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 firstname.lastname@example.org; call 217-333-2261. Mary Keegan Eamon: email@example.com; 217-244-5238.
Sharita Forrest | University of Illinois
A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
Urbanization to convert 300,000 km2 of prime croplands
27.12.2016 | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) gGmbH
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction