The term "school violence" can refer to any violence at any degree of severity that takes place in an educational institution. The most severe cases of school violence usually involve extreme actions such as shootings or knife attacks, while less severe but still traumatizing acts may involve bullying in the form of physical violence or even verbal violence. Many schools throughout the world now have programs in place to recognize and counteract school violence, though the occurrence of violent acts in schools remains an issue. Bullying is by far the most common form of school violence, and the various forms of bullying can make the practice difficult to recognize.
In the past, most people considered bullying to be defined as physical violence aimed at a weaker person, though the various forms of bullying may not always focus on physical actions. Verbal violence and even cyber-bullying in more recent times have become issues of school violence that can put a student at risk. Verbal violence may involve taunting a student, making threats toward the student, or alienating the student from regular school activities. Cyber-bullying has taken this concept to a new level, as bullies can use text messages, cell phones, and the Internet to further the bullying both inside and outside of school. While this is not a physical action, it is still considered bullying because it can have severe negative impacts on the student being bullied.
The most headline-grabbing incidences of school violence usually involve premeditated attacks on students and faculty. School shootings are the most common among such acts of school violence, and in several cases throughout the United States and the world, a student or students have brought guns and other weapons to school with the intention of harming or killing students and staff. Many schools and school districts have implemented strategies for reacting to such scenarios to enhance the safety of students, staff, and everyone else involved in such violence.
Hazing has historically been a school violence issue at all levels of educational institutions. Hazing is a practice in which a student is harassed, abused, or otherwise put at risk as a right of passage or initiation into a certain clique or team. Just about all schools have banned hazing as a practice, though it still frequently occurs. Gangs in schools have also taken up the practice, and very often the violence associated with gangs occurs to a much more severe degree.