The role of the perceptions of school climate and teacher victimization by students


Violence directed toward teachers in schools is relatively understudied in comparison with other school-based forms of peer aggression (e.g., school bullying). Based on the nationally representative Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) 2011-2012, approximately 10 percent of K-12 public school teachers in the United States, received a threat in the past 12 months and 6 percent reported being physically attacked. The effects of teacher-directed violence are far reaching and affect not just the victimized teacher, but the larger community itself. In the current study, we used multilevel logistic regression models with state fixed effects to analyze the SASS data set. The analytic sample consisted of 24,070 K-12 teachers in 4,610 public schools and specifically excluded special education teachers and teachers in alternative settings (i.e., online schools, special education centers, juvenile correction facilities). Guided by authoritative school climate theory, we tested for the beneficial associations of disciplinary structure and administrative support with the reduced likelihood of a teacher being threatened or physically attacked by a student, while controlling for teacher (e.g., gender, years of experience, race/ethnicity), school (e.g., school size, percent minority enrollment), and state-level factors. Results indicated that teachers who felt supported by the administration and worked with others (i.e., the principal and other teachers) who enforced the rules consistently were less likely to be victims of threats of injury or physical attacks. Although school climate has been shown to have a positive effect on student outcomes, the current study also suggests that school climate, characterized by consistent rule enforcement and supportive administrators and teachers, may play a role in reducing the likelihood of teacher victimization.

Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Advance online publication.