We are constantly reminded of the correlation between poverty and low academic achievement-but what role does a community's violence play in a student's academic success?
We are constantly reminded, in the news and in what we hear, see, and experience in some areas of Escambia county, that this area has pockets of neighborhoods that are violent. Murders happen, robberies, home invasions, and violent crime per 100,000 residents in Escambia County is higher than many big cities in our nation. Last week a convenience store clerk was murdered in cold-blood in the middle of the day. Another video that was played over and over recently showed a large man reach over a counter and violently sucker-punch a petite, pregnant clerk--so a cell phone and a minimal amount of cash could be stolen. Crime is bad in some areas in particular.
So what impact is all this violence locally having on our schools?
In a series of scholarly articles found on the National Institutes of Health website, the case is being made that academic and behavioral issues in some students in some schools are a result of the violence in these communities, and the cumulative effect this has on developing children is dramatic.
Several studies, including one in particular that looked at students in Chicago and the proximity of their residences in relation to locations of violent crime, indicate that increased violence can negatively impact test scores. In the Chicago study, those students who lived closer to where violent crimes had occurred showed diminished performance on English Language Arts assessments. (Interestingly, there was no statistically significant difference in Math scores).
From the article
"Community violence exposure has been associated with attentional impairment, declines in cognitive performance (Saltzman 1996; Singer et al. 1995) and declines in school achievement (Bell and Jenkins1991). These academic difficulties have been suggested to result from lowered concentration levels due to distracting and intrusive thoughts concerning violent events that may accumulate over time and with repeated exposure (Bell 1997; Horn and Trickett 1998; Taylor et al. 1997)"
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