An Examination of Public School Safety Measures Across Geographic Settings

Authors

  • Andrea J. Shelton PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Associate Professor, (sheltonaj@tsu.edu), College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Health Sciences Department, Texas Southern University, 3100 Cleburne St, Houston, TX 77004.
      Andrea J. Shelton, Associate Professor, (sheltonaj@tsu.edu), College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Health Sciences Department, Texas Southern University, 3100 Cleburne St, Houston, TX 77004.
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  • Emiel W. Owens EdD,

    1. Associate Professor, (owensew@tsu.edu), Department of Educational Administration, College of Education, Texas Southern University, 3100 Cleburne St, Houston, TX 77004.
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  • Holim Song EdD

    1. Assistant Professor, (hsong@tsu.edu), Department of Educational Administration, College of Education, Texas Southern University, 3100 Cleburne St, Houston, TX 77004.
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Andrea J. Shelton, Associate Professor, (sheltonaj@tsu.edu), College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Health Sciences Department, Texas Southern University, 3100 Cleburne St, Houston, TX 77004.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND:  Violence at a school can have a negative impact on the health of students, teachers, administrators, and others associated with the school and surrounding community. The use of weapons in school buildings or on school grounds accounts for the majority of violent deaths, particularly among males. This national trend suggests the need for a more concerted effort to improve safety and prevent violence. This article reports the use of 13 safety measures in US public schools in 4 geographic regions (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West) and 3 community settings (urban, suburban, and rural).

METHODS:  Data representing 16,000 schools reported in the Educational Longitudinal Survey of 2002-2004 were analyzed. Data were self-reported by school administrators.

RESULTS:  Of the various safety measures assessed, fire alarms and extinguishers were consistently reported regardless of the geographic region or community setting of the school. Other than measures for fire safety, schools throughout the country routinely used exterior light and student lockers as safety measures. There was a significant difference by geographic region and community setting in the use of safety measures that required specific personnel, namely a security guard and an adult to direct a guest to sign in.

CONCLUSION:  Recognizing the patterns of violence at public high schools, administrators working with students, other school personnel, and community partners may consider more combinations of the safety measures within their institutions together with local resources and services to improve safety and reduce violence.

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