Youth Victimization: School Climate or Deviant Lifestyles?

Heather Zaykowski, University of Massachusetts Boston
Whitney D. Gunter, Western Michigan University


Despite much focus on school violence, there has been little research that explores the relationship between offending and victimization in various school climates. School climate theory suggests that the school’s social system, culture, milieu and ecological structure impact student outcomes including academic performance, delinquency and more recently, victimization. Hierarchical analysis of data from 5,037 11th grade students in 33 schools found that offending behavior was the strongest predictor for both minor and more serious forms of victimization. School climate, specifically the social cohesion of schools, reduced serious violent victimization risk. However, school climate did not impact the relationship between offending and victimization, and was not substantially modified when characteristics of the school environment were considered.