When school violence occurs, major negative impacts on students’ personal and academic well-being can result. Equipped with information on the causes and consequences of school violence, we can improve strategies to prevent school violence and ameliorate its detrimental effects, thereby establishing safer learning environments.
A recent NIJ-funded study by researchers addresses what we know about the causes of school violence and the consequences of school violence for those who commit or are victimized by it, and for those who are both victimized by and commit violence. With coverage of past and contemporary literature spanning multiple disciplines, the study offers one of the most comprehensive reviews of school violence research to date. Reviewing twenty years of empirical studies, researchers identified the most significant likely causes and consequences of school violence perpetration and victimization. The findings resulting from the study can:
- Help educators and others improve strategies to prevent and reduce school violence.
- Direct researchers next steps to improve our understanding of the causes and consequences of school violence.
Pulling Together What the Research on School Violence Tells Us
Prior research has found that factors at the individual (e.g., mental health status, relationship with parents), school (e.g., school climate, school disorder), and community (e.g., economic deprivation, crime) levels are related to school violence. Though a great deal of research has identified potential sources and effects of school violence, efforts to comprehensively aggregate and identify gaps in our knowledge have been limited.
To fill this gap, researchers from Florida State University explored and analyzed studies that investigated K-12 school violence’s correlates and consequences. The researchers first defined school violence as “the threat or use of force with the intention of causing harm, either at school or during school-related activities.” They then reviewed 55 systematic reviews published between 2000-2020. To supplement this review, they qualitatively summarized the results of 362 recent empirical studies — some of which were funded under NIJ’s Comprehensive School Safety Initiative — published between 2018-2020. Since students may engage in, or be victimized by, violence at school, the researchers assessed the predictors and consequences of in-school violence, victimization, and related behaviors perpetrated by or against students. The researchers also considered the individual, school, and community factors with the strongest and weakest relationships with school violence.