Criminology School Crime and Violence
Allison Payne
  • LAST REVIEWED: 01 November 2010
  • LAST MODIFIED: 01 November 2010
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0120


Although school-related deaths, violent victimizations in school, and overall school crime have declined in recent years, delinquency and victimization in schools is still a considerable problem for students, faculty, and administrators. Aside from the obvious costs of school crime on property damage and loss and personal injury, school crime and disorder is costly because it reduces the ability of schools to carry out their educational mission, by reducing teacher and student attendance and students’ ability to concentrate and learn. In addition, teachers in disorderly schools spend a large proportion of their time coping with behavior problems rather than in academic instruction, which results in lower levels of student academic engagement, academic performance, and eventually graduation rates. Research has identified several factors related to school disorder that might be manipulated in efforts to reduce these problems; these include student attachment and commitment to school, teacher instructional and classroom management techniques, administrative and discipline policies, and school climate characteristics. This entry provides sources for information on school crime, including general overviews, sources of data, incidents and types, trends, risk and protective factors, theories about school crime, gender and racial differences, school safety, prevention of school crime, and news media coverage.

General Overviews

There are a number of resources that provide a comprehensive exploration of school crime and violence. Cornell 2006, Elliot, et al. 1998, Gottfredson 2001, and Lawrence 2006 approach this problem by examining the causes and nature of delinquency as well as school-based prevention strategies designed to create safer environments for students, faculty, and administrators. These books can be used as stand-alone texts on school crime and violence for undergraduate and graduate courses in education or criminology. In addition, these resources are suitable for scholars and school administrators. Devine 1996 offers a unique examination of inner-city schools. This ethnographic description of school crime and violence can be used as a tool for students and administrators alike. Furlong and Morrison 2000 provides a historical overview of crime and violence in American schools, with particular emphasis on defining school violence. Furlong, et al. 2004 examines methodological and measurement issues in school violence research and discusses topics such as bullying and weapons possession. Thomas 2006 also explores types of school violence as well as strategies to mediate these problems.

  • Cornell, Dewey G. 2006. School violence: Fears versus facts. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    An overview of youth violence in schools that explores causes of school crime and violence, misconceptions about school crime and violence, and school-based prevention strategies that work and those that do not work. This text is appropriate for all levels of study.

  • Devine, John. 1996. Maximum security: The culture of violence in inner-city schools. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

    An ethnographic description of school crime and violence in inner-city high schools. Issues relating to school safety, discipline, and the culture of violence are explored. Appropriate for all levels of study.

  • Elliot, Delbert S., Beatrix A. Hamburg, and Kirk R. Williams, eds. 1998. Violence in American schools: A new perspective. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    An exploration of youth violence in schools. Causes of delinquency in addition to school and community-based interventions are examined. Suitable for all levels of study as well as for school teachers and administrators.

  • Furlong, Michael, and Gale Morrison. 2000. The school in school violence: Definitions and facts. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders 8.2: 71–82.

    DOI: 10.1177/106342660000800203

    An analysis of the history and definition of school violence. Suitable for undergraduate and graduate students.

  • Furlong, Michael, Gale Morrison, Russell Skiba, and Dewey Cornell, eds. 2004. Issues in school violence research. New York: Haworth

    A critical examination of methodological and measurement issues in school violence research. Topics such as the identification of bullies and victims, weapons possession, and school-level warning signs of safety issues are explored. Suitable for graduate students and scholars.

  • Gottfredson, Denise C. 2001. Schools and delinquency. Cambridge studies in criminology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    A comprehensive examination of the causes of delinquency, dropout and truancy, substance misuse, and school-based prevention practices and programs for students in kindergarten through grade 12. Appropriate for undergraduate and graduate students.

  • Lawrence, Richard. 2006. School crime and juvenile justice. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    An overview of the causes, extent, and nature of delinquency and school crime. First edition published in 1998. Suitable for undergraduate and graduate studies.

  • Thomas, R. Murray. 2006. Violence in America’s schools: Understanding, prevention, and responses. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

    An assessment of violence in America’s schools, which includes types of school violence, the conditions that contribute to school violence, and strategies that can be used to combat these problems. Appropriate for all levels of study.

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