Doctoral Dissertation

Joy R. Tolbert

A Study of Factors Influencing High School Safety and Security

(Under the direction of Dr. C. KENNETH TANNER)

University of Georgia

October 2002

 

            This study addressed safety and security issues in Georgia high schools.  One objective was to determine if a relationship existed between the school design elements and the rates of discipline referral.  Another objective was to compare the schools' discipline referral rates with their size, age, and location.  The next objective was to examine crisis preparedness and the discipline referral rates.  The study also investigated student characteristics that contribute to disturbances and discipline referrals.  The final objective was to identify strategies to reduce disturbances in Georgia high schools. 

            A survey was mailed to 200 high school administrators to identify characteristics of high schools and categorize school disturbances.  The survey was based on an instrument, "School Safety Audit: Protocol, Procedures, and Checklists" (1997) from the Virginia Department of Education.  Of the 200 surveys, 125 or 63% were returned.  The independent variables included design features, the schools' size, age, location, and crisis preparedness.  The dependent variable was the discipline referral rate. 

Statistically significant results were not found between design elements and discipline referral rates.  However, schools having fewer than 500 students had the smallest rate of discipline referrals, while rural areas had the highest rate of discipline referrals.  Administrators identified social judgment as the highest predictor of disturbances.  They specified  influence of the media to be the lowest predictor. The eight most important strategies in reducing discipline referrals, according to the survey were (by rank) the crisis management plan (1), resource officers (2), visible faculty and administrators (3), security cameras (4), code of student conduct (5), staff development on safety and security issues (6), character education (7.5), and counselor referrals (7.5).

INDEX WORDS:       School Violence, Safe Schools, and School Design Elements

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM

            According to Crews and Counts (1997), "In any historical examination of school disturbance and juvenile delinquency, two concepts become immediately apparent.  First, juvenile delinquency has existed for as long as juveniles have existed.  Second, school disturbance and violence have existed for as long as schools have existed."

            In colonial America, moral and social training were the primary purposes of an education.  Students received a seven-year education in grammar schools focusing on the study of Latin.  In colonial schools, the expectations for behavior were extensive and well defined.  Schoolhouses were typically framed with logs and had rough puncheon floors.  Walls were lined with seats and rough board desks.  Blackboards or maps did not exist.  In fact, students did not begin using slates until the 1820's.  Students were forbidden from such behaviors as borrowing or lending items, climbing, balancing a pen on the ear, spitting on the floor, and leaving their seats without permission.  Students were punished by lashes for offenses such as boys and girls playing together, failing to bow to strangers, or name-calling (Crews & Counts, 1997).

According to Baker and Rubel (1980), a common belief was that a child was prone to sin.  A fear of committing sin or breaking God's laws was viewed as the way to keep a child under control.  Family, church, and community were the three social institutions that dominated life for everyone.  In the schools, students and teachers often battled for control of the classrooms.  To allow teachers to have control in the classrooms, whipping was seen as a teaching tool.  Within the Scripture, violence against children was justified because corporal punishment was viewed as necessary for control and character regeneration.  In fact, fines and the whip were used as the most common punishments for children.  Due to the treatment of students during the colonial period, there is no evidence that significant student misbehavior occurred. 

During the early national period (1780-1830), there were no drastic changes in education from that of the colonial period.  Educational theorists began to fear social fragmentation and an undisciplined citizenry; therefore, there was a slow evolution of schooling throughout the early national period.  Within the classrooms of the late eighteenth-century schools, boys and girls sat separately on wooden benches.  A variety of age groups, ranging from five years to the teens, attended classes together.  During this period, stern methods of punishment continued to be used because discipline remained critical to control in the classrooms.  For example, students would typically receive praise for a correct answer and a blow for an incorrect one.  Classrooms were loud places full of undisciplined youth and cries from students who were being physically punished.  In addition to the battleground between teachers and students in the classrooms, most schoolrooms were dangerously cold in the winter and extremely hot in the summer.  The insufficient numbers of seats and other discomforts often aggravated students into more disruptive behaviors (Crews & Counts, 1997).

During the early nineteenth century, discipline problems continued to be daily occurrences in U.S. schools.  Teachers were forced to use threats, intimidation, and beatings to gain control of students in their classrooms.  School disturbances during this period were attributed to the poor conditions of the early schoolhouses and to the teaching methods used in the classrooms.  It was believed that the physical conditions of the early classrooms were enough to cause much of the misbehavior found in students. Due to the inadequate physical conditions of the school, the teaching methods, and the discipline practices, a common description of schools in the late 1800s was as "wild and unruly places."  At times, students were locked in windowless closets for whispering in class, and other students were tied to chairs for hours.  It was believed that all teachers had bad reputations merely for being teachers (Baker & Rubel, 1980). 

Crews and Counts (1997) found that during the late 1800s, the problem of having to deal with parental complaints concerning education began to develop and carried over into the twentieth century.  Critical to the survival of children and the nation was teacher authority.  Therefore, teachers were not to be questioned or challenged in any manner concerning their authority in the classroom.  Drastic changes in juvenile behavior during the period between 1860 and 1960 resulted in changes in school disturbances.  For example, when the education system began to emerge in the 1860s, the Civil War took its toll.  Violent confrontations at the schoolhouse door were the result of much civil strife. Control of classrooms evolved from a structure around all student movement, to expulsion, to armed and uniformed police officers being placed in school buildings.  Results of a classic study conducted in 1927 examined students’ behaviors and teachers’ attitudes and revealed that teachers regarded the most serious student behaviors as transgressions against authority, dishonesty, immorality, violation of rules, lack of orderliness, and lack of application to school work.  Truancy was the only type of school

disturbance that was documented in the late 1930s and early 1940s.  School buildings became larger and classrooms were larger.  There was a shift from two-and three-story buildings to one-story buildings. 

The 10 most reported school disturbances during the 1950s included stealing, temper tantrums, masturbation, nervousness, lack of respect for authority, cruelty, lying, fear, obscenity, and lack of responsibility.  In the late 1950s, violence in public schools began to increase in severity to the point that it ultimately resulted in the formation of internal security forces.  Violence became prevalent enough to represent a threat to the educational climate of the school in the late 1960s.  In U.S. News and World Report, articles from 1968-1976 began to show where public concern was shifting from disruptions, such as riots and sit-ins, to actual crimes.  An increase in high schools and college preparatory institutions occurred during the 1950s and 1960s.  Syracuse University Research Corporation released the results of a 1967 survey that concluded that disruption of education in public high schools was becoming extremely widespread and serious.  In the 1960s, the United States seemed to have become a country full of "trigger-happy people."  School safety plans made their debut in the 1960s.  Schools with high rates of vandalism in the 1960s brought much concern.  It was concluded that the highest rates of school vandalism occurred in schools with obsolete, aging facilities and equipment, low staff morale, high student dissatisfaction, and heavy financial burdens placed on the students (Crews & Counts, 1997). 

Elliott, Hamburg, and Williams (1998) suggest that, "The only arena in which adolescents had a socially recognized role was in the secondary school; yet this institution never was intended to meet all of the varied needs of children and youth."  Many students found school to be limiting and frustrating.  Only a minority of students really enjoyed attending school.  The students attending school who were not able to prepare themselves for living in a democracy felt useless and isolated from many of their peers.  Many of these frustrated and isolated youth began to "wreak havoc on those social institutions that most directly rejected them."  Therefore, school disturbance was one result of their frustration.  In addition to student frustration with the traditional school environment, a growing number of societal changes influenced the outcomes of violence in U.S. schools.  These societal changes included dysfunctional families, substance abuse, changing values of the adolescent subculture, and societal problems influenced by the social, emotional, and personal development of young people. 

Baker and Rubel (1980) stated that a November 22, 1971 article was the first article that expressed serious alarm over the extent of school violence; however, it treated the subject as exclusively a problem of large city schools, disregarding growing problems of school crimes in suburban communities.  The Gallop Polls of Public Attitudes Toward Education began in 1969 and appeared annually thereafter.  According to Gallop, in every year but 1971, discipline was the public’s foremost concern.  In the late 1960s, pupils sued the schools for violating their constitutional rights due to suspensions without due process.  By the 1970s, schools reacted by complying with the legal rulings and developing new due process procedures to protect against further court action.  Increasingly disruptive behavior became tolerated in schools, since suspension mechanisms were now under the watchful eye of the courts.  This tolerance of disruptive behavior led to increased fear of crime in schools.  In the late 1960s, threats of pupil disruptions and riots swept down from colleges to secondary schools.  Educators in 1975 predicted that in urban areas, gang activity would likely complicate the educational system.  Also, the erosion of in loco parentis powers of schools would have a lasting impact on teachers and pupils.  Finally, school security officers would be used to reduce the fear of crime in schools and form a liaison with pupils in the classroom setting. 

      The results of a 1980 nationwide survey in senior high schools found few  school administrators viewed physical conflicts among students, conflict between students and teachers, student weapon possession or rape as serious or moderately serious school problems. The primary focus of school violence and problems in the 1980s was drugs (Crews & Counts, 1997).

  The commonality of divorce and mothers entering the workforce in unprecedented numbers were seen as molding factors of the 1990s generation. Schools during the 1990s could not escape the increased violence that occurred in the neighborhoods and communities surrounding the schools (Who's Who Among American High School Students, 1995). 

In 1993, Attorney General Janet Reno wrote, "I think youth violence is probably the most serious crime problem that we face in America today."  Remboldt (1994) reported that more than 160,000 students stay home from school daily because they are sick of the violence and afraid they might be stabbed, shot, or beaten.  In 1996-97, 10% of all public schools reported at least one serious violent crime to the police or a law enforcement representative (Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 1998).

During the late 1990s, the lead stories on the national news became Springfield, Oregon; West Paducah, Kentucky; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Edinsboro, Pennsylvania; Pearl, Mississippi; Littleton, Colorado; Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, and Conyers, Georgia.  These locations across the nation became familiar for a common reason.  Students entered the doors of these schools and expressed their anger and frustration on their peers and teachers in the most violent and lethal way possible.  The accused perpetrators were described as average children from middle-class homes with good parents and sometimes no pattern of previous trouble.  Yet, these students engaged in acts beyond anyone's comprehension with little regard for the long-term consequences of their behavior (Sandu & Aspy, 2000).

Ironically, twenty years ago, we thought children were safe in their homes.  Then, we learned about physical and sexual abuse.  We always believed that children were safe in their neighborhoods.  But slowly violence crept into the neighborhoods across America.  We thought children were safe in schools.  However, due to the increase in violence in U.S. schools, some schools became armed camps to protect students from the dangers outside the walls as well as the dangers inside the schools. In America, school crime, violence, vandalism, and drug abuse are significant problems on far too many campuses (Who's Who Among American High School Students, 1995).

            Crews and Counts (1997) described how schools have added an additional drill to their existing repertoire of drills such as the tornado, fire, and earthquake drills.  Many schools added yellow-code(warning) alerts to their safety plans.  During this new kind of drill, students are taught to dive under their desks when they hear gunfire or at the sound of a warning alarm.  School safety has become a priority for parents, students, teachers, school administrators, politicians, and policy makers.  The goal is to return schools to a place for children to learn, achieve, and acquire the skills they need to become successful and productive adults.  It is a right of parents to expect that their children will be reasonably protected from harm.  The safety of students while they are in school must be ensured so that their full attention can be given to the process of learning. Parents want their children to be able to master skills beyond the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. They want their children to enter adulthood with the values and character that will enable them to be successful and productive in any workplace. 

 It is believed that in the future, education will be asked to continue to solve problems such as school violence that it did not create in environments that it cannot control such as neighborhoods, communities, and homes.  When the educational system cannot provide solutions to these problems, the quality of education and teachers will once again be criticized.  It must be understood that a technologically based society requiring capable and well-educated citizens will not be able to sit passively while a small percentage of adolescents brings the entire educational system to its knees (Rubel, 1978).

Statement of the Problem

The number, frequency, and severity of school disturbances are increasing.  The literature reveals specific factors that increase the risk for school disturbances.  Yet, in Georgia, specific conclusions for making high schools safe places for teaching and learning have not been established.

Statement of the Purpose

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between specific characteristics of high schools in Georgia and the degree of safety/security from school disturbances in those schools.

Research Questions

1.     What is the relationship between the number of design elements present in the school and discipline referral rate?

2.     Are there any significant differences among the schools' discipline referral rate and the schools' size, age, and location?

3.     Is there a relationship to the degree of crisis preparedness of a school and the discipline referral rate?

4.     Which student characteristics are perceived by administrators as being factors that contribute to school disturbances/discipline referrals?

5.     Which strategies have been effective in reducing the number and frequency of school disturbances in high schools in Georgia?

Definition of Terms

ISS (In-School Suspension):  Removal of the student from all classes and school-sponsored activities during the school day by the administration. 

 

OSS (Out-of-School Suspension):  Removal of a student from school and school-sponsored activities for a designated period of time by either the administration or the Board of Education.

 

Social judgment:  The ability to attend to relevant interpersonal cues before interpreting the meaning of others' behavior.

Overview of Procedures

The respondents in this study were limited to a group of 200 randomly selected high schools throughout Georgia.  Surveys were completed by school administrators to examine the relationship among specific characteristics of high schools in Georgia and the number and frequency of school disturbances in these schools.  The administrative survey was based on an instrument entitled, "School Safety Audit:  Protocol, Procedures, and Checklists" (1997) from the Virginia Department of Education.  The survey responses revealed effective and ineffective strategies currently used by high schools in Georgia to reduce the number and frequency of school disturbances and discipline referrals.

Assumptions of the Study

The following assumptions were identified from the study.

1.     The degree of safety and security of the each high school may not have been accurately reflected by the survey instrument.

2.     The factors, other than design, that affect the degree of safety of a high school may not have been completely reflected by the survey instrument.

3.     A state-wide sampling of high schools provided adequate variability to make logical inference concerning safety and security.

Limitations of the Study

The following limitations were identified from the study.

1.      The literature review may not have reflected the elements that affect the degree of safety and security of all high schools in Georgia.

2.     The data collection was restricted to administrators of high schools in Georgia who completed the survey instrument.

3.     The data was limited to high schools in the state of Georgia.

4.     There were no personal observations made of each school where an administrator completed a survey instrument.

CHAPTER V

 

SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS

 

            The findings of this study are reviewed and interpreted in this chapter.  Following

the background information, a discussion of the findings, conclusions, and

recommendations is presented.

Background

            A review of the literature showed that schools have become no longer the safe havens they once were.  School violence directly or indirectly effects everyone, especially our nation's students, parents, teachers, and other school staff (Who's Who Among American High School Students, 1995).  The goal is to return schools to their status as safe havens for children to learn, achieve, and acquire the skills they need to become successful and productive adults (Crews & Counts, 1997).  The number, frequency, and severity of school disturbances are increasing.  The literature reveals specific factors that increase the risk for school disturbances.  Yet, in Georgia, specific conclusions for making high school safe places for teaching and learning have not been established.  Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between specific characteristics of high schools in Georgia and the degree of safety/security from school disturbances in those schools.  In this study, there were five independent variables identified in the study that included design elements, size, age, location, and degree of crisis preparedness of each school.  Each of these variables was compared to the dependent variable, the discipline referral rate of each school.  The total number of school disturbances/discipline referrals in each school was calculated based on the total assignments to In-School Suspension (ISS), the total number of assignments to Out-of-School Suspension (OSS), and the total number of fights reported during the 2000-2001 school year.  In order to calculate the discipline referral rate for each school, the total number of discipline referrals was divided by the total enrollment in each school. 

This study also identified student characteristics that are perceived by administrators of high schools in Georgia as being factors that contribute to school disturbances/discipline referrals.  The final objective of the study was to identify strategies that have been effective in reducing the number and frequency of school disturbances in high schools in Georgia.  The conclusions for the entire study are presented in the following sections.

Summary Per Independent Variable

Research Question One

 

            One objective of this study was to determine if there was a relationship between the number of design elements present in the school specifically related to school safety and security to the discipline referral rate.  The design elements present in the school were divided into exterior and interior elements.  The exterior elements included such features as fenced school grounds, trimmed shrubs and foliage, defined bus loading, supervised loading/drop-off areas, defined parent drop-off/pick-up, adequate lighting, surveillance cameras in exterior areas, and surveillance cameras at entrances/exits.  The interior elements included features such as central alarm system, two-way communication between classrooms and office, supervised entries to building, strategic positioning of offices, extra-wide corridors (more than six feet), surveillance cameras in hallways, and modified restrooms (with doorless entries). 

On the survey, the design elements were presented in the form of a checklist.  If an element was in place, the administrator checked yes.  If an element was not in place, the administrator checked no.  The mean of the total number of exterior design elements was compared to the discipline referral rate of each school.  Also, the mean of the total number of interior design elements was compared to the discipline referral rate of each school.  In the correlation comparing the number of interior and exterior design elements present to the discipline referral rate, no statistically significant relationship was found.  The correlation between the sum of exterior design elements and discipline referral rates yielded a two-tailed significance of .421.  The correlation between the interior design elements and discipline referral rates yielded a two-tailed significance of .108.  Based on the findings of this study, since no statistically significant relationship existed between the variables, the number of design elements present in the school did not relate to the rate of discipline referrals. 

Also, within the survey, administrators were asked to rate from (1) to (5) the location where most school disturbances occur.  The locations included classrooms, hallways, restrooms, cafeteria, commons area, and other.  From the survey results, administrators identified hallways, cafeterias, and commons areas to be places where most school disturbances occur.  These findings are in agreement with Hoffman (1996) who found that most teachers believe that violence occurs in hallways, in the cafeteria, or in unattended classrooms.  Astor, Meyer, Behre, and Bortz (1996) found that violent events occurred primarily in spaces such as hallways, dining areas, and parking lots at times when teachers are not present.

Research Question Two

            Another objective of this study was to determine if there were any significant differences among the schools' discipline referral rate and the schools' size, age, and location.  In order to determine if any significance existed between the schools' size, age, or location to the rate of discipline referrals, a one way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used.  If necessary, following the ANOVA, the Scheffe' post hoc analysis was completed.  In looking at the independent variable of the size of the school, the administrators were asked to check the population of their student body given the following choices <500, 501-1200, 1201-1800, and >1800.  Total respondents of the survey included 12 schools with a population of <500, 50 schools with a population of 501-1200, 22 schools with a population of 1201-1800, and 7 schools with a population of >1801. 

This study found that although there was no statistically significant differences when comparing student population to discipline referral rates, the rates for smaller schools was .1907 less than its closest rival, schools having from 1201-1800 students.  Also, it should be noted that schools with a population between 501-1200 students had the highest rate of referrals.  The mean for the discipline referral rate for schools with a student population of <500 was .4454.  The mean for schools with a population of 501-1200 was .7976.  The mean for schools with a student population of 1201-1800 was .6361.  Finally, the mean for schools with a population of >1801 was .6782.  These findings are in line with Irmsher (1997) who reported that security improves and violence decreases in small schools.  Corley (1991) found that small schools are significantly more likely to be violence-free than large ones, and that students are less likely to dropout of small schools. 

This study did not find statistical significance between the age of the school facility and the discipline referral rate.  On the survey, administrators were asked to check if their school's age was 0-5 years, 5-10 years, 10-20 years, 20-30 years, or 30+ years.  The findings in this study were based upon surveys returned from 8 schools 0-5 years, 14 schools 5-10 years, 15 schools 10-20 years, 22 schools 20-30 years, and 32 schools 30+ years.  The mean of the rate of discipline referrals for schools 0-5 years old was .6506.  The mean of the rate of discipline referrals for schools 5-10 years old was .5319.  The mean for the rate of discipline referrals for schools 10-20 years old was .6561.  The mean for the rate of discipline referrals for schools 20-30 years old was .8587.  Finally, the mean for the rate of discipline referrals for schools 30+ years old was .7071.  Since the significance level was .675 and significance was not found at the .05 level, a post hoc analysis was not completed.  Based on the findings of this study, the lower rate of discipline referrals were in schools within the age range of 5 to 10 years.  The higher rate of discipline referrals belonged to schools that were 20-30 years old.

Chan and Morgan (1996) found statistical significance at the .05 level for middle and elementary schools when comparing school safety and school building age.  Based on the respondents of the current study of a random sampling of high schools in Georgia, the results reflect conclusions drawn from Honeyman (1998) who found that almost 30% of all school buildings are approaching the end of their useful life at 50 years.

This study did not find statistical significance between the location of the school and the rate of discipline referrals.  On the survey, administrators were asked to check whether their school would be considered a rural, suburban, or an urban school.  The findings of this study were based upon survey results that yielded 65 from rural schools, 19 from suburban schools, and only 6 from urban schools.   The mean for the rate of discipline referrals for rural schools was .7495.  The mean for the rate of discipline referrals for suburban schools was .6009.  Finally, the mean for the rate of discipline referrals for urban schools was .5441. It should be noted from this study, the schools in rural areas had the highest rates of discipline referrals.  Schools in urban areas had the lowest rates of referrals. 

According to Elliott, Hamburg, and Williams (1998) few studies have examined the relationship between community characteristics and crime/violence in schools.  The general conclusion from the existing studies is that crime in schools is a reflection of crime in the surrounding community. 

Research Question Three

            The next objective of this study was to determine if there was a relationship between the degree of crisis preparedness of a school and the rate of discipline referrals.  On the survey, administrators were asked to check yes or no to the following elements of crisis preparedness which included having an updated crisis management plan, specific procedures for staff responsibilities for supervising students in public areas of the school, and the presence of law enforcement officers on campus.  The total elements present in each school were compared to the rate of discipline referrals.  This study did not find statistical significance when comparing the degree of crisis preparedness to the rate of discipline referrals.  These findings yielded a significance level of .192 and a correlation of -.138 after the Pearson Correlation was completed.  This negative correlation indicates that the rate of discipline referrals was inversely related to the preparedness, indicating that preparedness may be of value when explaining the rate of discipline referrals.  In support of the findings, Day (1996) suggested that the simple act of providing hall monitors, placing teachers or security officers at school entrances, or using television surveillance can reduce a perpetrator's ability to act without detection.

Research Question Four

            This study also investigated which student characteristics were perceived by administrators as being factors that contribute to school disturbances/discipline referrals.  According to the literature, the following characteristics were identified as predictors of a student's potential for being violent/disruptive at school: Low socioeconomic status, level of intelligence, school achievement, social judgment, family factors, exposure to violence, influence of media, and prevalence of risk-taking behaviors.  This study found that administrators feel that social judgment is the greatest predictor of school disturbance. 

On the survey, administrators were asked to rate characteristics from 1 to 8 with 1 being the most important predictor of a student's potential for being violent/disruptive at school.  The results of this study revealed that 15 administrators thought low socioeconomic status was the greatest predictor of potential violence.   Four administrators thought level of intelligence was the greatest predictor.  Twelve administrators chose school achievement as the greatest predictor.  Twenty-seven selected social judgment as the greatest predictor.  Twenty-three administrators thought family factors such as poor family climate to be the greatest predictor.  Eighteen administrators voted exposure to violence as the greatest predictor.  Three administrators found influence of the media to be the greatest predictor.  Finally, twenty-three administrators found prevalence of risk-taking behaviors such as gang affiliation, drug use, alcohol use, etc. to be the greatest predictor of potential violence/disruption at school.  These findings are in line with Sandhu and Aspy (2000) who found violent children and adolescents are fearless and are not much concerned about shame and self-respect.  Dodge, Price, Backorowski, and Newman (1990) found that violent adolescents are more likely to label neutral cues in the environment as hostile, thus increasing the likelihood that they will react aggressively to a particular situation.  This study revealed that fewer administrators of high schools in Georgia found the influence of the media to be a predictor of violent behavior.

Research Question Five

            The fifth objective of the study was to identify strategies that have been effective in reducing the number and frequency of school disturbances in high schools in Georgia.  On the survey, administrators were asked to respond to an open-ended question that asked them for effective strategies that their school has in place to increase school safety and security. 

From the results of the surveys for this study, school administrators listed the following strategies as being most effective in reducing the number and frequency of school disturbances in high schools in Georgia:  Crisis management plan, cell phones/walkie-talkies among administrators, resource officers, small classes, character education programs, door lock down drills, highly visible faculty and administration, advisement program, random searches by drug dog for drugs/weapons, security cameras, staff development on safety issues, metal detectors, student-support teams in place, counselor referrals for discipline violations, day alternative schools, 24 hour school violence hotline, interior and exterior of school on CD, code of student conduct, and GEMA evaluations. 

In the literature, Day (1996) stated that many kinds of programs have been developed in an attempt to address school violence.  Unfortunately, there is no magic answer.  There is no one program, no silver bullet to solve the problem of school violence.  According to Goldstein (1994), there are nine categories of potential solutions to school violence.  The nine categories include administration, teacher focused, curriculum, community based, legal solutions, physical school and facility alterations, security personnel, student oriented, and parent oriented.

Conclusions of the Study

            Research evidence in the literature indicated that school crime, violence, vandalism, and drug use are significant problems on far too many campuses in America.  They directly or indirectly affect everyone, especially our nation's students, parents, teachers, and other school staff (Who's Who Among American High School Students, 1995).  According to Rubel (1978) in the future, education will be asked once again to solve problems that it did not create in environments that it cannot control.  Therefore, the findings from this study may be considered significant for many reasons.  From the research literature and this study, it can be concluded that the presence of teachers and administrators may decrease disturbances even in public areas that may or may not have secure interior and exterior design elements.  Also, based on this study and a review of the literature, it can be concluded that the schools of less than 500 students have a lower rate of school disturbances.

Though no statistical significance was found when comparing the location of the school facility to the total number of school disturbances/discipline referrals, it must be noted that the level of significance may have been affected by the unbalanced survey results returned from rural, suburban, and urban schools.  Notwithstanding, rural schools had the highest rate of discipline referrals.  Though age as compared to the total number of discipline referrals did not show statistical significance, the age of high schools in Georgia may be an interesting factor for future research. 

From the findings of this study, it can also be concluded that even though statistical significance could not be found when comparing the degree of crisis preparedness of high schools in Georgia to rate of discipline referrals, that high schools in this state are taking steps to prepare for a potential crisis.  This study noted that 12% of high school administrators view socioeconomic status as a predictor of potential school disruption/violence.  According to Pallas, Natriello, and McDill (1989) the number of children living in poverty in the United States is likely to increase at least through the year 2020.  Therefore, any relations among ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and violence are likely to remain important social issues in the future.  Finally, based on the literature and the findings of this study, there is no one program to solve the problem of school violence.  Yet, the solution will be the combined efforts of school administrators, teachers, parents, students, and a myriad of other categories to reduce the number and frequency of school disturbances in high schools in Georgia.   

Recommendations For Further Research

            Based on the results of this study, the following recommendations for further research are made:

1.     A study should be conducted to determine teachers' opinions of their responsibility to supervise public areas (hallways, cafeteria, commons areas, parking lots, etc.) in high schools.   

2.     A study should be conducted to research effective programs for violent adolescents to improve their social judgment.

3.     A longitudinal study should be conducted to determine the effectiveness of programs in high schools to reduce the frequency of violent behavior.