Nearly everyone has either witnessed or has been directly involved in a school fight. Suddenly the hallway is abuzz with excitement, students start to shuffle for a good spot to view the action, and someone yells out the announcement, "fight!" Fighting is an unfortunate reality in many schools. Although rates of school violence are on the rise, fighting is hardly a new development. For centuries, students have gotten into altercations that resulted in bumps, bruises and a very angry principal. Although school fights are common, some still wonder why they occur. Every fight is different, but some common causes do exist.

Differing Values

According to a recent Cato Institute study (See References 1), many school fights are caused by the forced mixing of students who come from different backgrounds and hold disparate core values. This study argues that the geographic zoning policies of schools contribute to violence, and in order to reduce the violence students should be allowed more choice in selecting their school.

Lack of Respect

School violence can be the result of a simple lack of respect for others. There has been a push in recent years to integrate value based lessons into the school curriculum. Many schools currently teach character education courses in an attempt to provide students who lack good role models with a basic knowledge of how they should interact with their peers and teachers.

Reputation Maintenance

Students often fight as a means of maintaining their reputations in their schools. Reputation is often seen as a precious commodity. If someone crosses a student who is concerned about his or her reputation, that student may feel forced to retaliate or risk being called weak and having his or her reputation damaged.

Pop Culture Influence

By the time they get to middle and high school, most students can discriminate reality from TV and movies, but in lower grades, this distinction is commonly a bit more fuzzy. Some young students engage in fights merely because they are replicating what they saw on TV or in a film. These students are simply trying to copy the tough guys or gals they so adore. Dr. Adele M. Brodkin reported on this phenomenon in a recent article in "Early Childhood Today." She called on educators and parents to have frank discussions with students regarding pop culture influences, in an effort to reduce the number of incidents of violence that result from this type of mimicry.

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