Explanations of school disorder have suffered from at least two deficits, institutional explanations of the school climate have largely been ignored and insufficient attention to appropriate measures of school disorder has guided research and policy.
Using survey responses from students in middle schools in Philadelphia, the author studied the effects of school climate (such as clarity and fairness of rules), and individual student characteristics (such as age, sex, race, and dimensions of bonding) on various measures of school disorder. School disorder encompassed victimization, avoidance, perceptions of safety, misconduct, and offending. Schools varied significantly on all measures of disorder, and school climate provided significant explanatory power for each measure. Results varied regarding the various measures; for example, school climate predicted less serious misconduct more strongly than it predicted serious offending. The author concludes that school climate offers significant potential for enhancing both the understanding and the prevention of school violence. 48 references, 9 notes, and 2 tables
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