Prevalence of aggressive attitudes and willingness to report threats in middle school


Violence prevention strategies such as threat assessment rely on information from students; however, students are often unwilling to report threats of violence to school authorities. The current study investigated the hypothesis that middle school students are less likely to report threats of violence when they perceive aggressive behavior as a source of status and popularity among their peers. Our statewide sample consisted of 39,364 7th and 8th graders who completed school climate surveys in 423 schools. Students completed a measure of aggressive attitudes and were asked how much they agreed or disagreed with 2 statements concerning threats of violence: (a) “If another student brought a gun to school, I would tell one of the teachers or staff at school,” and (b) “If another student talked about killing someone, I would tell one of the teachers or staff at school.” Multilevel logistic regression analyses, which controlled for student and school demographics, found that higher levels of aggressive attitudes at both the school and student level were associated with a lower likelihood of reporting threat behavior.

Journal of Threat Assessment and Management, 2, 11–22.