Date of Conferral

2019

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Kimberley Cox

Abstract

School violence is a growing concern and an impending danger for American youth. Students' perceptions of violent school incidents may lead to fear and this fear may lead to school avoidance. Although researchers have found that teenage pregnancy and working to support family are two of the main reasons that students stay home from school, there has been no research conducted on whether students' perceptions of safety concerns, solely focusing on the presence of guns, gangs, student bullying, and fear of victimization, predict their decision to stay home from school. Therefore, based on social disorganization and resilience theories, the purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the role of high school students' perceptions of safety concerns in school on avoidance behavior, specifically, their decision to stay home from school due to thinking they may be attacked or harmed in a school building, on school property, on a school bus, or going to and from school. Archival data from a sample of 4,767 American youth, 12-18 years of age, who participated in the 2015 School Crime Supplement Survey were analyzed using logistic regression. Findings revealed that students' perception of gangs, student bullying, and fear of victimization led to school avoidance. This study has important implications for positive social change: The findings can be used by government entities, communities, schools, administrators, students, and parents to inform efforts designed to maintain a safe school environment.

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