Tragedies like those at Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Stoneman Douglas force us to admit that our schools are not always safe places. And yet stacked on top of these events is also the daily task of keeping youths safe from the full spectrum of violence—including bullying and intimidation, harassment, fighting, and carrying weapons—in the school environment. Yet creating effective, evidence-based policies to address violence in school would first require knowing what the sourc- es of school violence are. Accordingly, with the support of the National Institute of Justice, the current study presents a meta-analysis of nearly 700 studies of school violence. The strongest and most consistent risk factors for various forms of violence perpetration at school at school were antisocial behaviors, deviant peers, victimization, peer rejection, and antisocial attitudes. For victimization at school, the strongest predictors were prior victimization, low social competence, peer rejec- tion, violent school context, and negative school climate. LGBT students and those with disabilities were also found to have high risks of being victimized at school. Target hardening practices, such as installing security cameras and metal detectors, or having a school resource officer or school security guard present, were among the weakest predictors and had virtually no association with any form of violence or victimization at school. Thus, reducing most forms of school violence will require an approach that focuses less on traditional law enforcement strategies, and more on the nature of peer relationships among students.
Dr. Travis Pratt, University of Cincinnati
Travis C. Pratt received his PhD from the University of Cincinnati, and is a Fellow at the University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute and the Research Director at the Harris County Community Supervision and Corrections Department. He is the author of Addicted to Incarceration: Corrections Policy and the Politics of Misinformation in the United States and Thinking About Victimization: Context and Consequences (with Jillian Turanovic). He is also the author of over 100 peer- reviewed articles and chapters on subjects related to criminal behavior, victimization, and correctional policy.