Sprague, J., Smith, S., & Stieber, S. (2002). Principal Perceptions of School Safety. University of Oregon, Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior. Eugene, OR.

Principal Perceptions of School Safety

Jeffrey Sprague, Ph.D.
Stephen Smith, M.S.
Steven Stieber, Ph.D.
University of Oregon Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior

In a climate of continued national concern over school safety, school personnel are faced with a flood of statistics and advice about the prevalence of youth violence, and recommended responses. In the spring of 2000, a school safety survey (Sprague, Colvin, & Irvin, 1995) was sent to all public school principals in Oregon to assess their perceptions of risk and protective factors affecting school safety. We also asked questions about school safety concerns and intervention programs. We compared the results of the present survey with those found from administering the same survey in 1995. Results indicate that protective factors were rated higher than risk factors in 1995 and 2000. Bullying and harassment, poverty, and transiency were top rated risk factors in 2000 and these were different from results found in 1995. Principals rated response to conflict, suicide prevention, and staff training as top protective factors in 2000 and these also differed from the 1995 ratings. Regarding priorities for change, principals rated improvement of the academic program as their highest priority, followed by school safety and discipline improvement. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for local and state-level policy planning in education and government. We also address limitations of the current study and directions for future research.