Abstract: Correlates of Teacher-Directed Violence: Examining School Experiences By Race (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

640P Correlates of Teacher-Directed Violence: Examining School Experiences By Race

Sunday, January 16, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Bo-Kyung Elizabeth Kim, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Kevin Tan, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Karl Hill, PhD
Rick Kosterman, PhD
Background: Teacher-directed violence is a less understood problem that requires the urgent attention of policymakers, administrators, and social work practitioners alike. In a national study of K-12 teachers, over 75% of the teachers reported being victimized by students, with 73% reporting harassment and 44% reporting physical attacks (McMahon et al., 2012). While school violence is widely studied, the vast majority of studies have focused on preventing student-to-student violence and much less is known about violence against teachers. Many studies have documented the racialized school experiences of students of color (e.g., less recognition, more criticism, marginalization, etc.). Thus, it is imperative to understand potentially disparate school experiences by race. This study uses longitudinal data to identify early risk and protective factors for teacher-directed violence and examines differences by race.

Methods: Data come from the Seattle Social Development Project, a multiethnic and gender-balanced urban panel of 808 participants. Teacher victimization included hitting the teacher reported by youth in each grade from 5th grade through 10th grade, then 12th grade. We performed a generalized linear mixed model analysis for a repeated measures design where the incidence of hitting a teacher at each grade (0/1) is regressed on race and risk/protective factors as between-subject effect and grade as within-subject effect. We first examined bivariate relationships across all variables, then included, sex and free lunch eligibility as covariates, and risk/protective factors as predictors.

Results: At the bivariate level, compared to White children, Black children were 85% (OR=1.85; 95% CI: 1.30-2.64) more likely to report hitting a teacher, while Asian children were 69% (OR= 0.31; 95% CI: 0.16 - 0.61) less likely. Children with higher levels of having opportunities for prosocial involvement (OR=0.50; 95% CI: 0.37-0.67) and receiving recognition for prosocial involvement (OR=0.47; 95% CI: 0.37-0.60) in school during 5th grade were significantly less likely to report teacher-directed violence at each grade level. Controlling for sex and free lunch status as well as the levels of opportunities and recognition for prosocial involvement, racial disparities continued to persist, with small reduction in the odds ratio. Recognition for prosocial involvement during 5th grade (OR=0.56; 95% CI: 0.39-0.82) consistently emerged as a strong predictor for teacher-directed violence.

Conclusion: The findings of this study, spanning from early to late adolescence, highlight the need for early school-wide evidence-based prevention programs targeting risk and protective factors that mitigate and prevent teacher-directed violence. Efforts to prevent teacher victimization should focus on creating a positive school climate through increasing opportunities for youth to engage in prosocial activities as well as adequate rewards for a job well done. Findings also indicate strong racial disparities in the influence of school factors on teacher victimization. Prevention programs need to explicitly aim racially equitable outcomes. The role of racialized school context (e.g., more severe discipline for Black students, perceived unfairness) that students of color experience will be discussed.