One School, Multiple Perspectives on School Safety
In each school, victimization can be perceived from multiple perspectives. Depending on the individual’s social role in the school, acts of victimization potentially take on different meanings. Alternatively, it is quite possible that students, teachers, and principals generally see victimization in similar ways. Does divergence or convergence of multiple perspectives in the same school have implications for the safety of the school? To date, there is very little research or conceptual work on multiple perspectives on school violence (see Astor, Meyer, et al., 1999, for one example of a qualitative study exploring multiple perspectives of school violence). We could not find any representative quantitative studies exploring the perspectives of students, teachers, and principals in the same schools.
In previous chapters we focused on the students’ reports of their school victimization and their perceptions with regard to school climate and violence. In this chapter we bring in the perspectives of homeroom teachers and principals on these issues and examine the similarity of these three points of view.
These contrasts are important for several reasons. The converging or diverging multiple perspectives of school safety in the same school can help validate (or invalidate) the assessments made by each of the members of a particular school community. Although we expect students, teachers, and principals to have unique vantage points, we also expect similarities between the groups. More important, we believe that research should explore any systematic patterns that exist between students’, teachers’, and principals’ perspectives as they relate to the safety of the school. As far as we know, these kinds of questions have not been addressed in any study.
We have specific hypotheses about the relationships between multiple perspectives and school safety. The degree of similarity between the three perspectives can tell us about how the school is functioning. Large gaps and disagreements between staff and students or between a principal and teachers may indicate that the school