Explaining Objective Level and Subjective Levels of Strain in the School Context

Joseph Nopper, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

The purpose of this paper is to explore strain within the in the context of the school setting, using Agnews' General Strain Theory (GST) to identify both the objective and subjective levels of strain within the school context. Objective levels of strain will be examined through vignettes, hypothetical situations describing acts of school violence and victimization. Students will be asked to read a scenario and then answer questions to evaluate how students identify and respond to events in school that expose them to different levels of strain. These vignettes will highlight the consequences of strain in school violence and victimization, such as frustration, anger, perceived injustice, etc.. These vignettes are based on examples taken from media reports regarding incidents of school violence, ranging from the extreme (Columbine) to peer bullying and harassment. The subjective levels of strain will be evaluated through the use of a self-report survey to identify the characteristics of those students who are most affected by negative events within school. It is hypothesized that there will be a relationship between the identification of vignettes as being strainful and self-reported higher levels of strain.

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Updated 05/20/2006