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). Engagement with school safety strategies were measured using the School Survey on Crime and Safety (NCES, 2016) (e.g., How often are you searched using a metal detector at school; How often do you interact with school security officer; How often do you participate in conflict resolution training; How often do you participate in student mentoring session). Students’ perceived safety was measured using Maryland’s Safe and Supportive Schools Initiative (Bradshaw, Waasdorp, Debnam, & Johnson, 2014) (e.g., I feel safe at this school; students carrying guns and knives is a problem at your school).
Results: Multi-group multivariate analysis revealed both white and non-white students feel less safe at their school when the frequency of interaction with security officer increases, and this negative effect becomes especially salient for the non-white student. White subgroup reported having problems of carrying guns and knives significantly less when engagement in mentoring session increases, whereas no effects were observed in the non-white subgroup. Overall, students feel safe at school when they reported all races in their school were treated fairly. Fair treatment in school safety was positively associated with engagement in peer mediation training, which in turn was correlated with students' perceptions of having enough programs for violence and conflict in their school.
Implication: The current study suggests that high-security environments (e.g., Servoss & Finn, 2014) that heavily rely on metal detectors, security personnel, and other authoritarian measures do not affect students’ safety level. Importantly, educational/therapeutic approaches (e.g., mentoring session) as outlined by Nickerson & Spears (2007) might particularly benefit white students over students of color. When developing these strategies, accessibility of resources must be considered and distributed evenly across the student population. School personnel, including administrators, educators, and officers, should consider how their students will have equal access to all strategies without concerning students’ feelings of inequality by race.