This is the Draft Final Summary Overview of a NIJ-funded project with the goals of 1) identifying patterns of school violence; 2) identifying correlates of school violence from multiple contexts; and 3) examining bullying and cyberbullying as unique forms of school violence.
The methodological features of the project are 1) three annual surveys of students initially enrolled in 12 middle schools in St. Louis County; 2) a summer component conducted over two summers that involved interviews with a subsample of students; and 3) two anonymous surveys of school personnel. Consistent with prior work, the study found that about 5 percent of youth were gang members. The membership tended to be transitory; 80 percent were gang members for only 1 year; however, during their gang membership, offending and victimization were elevated. Online activity was slightly more common among gang members. This report advises that the effect of gang membership on delinquency has ramifications for efforts to prevent school violence. Preventing youth from joining gangs, even for 1 year, can significantly reduce delinquent behavior and victimization, both in and out of school. Teachers and students assessed school climate similarly, suggesting that for schools with anxious and fearful students, initiatives to increase student-teacher collaboration in the classroom can promote perceptions of supportive school environments. Regarding bullying, when surveys included the use of a behavior-specific definition with multiple behaviors included, 47 percent of the Wave 1 sample was bullied. Most victims of cyberbullying had already experienced traditional bullying. A listing of project Fact Sheets and publications is provided.