A Retrospective Study of School Safety Conditions in High Schools Using the Virginia Threat Assessment Guidelines Versus Alternative Approaches

  • Cornell D
  • Sheras P
  • Gregory A
 et al. 
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Threat assessment has been widely recommended as a violence prevention approach for schools, but there are few empirical studies of its use. This nonexperimental study of 280 Virginia public high schools compared 95 high schools using the Virginia threat assessment guidelines (Cornell & Sheras, 2006), 131 following other (i.e., locally developed) threat assessment procedures, and 54 not using a threat assessment approach. A survey of 9th grade students in each school obtained measures of student victimization, willingness to seek help for bullying and threats of violence, and perceptions of the school climate as caring and supportive. Students in schools using the Virginia threat assessment guidelines reported less bullying, greater willingness to seek help, and more positive perceptions of the school climate than students in either of the other 2 groups of schools. In addition, schools using the Virginia guidelines had fewer long-term suspensions than schools using other threat assessment approaches. These group differences could not be attributed to school size, minority composition or socioeconomic status of the student body, neighborhood violent crime, or the extent of security measures in the schools. Implications for threat assessment practice and research are discussed. (Contains 2 tables.)

Author-supplied keywords

  • Student threat assessment
  • school safety
  • school violence
  • violence prevention

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