employed “praxes of care” to circumvent the more punitive options. The overall findings highlight those cultural post-colonial practices and processes that legitimize structural and direct violence, as well as the individualized and dehistoricized discourse on school violence in the Caribbean.