Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Susan Caulfield

Second Advisor

Dr. David Hartmann

Third Advisor

Dr. Ronald Kramer

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Lynn Brice


In the last decade, several high-profile shootings in suburban school districts have drawn attention to the issue of school-based violence. Consequently, schools all over have responded in many ways. The literature reveals that many suburban and rural schools have adopted the same measures as have urban districts, despite the fact that their discipline and violence problems are qualitatively different. These responses have generally been punitive and technological in nature, rather than curricular or structural reforms. This has included institution of metal detectors, more restrictive student dress codes, zero tolerance laws and others. Some, though, have suggested that these responses may not be helpful; indeed, they may actually impact the school climate negatively and obscure the educational mission of the school. Thus more recent research has began to address the role of school climate in regards to school violence. While this is a positive development, few researchers have utilized teachers' voices as a source of information about school violence and responses to it, rather relying largely on the views of administrators. This research is a case study of teachers' perceptions of school violence issues at one small, rural high school. It focuses on their definitions and understanding of school violence, their perceptions of the changes made at their school as a result of fear or actual incidence of school-based violence and the validity of those responses. It also includes teachers' assessment of the overall school climate. The role that their school's physical structure plays in their feeling safe is explored as well. Data comes from focus group sessions as well as a School Climate survey. Overall results are presented, as well as disaggregated by seniority and gender.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access