Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Fear-Victimization Gap at School

Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Fear-Victimization Gap at School

By: Alexandra de Leon Date: May 26th, 2022

A new study examined the racial and ethnic differences in adolescents’ fear of attacks or harm at school after adjusting for differences in violent victimization prevalence.

Researchers from Penn State University and the University of Washington Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center analyzed over 49,000 surveys from over 35,000 students who took the National Crime Victimization Survey’s School Crime Supplement. They tested to see whether differences in fear were attributable to youths’ experiences with non-criminal harms, indirect exposure to crime and violence at their school, or school security and disciplinary practices.

Researchers found Black and Hispanic youth had 93% and 74% higher odds than White youth of expressing fear at school, after adjusting for violent victimization and demographic characteristics.

After accounting for non-criminal harms, exposure to crime and violence, and school security/discipline, Black and Hispanic youth had only 39% and 44% higher odds than White youth of expressing fear, respectively.

“These results suggest that—compared to White youth—Black and Hispanic youth perceive violent victimization as a greater threat in school even after accounting for differences in violent victimization history,” says HIPRC trainee Keith Hullenaar, PhD, MS.

Furthermore, exposure to crime and violence and security/disciplinary policies are important for understanding racial/ethnic differences in the gap between fear and school victimization.

“We found that exposure to crime and violence at school, especially the presence of gangs, was most important for understanding racial/ethnic differences in fear of violence at school,” says lead author Allison Kurpiel, MS.

Funding for this research was made possible by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to Barry Ruback (Grant 2017-JF-FX-K029).

Other authors on this study include Richard Barry Ruback, MA, from Penn State University.

This study was published May 2022 in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

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