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School Violence Prevention Measures: School Officials' Attitudes About Various Strategies

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 36 Issue: 4 Dated: August 2008 Pages: 301-306
Victoria Time; Brian K. Payne
Date Published
August 2008
6 pages
This study examined the ways in which 138 school officials from the Commonwealth of Virginia viewed the usefulness of 3 types of strategies for preventing school violence by locating weapons in schools: "legal," "interactionist," and "physical" strategies.
“Legal” remedies refer to the application of law in the school context, such as a search strategy that allows school officials to search and seize contraband based on reasonable suspicion. “Interactionist” remedies refer to practices that encourage students and teachers to communicate more openly with school administrators when they observe or have knowledge about indications of potential violence. “Physical” remedies refer to strategies that alter the school’s physical environment so as to make it more difficult to commit violent acts. Survey findings show that school officials favor interactionist strategies for locating weapons in schools, notably, encouraging tips from students about other students having weapons on school grounds. Legal remedies were also cited as useful, with virtually all of the respondents believing that their school resource officer was effective in making students and staff feel safer. Less support was expressed for physical remedies. Black respondents approved metal detectors more than White respondents, and those who believed more latitude should be provided for acting on reasonable suspicion rated metal detectors higher than those who had reservations about intrusive actions based on reasonable suspicion. Out of questionnaires sent to all 310 public high schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia, 138 questionnaires were completed and returned by school officials qualified to complete the survey. The questionnaire queried respondents about their demographic characteristics, experience as educators, types of weapons confiscated from students in the past year and the last 5 years, ratings on the usefulness of specified strategies for locating weapons on school grounds, and levels of agreement regarding statements about school searches. 5 tables and 41 references