School security, perceptions of safety, and student misbehavior: A multi-level examination
Servoss, Timothy James
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Since 1999, many schools have significantly increased the use of security measures to reduce or prevent school violence and other forms of student misbehavior (Addington, 2009). Many speculate that this nationwide trend to increase school security measures was a response to the very high-profile shootings that took place at Columbine in April of 1999 (Addington, 2009). Regardless of the cause of the trend towards increased security measures, there is fairly widespread recognition that the effectiveness of these measures in reducing or preventing school violence and other forms of student misbehavior remains largely unexamined by researchers (Birkland & Lawrence, 2009; Greene, 2005). There is also concern that these increased security measures may actually have the unintended effect of increasing school violence and student misbehavior through invasions of privacy, betraying student trust, and through creating an atmosphere intensely focused on punitiveness (Hyman & Perone, 1998; Noguera, 1995). The purpose of this study was to document school and student differences between high and low security schools, understand the relationship between school security and perceptions of safety, and to understand the relationship between school security and student misbehavior. To this end, a secondary analyses of 10,577 10 th grade students from 504 public schools from the Education Longitudinal Study (ELS:2002) survey data was carried out. Increased school security was associated with lower perceptions of the school as a safe place by both students and their parents. Security was negatively associated with student self-reports of their misbehavior but was found not to have a statistically significant relationship to teacher ratings of students' misbehavior. Importantly, security interacts with race/ethnicity such that African-American, and to a lesser extent, Hispanic/Latino students are rated as having higher levels of disruptive and attendance-related misbehavior by teachers in schools with increased levels of security.