What Predicts Fear of School Violence Among U.S. Adolescents?

Jan. 30, 2010

Source: Teachers College Record, Volume 112 Number 1, 2010, p. 68-102.

Ensuring a safe learning environment for every student at school is a major responsibility of educators, school administrators, and policy makers in our society. Although predictors of adults’ fear of crimes have been studied extensively in the field of criminology, only a small number of studies have been conducted to examine the school and teacher factors associated with students’ fear of school violence.


The objectives of this study are (1) to examine the characteristics of students who fear being victimized by school violence and (2) to examine teacher and school characteristics associated with students’ fear.

Research Design
This study is based on a secondary analysis of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) data collected from a nationally representative sample of 2,787 15-year-olds in 111 schools in the United States.


The study found that low achievers reported a higher level of fear of school violence than high achievers. In addition, classroom disorder and a lower level of school mean parental education level were associated with a higher level of fear, and students’ sense of belonging and student–teacher bonding were associated with a lower level of fear.
Low academic achievement and a weak sense of student belonging at school were the two strongest predictors of students’ fear.


It is important for school administrators and teachers to focus on developing a sense of school community and maintaining orderly and effective classroom environments.
Teachers play an important role in developing a close and trusting relationship with students, providing meaningful learning and social activities for students to strengthen their sense of belonging at school, and developing caring and effective classroom environments.
School administrators should provide support to teachers and develop a school climate that promotes a sense of school community among students through involving students and their family members in important school decision-making processes.

Updated: May. 25, 2010