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
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.