School climate and school sector: utilizing a mixed methods approach to examine bullying and fear among students

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University of Delaware
Bullying has received increased attention from academics, scholars, and the media over the past decade and a half. The effects of bullying can be devastating and long-lasting for victims and bullies alike. Recent prevention efforts and research has focused on the school environment as a whole. A second area that has recently grown in the school literature is the focus on fear. While fear of crime is not a new area of study, it is only recently that scholars have investigated this phenomenon within schools. As such, one area of interest that could affect both bullying and fear is the role of school climate. The purpose of this study was to understand how the school environment--through school climate--affects students' experiences of bullying victimization and fear of being harmed. This research will contribute to the literature on both bullying and fear by examining the role of school sector through a mixed methods approach analyzing the School Crime Supplement and open-ended responses collected specifically for this project. Mixed methods are beneficial to this project as they provide a well-rounded understanding of students' perceptions of school climate and its effects on bullying prevention and increased feelings of safety. Quantitative findings suggest that a positive school climate predicts less reporting of bullying incidents and decreased feelings of fear. Qualitative analyses add an additional layer to this research by highlighting several measures students believe schools can take to reduce both bullying and experiences of fear.