Violence Prevention  in Rural Schools

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Changes occurring in rural communities. Despite the common stereotype of rural communities as places of serene stability, life in rural communities and small towns is subject to the same changing societal forces affecting the rest of America.. Changes occurring in rural communities. Major trends in rural America include:Changing structure of the familyRise in female-headed householdsIncreased mobility within societyChanging economic pictureIncreasingly diverse population.

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Violence Prevention in Rural Schools

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1. Violence Prevention in Rural Schools Challenges and Opportunities Presented by: Dr. Joy Renfro, Associate Professor Eastern Kentucky University Violence Prevention Project A subcontractor of the Hamilton Fish Institute on School and Community Violence

2. Changes occurring in rural communities Despite the common stereotype of rural communities as places of serene stability, life in rural communities and small towns is subject to the same changing societal forces affecting the rest of America.

3. Changes occurring in rural communities Major trends in rural America include: Changing structure of the family Rise in female-headed households Increased mobility within society Changing economic picture Increasingly diverse population

4. Rural School Trends Many communities lost their rural schools as school districts consolidated The number of school districts has decreased from 128,000 in 1930 to approximately 15,600 by the late 1990’s In rural areas that are adjacent to urban areas, schools are struggling to keep up with the influx of new students

5. Rural School Trends Most schools are rural schools In 1997-98, more public schools were classified as rural (21,636) than any other community type (e.g., large city, midsize, large town, small town, etc.) During the 1998-99 school year, 27.8% of children attended public schools in rural communities and small towns.

6. Rural School Trends Rural residents are less educated than urban residents. 23.5% of rural residents 18 and older do not have a high school diploma as compared to 17.4% of urban residents Rural youth are more likely to drop out of high school (20% rural vs. 15% urban); and rural youth are less likely to return to school or get a GED. Rural youth are less likely to go to college (23% rural vs. 29% urban) and are less likely to graduate from college (13% rural vs. 23% urban)

7. Rural Crime Facts In 1997, violent crimes in cities with populations of 1 million people or more dropped 6.2%, while rural counties experienced a 3.1% increase. The majority of arrestees in rural counties were white (79%) and over the age of 18 (88%). From 1993-1998, there has been less of a decrease in violent and property crime rates in rural areas than in urban and suburban areas, though overall violent crime rates are still lower in rural areas.

8. Rural Crime Facts Rural violent crime victims are less likely to be victimized by a stranger than urban or suburban victims. The percentage of homicides involving an intimate is greater in rural areas (21%) than in large cities (7%) Despite an overall decrease in homicide trends, most of the decrease has occurred in large cities with rural areas experiencing relatively little change in homicide prevalence.

9. Rural Crime Facts The most common location for rural victims of violent crime was their homes (18%). For urban and suburban areas, the most common areas were open places such as on the street, or in public transportation. Rural violent offenders are less likely (8%) than suburban (9%) or urban (12%) violent offenders to use a firearm.

10. Rural Crime Facts Rural residents of races other than black or white were twice as likely to be victims of violent crime as were black or white rural residents. The rates of victimization were: 31% white; 34% black; 68% other

11. Why Rural Matters… Kentucky Data The Appalachian Regional Education Laboratory (www.ael.org) has compiled profiles of the four states in their region and has found that Kentucky has: The highest percentage of rural adults with less than a 12th grade education The highest percentage of rural schools with declining enrollments. The third highest percentage of rural students who are free lunch eligible.

16. EKU School Partners In 1999, EKU partnered with three rural Kentucky high schools Freshmen in all three schools were surveyed using the National School Crime and Safety Survey

17. EKU School Partners Schools #2 & #3 are in the same county with a total population of 57,000 School #1 has a county population of 16,000 School #1 (in county #1) had a total number of 794 students – N (freshmen) = 238 School #2 had a total number of 971 students with N (freshmen) = 269 School #3 had a total number of 996 students with N (freshmen) = 280

18. EKU School Partners Median household income in county #1 = $21,156 Median household income in County #2 = $24,225

19. Percentage of children in poverty: County #1 = 38.5% County #2 = 30.4% Ky. average is 32% U.S. Average is 18% EKU School Partners

20. EKU School Partners Percentage of adults with no high school diploma County #1 – 55% County #2 – 44% Ky. Average is 50.9% Ky. Non-rural average is 37.8%

21. Problems facing rural schools It is a well-known fact that both community action and educational reform are needed to prevent violence. problems facing rural schools are strongly related to low economic conditions and low educational attainment by the adult role models in their lives.

22. Factors that place children at risk of delinquency Abuse, neglect and/or violence in the home Factors related to family functioning, including chemical and mental health problems, divorce, death, and other family upheaval Lack of supportive relationships or connections with adults and peers Criminal or delinquent histories of parents or siblings Early, severe anti-social behavior Poor school attendance, school failure Early first contact with police or documented incident of delinquency Open “child protective services” cases

23. Problems facing rural schools Unlike their urban counterparts rural schools may face a compounded, more difficult challenge… Along with a lack or resources (DeYoung & Lawrence, 1995), a commonly held belief in many rural schools is that they don’t have the problems of racism, violence and general decay that more metropolitan schools have (Herzog & Pittman, 1995). As a result, comprehensive programs to address problems of violent behavior in rural schools are not developed, nor are they addressed. If they are, they are usually fragmented approaches and have little chance of solving the problems.

24. Risk factors (continued) In a survey of three rural schools districts conducted by Petersen, Beekley, Speaker, and Pietrzak in 1996, researchers found that school personnel believed that the major elements related to school violence were: Lack of family involvement, supervision and family violence

25. Problems continued… If rural school administrators do not perceive violence as a problem that effects their school they are more likely to resist school violence prevention efforts or to put less effort into implementing these programs. Rural schools administrators may be more inclined to believe that the family should be the entity to deal with violent youth behaviors.

26. The link between academic performance and victimization among rural students Kingery, Pruitt, and Hurley (1996) found that poor academic performance appeared to be linked to victimization among rural students. Student who are victims of violence are also more likely to be aggressors Aggressive youth, in turn, are found to have lower IQ and academic performance(Griffin 1987), and low cognitive problem-solving skills. Therefore the relationship between violence and academic performance may be circular.

27. Our School’s Performance A national norm reference test used in Kentucky, the CTBS/5, measures the basic skills of our students while allowing us to compare their performance with national benchmarks established in 1996. Scores are shown in percentiles (percentage of students who fell below a particular score on the test).

28. Our School’s Academic Performance

29. Other Measures

30. EKU’s VP Project Design Two control schools and one intervention school The National School Crime and Safety Survey was administered on 4 occasions to all freshmen students Fall 1999, Spring 2000, Fall 2000, Spring 2001 Staff members at all three schools took the staff form of the survey in Spring of 2000 and Spring 2001

31. Participants…. 98.3% of the students who took the survey were freshmen at the initiation of the project and 98.3% were sophomores at the end of the 2-year project 196 were male (46.7% 224 were female (53.3%) 392 (95.1%) were White; 3 (.7%) were African-American; 1 Hispanic (.2%); 5 (1.2%) Other; and 11 (2.7%) Multi-ethnic

32. Living situation of students 272 – 65.5% living with Mom and Dad 92 – 22.2% Mom only 11 – 27.0% Dad only 40 – not living with Mom or Dad – 9.6% 27 – Other – 6.5%

33. Completion Rates Seven-hundred eighty-four (784) students began the study in Fall 1999 when they were Freshmen 321 completed all four surveys (41% response rate) 24 cases were bad matches and were eliminated from the remainder of the analysis 420 students were present in the school for the whole study and completed surveys at times 1 and 4 and one other time for a completion rate of 53.6%.

34. EKU’s VP Project Interventions included: School Coordinator to assist with all VP efforts at school – works closely with Youth Services Center Conflict resolution training for all freshmen SADD – student organization VP Curriculum for Adolescents – taught to all students referred for behavior problems Professional development session for teachers on “Importance of good student/teacher relationships” Enhancement of Character Education program School security audit/crisis response drill Committee who monitors violent incidents Purchased an interactive computer program – Relate for Teens

35. Results In fall of 1999, the intervention school had the highest scores in victimization, perpetration, and the willingness to fight. By May 2001 this trend was reversed so that the intervention school was lowest in victimization, perpetration, and willingness to fight. None of these trends were statistically significant, however the reduction in perpetration of .50 points is a reduction of about 1 incident of perpetration per student in a 30-day period. This finding then is significant in the experience of violence from the student’s perspective.

36. Victimization: Higher Score Equal More Victimization

37. Perpetration: Higher Score Equal More Perpetration

38. Motivation to Fight: Higher Score = More Motivation

39. Results - continued In addition to the surveys, structured interviews were conducted with groups of administrators, teachers, and students. These interviews revealed improved awareness of the administration toward issues related to school safety and violence prevention. Because of their improved awareness administrators had made changes in policies, and had increased their attention to safety and security within the school. It is our believe that the improved awareness, change in policies and increased attention to safety will ultimately result in changes that are statistically significant.

40. Comparison of the rural sample to an urban sample Comparison of Kentucky students to a group of students in Milwalkee, WI was done in order to gain a better understanding of how students in the rural schools compared to those in urban schools

41. Key findings Ky. vs. Milwaukee students Ky – N= 614 students Milwaukee – N =208 students In Ky 63.7% of these students lived with their mother and father In Milwaukee 36.1% of the students lived with mother and father

42. Kentucky and Milwaukee groups compared

43. Independent Samples Test

44. Differences of urban vs. rural sample There is no statistical differences in the propensity to fight Differences in victimization and perpetration are statistically significant at the .001 level and .014 level This is a major difference

45. Weapons carrying Kentucky students were more likely to carry weapons than were Milwaukee students. 68 out of 601 students (11.3) of Kentucky students reported bringing a knife to school within the last 30 days 0 Milwaukee students indicated that they had brought a knife to school within the last 30 days These results were significant at the .000 level

46. Weapons carrying Nine (1.5%) of Kentucky students reported that they had brought a gun to school within the last 30 days Zero Milwaukee students reported bringing a gun to school within the last 30 days

47. Teachers Milwaukee teachers felt there was less use of school safety measures and that they were more in danger than Kentucky teachers Milwaukee teachers perceived worse conditions at their schools than did the Kentucky teachers

48. Sense of Policy and Procedures that are Fair and Promote Safety Rules strictly enforced Students know rules Punishment is equal and unbiased Students receive appropriate punishment Students know punishments Student seldom receive fair hearings Teachers know rules Parents support school discipline efforts School personnel consistently report infractions Student infractions acted upon to satisfaction Punishment decided by at least 2 school officials Students rarely treat school personnel with respect School personnel respect students Students report rule infractions to school authorities School personnel express concern about victimized or afraid students School personnel carry unauthorized weapons

49. Sense of policy and procedures that are fair and promote safety On all the previously mentioned items – Ky teachers answered more positively than Milwaukee teachers except for two items: Ky teachers were more concerned (than Milwaukee teachers) about school personnel carrying unauthorized weapons, and being treated with less respect by students.

50. Discrepancies between students and teachers Teachers in Milwaukee sample perceived that their schools were not as safe as did the Ky. teachers Student surveys revealed however, that there was in fact more victimization and perpetration in Kentucky schools than in Milwaukee schools These results verify what was mentioned earlier in the DeYoung & Lawrence study That rural school leaders do not have a sense that there are problems in their schools This supports the belief that rural schools are likely to be more resistant to programs that target violence prevention

51. Future goals for those working with schools Create a positive school climate in which everyone respects each other Assist students in developing better academic skills Form relationships with student’s and families in order to assist with directing them toward appropriate community resources Work with other community agencies/companies to provide support to students and families Continue to implement violence prevention programs in the school(s).

52. References Appalachian Regional Educational Laboratory www.ael.org Hamilton Fish Institute, A Comprehensive Framework for School Violence Prevention – www.hamfish.org Kingery, P. M., Pruitt, B.E., Brizzolara, J.A., Heuberger, G. (1996). Violence Prevention in Rural Areas: Evidence of the Need for Educational Reform and Community Action, International Journal of Educational Reform, Vol. 5, No. 1. National Center for Education Statistics www.nces.ed.gov/pubs2000/digest99 National Center on Rural Justice and Crime Prevention – www.virtual.clemson.edu/groups/ncrj/ Petersen, G.J., Beekley, C.Z., Speaker, Kathyrne, M., Pietrzak, D. (1998). An Examination of Violence in Three Rural School Districts, Rural Educator, Vol. 19, No.3. Peterson, Reece L.; Skiba, Russell (Spring 2000). Creating School Climates that Prevent School Violence

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