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School Transitions and Student Responses to Victimization - Breakout Session, NIJ Virtual Conference on School Safety

On February 16-18, 2021, the National Institute of Justice hosted the Virtual Conference on School Safety: Bridging Research to Practice to Safeguard Our Schools. This video includes the following presentations:

Student Perceptions of School Safety and the Transition to a New School: Is there a Honeymoon Effect?, Dan Abad and Chris Melde

School transitions represent a salient event in a student's life with negative experiences often associated with the change. Student concerns with their safety is a noted issue faced by youth as they enter a new school. The current study examines three waves of panel qualitative data gathered from 60 students before, during, and at the end of their transition from elementary to middle and high schools in a high-risk context. Results suggest student perceptions of safety are consistent with what is known as a "honeymoon effect," where noted problems are temporarily reinterpreted in a positive manner, only to be experienced in more negative ways over time. Implications for the honeymoon effect on student perceptions of safety are discussed.

School Transition and School Violence: Longitudinal Research in Oregon Emma Espel Villarreal, Paul Smokowski and Julia Dmitrieva

This study employed a multi-systems approach to understanding the root causes of school violence. Quantitative analyses utilized longitudinal data from multiple agencies in the state of Oregon from 2004/05 to 2012/13. Qualitative thematic analyses examined the extant research literature on school violence. The study was designed to examine root causes and related factors contributing to school violence, disciplinary responses, and the factors related to school-to-prison pipeline. This session will provide an overview of the study and findings that highlight the deleterious effects of transitions to middle school and early school disciplinary actions such as suspensions, and identified promising school safety strategies.

“I felt like a hero” Ethnically Diverse Teens Talk About Revenge & Resolving Conflicts, Karin Frey and Adaurennaya C. Onyewuenyi

Daily routines and social interactions as contexts for school violence: a qualitative study, Bernadette Hohl

School violence is a major public health concern; disruptive to the educational environment and associated with negative mental health, school performance, and delinquency outcomes. The purpose of our analysis was to understand how students’ daily routines and social interactions influence risk of violence with the goal of informing intervention. As part of a large-scale, mixed-methods study we conducted semi-structured interviews (n=56) with 12-18 years old who lived/went to school in Philadelphia, PA, and were involved (victim/perpetrator) in a violent school-related assault in the six months prior to their interview. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and entered into NVivo 12 for coding and analysis. Using a modified grounded theory approach, we developed a codebook matching common themes identified in the interviews. Results suggest school-related violence is infrequently a random act; instead there was usually a precipitating event, and these incidents almost always involved people who knew each other. Important emerging themes included: opportunities to intervene; role of adults and peers in encouraging/discouraging violence; varied attitudes towards school supervision; role of social media; and presence of trauma and importance of emotion regulation. Social environment was considered in the context of the physical environment to enhance the meaning of place. School violence occurs with some regularity, and violent acts or incidents are often the final culminating events, offering several areas of modifiable factors for intervention leading up to the incident. Findings from this study lend important insights for to reduce school violence and will inform training and policy recommendations at the local level which can also be adapted nationwide in similar settings.

Date Published: February 16, 2021