As with schools and families, communities can neglect children. If the communities are not responsive to the needs of families and their children, this neglect can develop into school violence. After-school and summer programs are not always available. A child who starts acting violently will often do so during periods of unstructured and unsupervised time. Juvenile-justice statistics show that, lacking after-school supervision, youth violence rises to above average rates between 3 and 7 p.m. School violence has also been linked to the transformation of communities. Constantly shifting school demographics often reflect larger upheavals as communities undergo changes in size, economic well-being, and racial and ethnic mix.
Although our culture expects the family to deal with childhood problems, contemporary society makes it difficult for parents to meet all their children’s needs. The current economy, for example, often demands that both parents work; more children are raised by single parents including teenage mothers; and some children are subjected by their parents to neglect or physical, sexual, and substance abuse. Ideally, parents nurture and reinforce positive behavior. When parents fail to do so, children may develop negative–and often violent–behavior patterns. In addition, neglectful or abusive family environments can inhibit the development of communication skills; self-esteem can be seriously damaged. In homes where positive behavior is not the norm, exposure to violence through popular culture may have a more profound impact.
Regardless of family and community dependence on schools to educate, shelter, and discipline their children, most schools have difficulty playing multiple roles as educators, surrogate parents, social service, or law-enforcement agencies.