While education and safety experts and parent-teacher organizations long have promoted parental involvement as key to maintaining safe school environments, a study of children 10 to 14 years old by researchers at the University of Illinois suggests that parents’ presence has little impact on whether young people perceive their schools as safe.
So, then what does help students feel safer at school? Frequent parent-child discussions at home about academics, school activities and other concerns along with teacher involvement, rule enforcement and being able to make friends easily at school, said the researchers, Jun Sung Hong, a doctoral student, and Mary Keegan Eamon, a faculty member, both in the School of Social Work at Illinois. Their study appeared recently in the Journal of Child and Family Studies.
Using a nationally representative data set of more than 1,200 young people, Hong and Eamon examined the relationship of children’s perceptions of school safety with various socio-demographic characteristics of the children, their families and their home and school environments.
While the majority of students in the study had no concerns about school safety, close to a third of the young people perceived their schools as unsafe to some degree.
Not surprisingly, children living in poverty, in neighborhoods with higher crime rates and who attended inner city schools were more likely to perceive their school environments as dangerous.
“Students who feel that their neighborhood is safe are less likely to feel unsafe in school,” Hong said. “This is very important because there haven’t been a lot of studies on school violence or bullying that looked at neighborhood safety.”
However, the children’s perceptions of being unsafe in school significantly decreased relative to how frequently they discussed their studies, school activities and other concerns with their parents, although direct parent involvement in the school had little impact.
Perhaps children who had better communication with their parents were “more willing to discuss what’s going on in school and felt their parents might do something to try to protect them or make things better for them,” Eamon said. “Keeping that communication open with children about what’s going on in schools seems to be very important.“It really surprised us that none of the other parent variables – school involvement, attending school meetings/events, volunteering at the school or speaking with the teachers – was significantly related to kids’ perceptions of safety,” Eamon said. “You’d think that the more parents were involved in the school system, the more likely it would be that kids would perceive it as safer, just because the parents might see that there are problems and be more involved in fixing them, but we didn’t find anything” that corroborated that.
Parental involvement in schools might have more impact on younger children’s perceptions of safety than on early adolescents, who tend to rely less on their parents and more on their peers, Hong said.
Children in the study who had seen a peer carrying a weapon at school were 70 percent more likely to perceive their schools as unsafe, as were male students and older students.
While rule enforcement increased perceptions of safety among study participants, other studies have indicated that stringent security and punitive measures such as installing metal detectors and implementing “zero tolerance” anti-violence policies can backfire, exacerbating behavioral problems among at-risk youth, heightening students’ fear of being victimized and potentially marginalizing or unfairly penalizing minority students.
The researchers suggested a variety of interventions at the family, school and neighborhood levels, including schools’ adopting anti-violence policies in combination with “whole school” interventions that target all students rather than individuals or groups of students. Social workers might also advocate for community programs that reduce violence in neighborhoods and protect children as they walk to and from school.
Hong and Eamon also recommended that school officials, community leaders and gun-control organizations work together to reduce weapon carrying and weapon-related school violence, and pointed to the Baton Rouge Partnership for Prevention of Juvenile Gun Violence as a possible example. Implemented in Baton Rouge, La., in late 1997, the initiative involves multiple police and community agencies in comprehensive intervention, treatment and prevention strategies for young people on probation for gun-related offenses, and it provides services for their family members.
During its first three years, the partnership significantly reduced the number of school expulsions, re-arrests and fear of violence among youth in the program along with firearms-related crimes in the targeted area.
Editor’s note: To contact Jun Sung Hong, email email@example.com; call 217-333-2261. Mary Keegan Eamon: firstname.lastname@example.org; 217-244-5238.
Sharita Forrest | University of Illinois
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy