Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Dr. Robert Schaefer
While the use of criminal justice courses and law-related education programs have been shown to serve as a crime prevention and deterrence mechanism against school crime and violence, and help students to gain positive experiences and attitudes toward law enforcement, many high schools still do not offer criminal justice courses. The purpose of this quasiexperimental study was to compare the attitudes of 12th-grade students from a school district in Massachusetts who took a criminal justice course to 12th-grade students from another school district in Massachusetts who did not to determine if there is a statistically significant difference between the groups. Reisig and Park's experience with police model guided this study. Data were collected using Hurst's survey with a purposive sample of 60 12th-grade students who were 18 years of age or older and 8 students who were below the age of 18 from two school districts in Massachusetts. Data were analyzed using two sample t test and one-way analysis of variance. Results indicated that there was no significant difference (p > .05) in 12th-grade students' attitudes toward the police between students who have taken a criminal justice course and students who have not, and no significant difference (p > .05) between male and female 12th-grade students' attitudes toward the police. A criminal justice course did not have an effect on student's attitudes toward the police, but other law-related education programs or students' contact with the police should be further investigated. The implications for positive social change are directed toward school district leaders to continue to look for ways to improve juveniles' attitudes toward police, but a course in the middle and high school curricula may not be the best way to spend those limited resources.