Methods: Data were collected from ninth-grade students across one inner-city school district in the greater New York City area (N=323). The mean age was 14.31 (Range: 13 – 17); 72.1% of students reporting as non-white (24.5% reported as African-American, 61.3% Hispanic, and 88.5% received free/discounted lunch). Variables included student characteristics, student engagement with school safety practices (e.g., “How often do you interact with your school security officer?”); and student misbehavior (e.g., “How often have you engaged in a physical attack/fight?”).
Results: Non-white students were significantly more likely to check in to the front desk, X2(3, N=255)=7.95, p<.05, more likely to interact with their school’s security officer, X2(3, N=251)=8.64, p<.05, and more likely to be limited in access to social networking at school X2(3, N= 250)=7.75, p=.05. When controlling for age, gender, behavior, and socioeconomic status, logistic regression identified the odds of checking into the front desk were higher for the African-American group (OR=3.62, 95% CI [1.76, 7.42]; p < .05) compared to that of the White and Hispanic groups. The African-American group were more likely to use a structured anonymous threat reporting system (OR=5.32, 95% CI [1.57, 17.93], p < .05) and had significantly higher odds of being randomly searched for contraband at school (OR=2.94, 95% CI [1.06, 8.11], p < .05) when compared to their Hispanic and White counterparts.
Implications for Practice: Considering the racial/ethnic distribution of the district from which these data were collected, these findings seemingly contradict the historically applied racial threat hypothesis (Blolock, 1967). However, they support the theory of implicit racial bias (e.g., Nance, 2016). Programming rooted in this framework might be beneficial to inner-city schools dealing with disparate outcomes as a result of school safety (e.g., Devine, Forscher, Austin, & Cox, 2012). Findings suggests community-level agents must increase awareness of racial disparities within communities so parents and other stakeholders can have an educated "say" in school safety programming. Preparedness and training of community-level practitioners in collaborating with law enforcement and juvenile court officials to identify school- and community-level needs might also be promising in addressing school-level disparities. Implications for social work will be provided.