Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014 06:53 pm est

Study relates violence to school performance

Posted on April 22, 2014 | by Marita Vlachou

Courtesy of NYU

When the homicide rate increases in a community, primary school children are more likely to fail a grade.

A new study, co-authored by NYU sociology professor Florencia Torche and doctoral student Monica Caudillo, found these results. The study is based on the statistical analysis of a large data set that merged information about every school in Mexico across 21 years between 1990 and 2010.

While it is difficult to measure the effects of violence on developing minds, Torche and Caudillo used various statistical techniques to understand the effects of local violence on children.

“The statistical techniques we use allow us to capture a causal effect of violence on grade failure, and not simply a correlation,” Torche said.

Torche said it is more common for poor children to live in violent communities, and the impact on their school performance is likely to contribute to the intergenerational reproduction of poverty.

“Research in the [United States] usually focuses on the effect of local violence on adolescents,” Torche said. “Our study demonstrates that exposure to local violence affects children since they are very young.”

Mark Alter, a professor of educational psychology, said students have always been affected academically, socially and psychologically by out-of-school factors — the most powerful of which is community.

“Students who experience poverty and all the problems that come with it have enough trouble just surviving, much less succeeding in school,” Alter said.

To address these out-of-school factors that affect school performance, Alter said the focus should be on raising revenues to fund after-school programs, basic health programs, social work and other services at low-income schools.

Torche said more research should be done on the negative psychological impacts of violence on children.

“This negative effect emerges because violence induces fear, anxiety and stress among children, and that affects their school performance,” Torche said. “More research is necessary to fully understand these and other mechanisms.”

Caudillo said in a press release to the American Sociological Association that the research could indicate a need for school programs to help children cope with violence.

“Our research suggests that in violent environments it may be important to consider initiatives such as teacher training and school programs designed to help children manage and reduce the symptoms associated with exposure to violence in order to alleviate their negative impact,” Caudillo said.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 22 print edition. Marita Vlachou is a staff writer. Email her at news@nyunews.com. 


profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.