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Florida Gulf Coast University

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Institute for Youth and Justice Studies

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School Violence

Students enrolled in public schools have the right to attend safe, secure campuses. Instead, both students and staff too often feel unsafe at school, rather than perceiving school as a safe haven. According to the National Crime Survey, nearly three million thefts and violent crimes occur on or near school campuses every year. This equates to approximately 16,000 incidents per day, or about one every six seconds. Although the number of crimes on school campuses has remained nearly level over the past several years, the crimes are of a more serious nature, children are committing crimes at a younger age, and the frequency of assaults is increasing. Unacceptable and criminal behavior on school campuses is of increasing concern to school administrators, teachers and staff, and parents of school children. Nearly all research on school climate is correlated; therefore, no real causal statements can be made about the effects of school climate. Because of the difficulty of collecting data from a limited sample of schools, the need to control great diversity of student input variables, and the length of time needed for longitudinal studies, challenges to conducting comprehensive research are immense. Even so, examination of the correlation of climate variables with various outcome measures indicates that school climate does make an observable difference.