What do we mean by “violence”?

Violence and the Violence Continuum

Webster’s II dictionary defines violence as physical force employed so as to violate, damage, or abuse, and abusive or unjust use of power.

Think about what the second part of the definition says: violence isn’t only physical force; it is also something much more subtle –an abuse of power. In healthy relationships, people share power and respect each others’ basic human rights.Violence destroys relationships.

Violence exists on a continuum ranging from subtle, hurtful acts to those more noticeable and physically harmful. This broad view of violence is necessary when we are talking about schools where children have little or no power to remove themselves if they find the climate uncomfortable or threatening. Students are a captive audience; they cannot get up and leave.

So as we explore how to create a safe school climate, keep in mind that violence is physical force, emotional torment, social isolation, and abuse of power designed to intimidate, dominate, or inflict pain on another person.

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