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Research shows no rise in violence

TWO claims make a violent wave? Your headline (TES, April 7) was worthy of the most sensationalist of tabloids.

On the basis of minimal and partial evidence you assert that "Heads are hit by a wave of violence". Your evidence seems to be two compensation claims: surely we can only conclude that litigation is more used than before.

We are soon to complete the most comprehensive analysis we know of the actual pattern of violent incidents in six urban secondary schools.

We have not specifically investigated incidents involving parents, but our data for two years shows no evidence of physical violence from pupils to teachers and only secondary differences between schools (the main difference being gender).

So your reference to "assaults by parents and pupils" is unfounded. Even in the USA, those who are closest to the most omprehensive data conclude "despite public perceptions to the contrary, the current data do not support the claim that there has been a dramatic overall increase in school-based violence in recent years". (Hyman and Perone, 1998, Journal of School Psychology, 36:1, 7-27).

While the National Association of Head Teachers may choose to play a violence card in its pro-exclusion campaign, we hope The TES would stay closer to the facts.

Dr R Hewitt

Goldsmiths College

C Watkins, Dr D Epstein, Professor D Leonard, Dr M Mauthner

Institute of Education

20 Bedford Way

London WC1H

The editor writes: As the article made clear, dozens of claims for compensation by heads are being processed by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. The two cited were just those receiving an award of more than pound;100,000

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