Public School Practices for Violence Prevention and Reduction: 2003–04

School violence can lead to a disruptive and threatening environment, physical injury, and emotional stress, all of which can be obstacles to student achievement (Elliott, Hamburg, and Williams 1998). Educators have responded to the perceived threat of school violence by implementing programs designed to prevent, deter, and respond to the potential for violence in schools (Peterson, Larson, and Skiba 2001). In addition, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-110) emphasizes the importance of safe learning environments by requiring schools to have a safety plan in place and to fund programs and practices intended to prevent and reduce violence in schools.  

The needs and capabilities of schools may differ; thus, schools implement a variety of practices intended to prevent and reduce violence (Peterson, Larson, and Skiba 2001). However, little is known about the prevalence of school practices and the extent to which they vary according to school characteristics. This Issue Brief (1) examines principals’ reports of the prevalence of formal practices in public schools designed to prevent or reduce school violence and (2) describes the distribution of these practices by selected school characteristics. 

This analysis is based on school-level data reported by principals participating in the school year 2003–04 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS), administered by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The estimates presented here complement those in the NCES report Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2006 (Dinkes et al. 2006), which reported on the safety and security measures taken by schools in school year 2003–04. In addition to including updated estimates, this analysis reports on additional safety and security practices, such as the use of security officers at public schools, and a variety of other approaches intended to prevent and reduce school violence. 

There are many approaches designed to prevent and reduce violence in schools. However, this study examines (1) efforts to involve parents in preventing and reducing violence (2) safety and security procedures and (3) allowable disciplinary policies. In addition to reporting the data by standard school characteristics, the study presents results by principals’ self-reports of community crime.