Jack M, Reviewer
The Crisis of School Violence: A New Perspective by Marianna King is a very well researched and presented argument on ways to reign in school violence and, in fact, societal violence. Be patient while reading the first couple of chapters, they are laying the groundwork for the arguments and suggestions to follow. While they are slow dense reading, they are absolutely necessary for properly assessing what comes. The very broad case here is that unless the root causes of violence, namely social and economic injustice, are addressed future violence whether in schools or out will continue to rise. I think most readers will be hard pressed to disagree with this, especially after reading all of the research that supports this. It is, as is often the case, the details that become problematic and open for discussion. School structure and pedagogical methodology are areas where there can be a lot of agreement on what should be in place. Again, the problem is in getting from what we have now to where we can largely agree we should be. There are fewer concrete ideas for accomplishing this than I wanted to see in this book. Perhaps she never intended the book to be at least a bit prescriptive but her tone throughout much of it certainly led this reader to expect some concrete ideas rather than the usual abstract theoretical solutions that, while a great starting point, don't move us beyond that. If this is meant to be a starting point for those who will develop solutions, then the book is a success. If it was meant to start making progress, it is not a failure but not much of a success either. The violent gaming industry is a particularly difficult area on several levels. In a very broad sense the idea of censoring what people can do is a difficult thing for many of us to swallow. At the same time, there is plenty of evidence that the industry contributes a great deal to the general society of violence in which we live. Ultimately, one needs to feel sure it is a contributing at a foundational level and not simply as a symptom that then contributes. As some research she cites mentions about societies that were less violent, there were other outlets for the competitive and/or violent conflicts so that society could be cooperative and more peaceful. So, are video games really a large enough part of the foundation of our violent society or is it more a byproduct that might fade if society becomes more equitable? I think that there are far more pressing economic issues, far more ethnic and racial bigotry issues that are definitely foundational that warrant most of the attention we would otherwise use on gaming. If violent games were magically eliminated from the picture tomorrow, how much less violence would there be? What about magically removing social and economic inequities? I don't think the two are even remotely comparable, though the games are certainly the easier, or maybe less difficult, one to approach without having to make too many people confront their own parts in the other more pressing factors. This is well worth reading for both the wonderful bringing together of research findings as well as very clear explanations of how things are interconnected. There is no simple solution and none that everyone will immediately jump up to support. This book, however, gives all of us the information we need to start making some changes while we work toward making the larger societal and institutional changes. Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.