Preparedness levels of middle school teachers, assistant principals, and principals to respond to acts of violence in a Mississippi school district

Judy Ann Boyd

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the preparedness levels of middle school teachers, assistant principals, and principals to respond to acts of violence. Violence has existed since the beginning of organized education. School violence has increased more than 50% in the last 10 years. The murder rate among 14-to 17-year-olds increased 165% from 1985 to 1995, according to a 1995 U.S. Justice Department report on juvenile offenders and their victims (Kadel, Watkins, Follman, & Hanunond, 1999). The instrument used for this study was a researcher-created survey with some modified questions taken from the survey found in the Mississippi School Safety Manual Appendix II (Mississippi Department of Education Office of Safe and Orderly Schools and Mississippi Office of Attorney General, 2005). The questionnaire contained a total of40 questions, with questions being based on a 4-point and 5-point Likert scale. The questionnaire asked for teacher experiences, student experiences, preparedness level, and ranking problems within the school, as well as demographic information, The questionnaire results were analyzed by calculating the means, standard deviations, independent samples t-test, and Pearson correlation. There were ancillary findings showing a correlation between seriousness and occurrences and student reports and seriousness. A Pearson correlation was also used to analyze this data. Once the data was analyzed, it was determined that middle school teachers, assistant principals, and principals perceive themselves as prepared to respond to acts of violence. The number of years of experience does not have a direct effect on the level of preparedness in dealing with acts of violence. The teachers who are assigned to the alternative school stated that they have the same preparation as teachers who are assigned to traditional middle school settings. The performance classification of a school did not have a direct effect on the preparedness levels of teachers, assistant principals, or principals. There was not a correlation between the number of occurrences reported by students and the preparedness levels of teachers, assistant principals, and principals. There also was no correlation between the number of occurrences and the preparedness level of teachers, assistant principals, and principals.