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159 The landscape of school-based violence in pennsylvania
  1. Kalen Flynn,
  2. Douglas Wiebe,
  3. Amber Wilson,
  4. Julie Hyman
  1. University of Pennsylvania, US


Statement of purpose School-based violence, including violence en route to and from school, can make students afraid to go to school and frequently results in serious injury. Efforts to prevent violence in the school setting are typically not targeted but are rather deployed in the general contexts of school more broadly (i.e. metal detectors, security guards). Understanding the nuances of violence in schools across a state with rural, suburban, and urban settings could aid in the creation of more targeted violence prevention programs.

Methods A cluster analysis was conducted on data on school-based violence in all public and charter schools in Pennsylvania. Thirty variables reflecting specific types of school-based violence were analysed by rural, suburban, and urban settings and school type.

Results The dendrogram showed that two broad themes emerged: violent incidents involving weapons were more likely to occur in urban and suburban settings, and incidents involving drugs and threats of violence were more likely to occur in rural settings.

Conclusion Results revealed that types of violent incidents were clustered by setting. For example, aggravated assaults were more likely to occur in urban settings, whereas possessing a knife was more likely to occur in a rural setting.

Significance to Injury/Prevention Research This study furthers our understanding of school-based violence and could pave the way for more targeted interventions. Valuable next steps will include reviewing the results with school teachers, administrators, and students for their impressions of whether and how school features relate to whether levels of violence or safety are high or low in a given school or in specific contexts, times, and locations in and around school environments.

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