228727 Violation of school behavioral policies and its relationship with crime: Contextual effects of social organization in schools

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 10:50 AM - 11:10 AM

Marizen Ramirez, PhD , Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Jingzhen Yang, PhD, MPH , Community and Behavioral Health, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Rizaldy Ferrer, PhD , Children Youth and Family Services Consortium, Alliant International University, Alhambra, CA
Gang Cheng, MS , Department of Biostatistics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Joseph Cavanaugh, PhD , Biostatistics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Corinne Peek-Asa, PhD, MPH , Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Under the theory of social disorganization, environments with poor social control are at increased risk for crime. Schools enact behavioral policies, such as anti-truancy, dress code and anti-substance use policies, to enhance social control and create safe environments. The purpose of this study is to measure the association between school behavioral policy violations and school crime. We collected behavioral policy violations and crime from security reports maintained by a South Los Angeles school district of 19,365 students during two school years (2003-2005). Weekly counts of policy violations and crime were modeled utilizing a Generalized Estimating Equations with an autoregressive correlation structure. School policies were violated at a rate of 42 policy violations/1000 students, with truancy most frequent (25.3/1000). Crimes occurred at a rate of 65 incidents/1000 students. Higher rates of school policy violations were associated with higher rates of school crime. The strongest association was between substance use violations and crime (high school: RR=3.4, 95% CL=2.6-4.6, middle school: RR=3.8, CL=2.6-5.4, elementary schools: RR=2.4, 95% CL=1.6-3.6). A one-unit increase in the truancy rate was associated with a 6-fold increase in the crime rate at the middle school and a 10% increase at the high school, but had no apparent association with crime in elementary schools. A one-unit increase in dress code violation rates was linked to a 20% increase in crime at the high school. These results suggest that adherence to universal school policies may enhance school safety.

Learning Objectives:
Describe a conceptual model for understanding how social control affects school violence, using the theory of social disorganization and socio-ecologic models Explain the association between behavioral policies and school violence

Keywords: Violence, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an injury researcher with the institution that funded and conducted this research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.