Multi-Level Context of School Crime: An Analysis of Individual, School and Community Level Factors

Megan Kurlychek, The Pennsylvania State University

This study employs multi-level modelng techniques to explore the relative contributions of individual, school and community factors on levels of school crime in a longitudinal nationally representative sample. While developmental theory suggests that individual characteristic determine propensity for offending whether within or outside of school, sociological theories such as social disorganization and routine activities suggest that particular environments may increase delinquency rates above and beyond consideration of individual characteristics. To date, studies of school crime have not utilized sufficient samples or analysis techniques to disengage the possible relative contributions of the school environment from that of the surrounding community. Utilizing data from the National Educational Longitudinal Survey for the years 1988 to 1994, individual and school level variables are obtained from tbe student and school administrator surveys respectively. Identifiers for each school are then used to bring in community level characteristics computed from the 1990 census. Analyses also consider the possibility of alternative causal patterns for different types of delinquency (misconduct, substance abuse, property crime and interpersonal violence). Findings from this research are important in further specifying the causal mechanisms behind various types of school disorder and crime as well as for informing school safety policies and programs.

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Updated 05/20/2006