He also states that peripheral interventions, such as rules and laws, posting the Ten Commandments, surveillance cameras, and other means are nor sufficient as they do not deal with the root causes of the violence. (Aronson p. 64).The basic reality is that many students at high schools feel alienated and lonely and have a perception that they are being prejudice against unfairly. This is a reality that can no longer be ignored and the book makes substantial inroads into ways of dealing with these problems.
It is also interesting to note that other surveys and studies tend to confirm Aronson's assessment of the number of lonely and alienated students in our schools. For examples, the Search Institute's 1996 survey of 100,000 middle and high school students supports Aronson's depiction of the unfriendly environment in too many schools. In this survey as few as twenty-four percent of the students who were questioned saw their schools as a caring and understanding environment. (Robinson)
Another extremely important aspect of this book is that the author states that policy makers and educational authorities need to reassess and revise the education system from the point-of-view of the growth of violent behavior patterns. There should for instance be a greater focus on the emotional life of the students, and not just on academic achievement. Possibly the most important advice that the author provides is that there should be a greater emphasis on compassion and understanding in our schools. Teachers should also focus on teaching students about empathy and conflict resolution and more effort should be made to deal with the fundamental causes, such as the pervasiveness of school bullying. Bullying in fact was one of the central facets noted as a motivating factor in the Columbine killings. In short, Aronson pleads for a greater awareness and effort from teachers and administrators of schools to construct educational programs that offer students common goals that can be used to reduce animosity and alienation. (Aronson p. 64)
The book also points to the role of teacher in changing the sense of alienation and perceived unfairness among students that can lead to violent actions, such as Columbine. The author notes that if teachers promote extreme competition and bias in the classroom, then this can lead to feelings of disenfranchisement and exclusion from the culture of the school. Therefore, the onus is to a great extent rests with the teacher to adjust their teaching methods accordingly. There is also an emphasis on cooperative teaching and classes.
This book is a laudable and praiseworthy attempt to open up the debate about the central causes of the Columbine massacre and by implication to address the growing problem of violence in schools. However, I also feel that this problem has roots that are more extensive and pervasive in nature than just schools. Studies that investigate the way that violence has become an endemic part of our culture and society also need to be included in an assessment of the causes and the reasons for extreme school violence. In other words, aspects such as the part that the media plays and the normalization and acceptance of violence in our culture have to be taken into account in understanding this serious problem. This also relates to the larger problem of alienation in America and the "loser" syndrome that has become such a part of popular culture.
Therefore, in conclusion and in the final analysis, Aronson's work is an important investigation of the real causes of aggression at school level and among adolescents. This book is extremely valuable in the way that it assesses the problem and in the solutions that it offers. However, this research needs to be expanded on and should include a broader scope of issues and problem that cause and precipitate school violence in the society.
Aronson, Elliot. Nobody Left to Hate. New York: Owl Books. 2001.
Brinson, J.A., Kottler, J.A., & Fisher, T.A. (2004). Cross-Cultural Conflict Resolution in the Schools: Some Practical Intervention Strategies for Counselors. Journal of Counseling and Development, 82(3), 294+.
Robinson V. Nobody Left to Hate: Teaching Compassion after Columbine.
Anglican Theological Review, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3818/is_200110" Fall 2001. November 7, 2007. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3818/is_200110/ai_n8958078