Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Michael Hayes


The purpose of this study was to determine how middle school students, parents, teachers, and community members perceived acts of violence. It focused indirectly on how a small community was impacted following a hostage situation. The theoretical framework for this study draws from the theories of violence as described by Aisenberg and Ell, Canady, Gottfredson and Hirschi, and Miller. In this qualitative study the research questions focused on perceptions of school violence acts and potential influences' on the participants in this study. The participants consisted of 6 middle school students, 4 middle school parents, 4 school officials, and 4 community members. The results of the interviews were analyzed using a color-coded system to find patterns within each group. These patterns were then compared to determine similarities and differences. Four common themes emerged from the interviews: (a) the main causes of school violence were bullying, substance abuse, low socioeconomic level, and a bad home environment, (b) peer pressure and lack of communication were perceived to lead to school violence, (c) the most frequent occurring acts of school violence were fighting, arguing, teasing, and hitting (d) the most serious acts of school violence were holding people against their will, fighting, and bullying. Findings confirmed that a difference emerged within three of the groups pertaining to who was to be held responsible for the safety of students. As a result of random acts of violence, two beneficial changes occur. First, the adult community is forced to collaborate and communicate about a topic never experienced before. Second, the students learn to rely on each other for support. Social change implications include changes in county policies and practices by establishing new measures related to school safety that protects school children.