Trending Topic Research File: Bullying Prevention and School Safety
Trending Topic Research File: Bullying Prevention and School Safety
Bullying Prevention and School Safety

Trending Topic Research File

Bullying presents one of the greatest health risks to children, youth, and young adults in U.S. society today. School safety, including the prevention is bullying, is a top national priority and a key area of academic research. In recent years, AERA and its journals have examined many aspects of bullying and school safety, including:

● Effects on academic performance
● Role in school climate
● Bullying and LGBTQ youth
● Strategies and procedures for prevention

The following compendium of open-access articles includes AERA journal content on bullying and school safety published since 2004. This page will be updated as new articles are published.  

In addition, the AERA peer-reviewed report Prevention of Bullying in Schools, Colleges, and Universities (2013) addresses legislative, policy, and procedural matters with pragmatic and practical strategies for bullying prevention. It is presented as a series of 11 briefs, written by leading scholars on the topic. 

AERA Journal Articles

Note: Articles are listed below in reverse chronological order of publication. 

The Right to Belong in School: A Critical, Transdisciplinary Conceptualization of School Belonging
Paul J. Kuttner,
AERA Open, July 2023
This article explores six aspects of belonging that are underemphasized in the school belonging literature, arguing that we should think of school belonging as agentic, intersectional, systemic, political, place-based, and a right.

Do Perceptions of School Climate Improve in High School for Students With Disabilities?
Spenser Gwozdzik, Leanna Stiefel
American Educational Research Journal, May 2023
Researchers found that students perceive improvements in school climate when they transition to high school, school characteristics do mediate perceptions, and perceptions of general education students (GENs) improve more (or decline less) than those of students with disabilities, resulting in gaps favoring GENs.

A Web of Punishment: Examining Black Student Interactions With School Police in Los Angeles
Terry Allen, Pedro Noguera
Educational Researcher, March 2023
Researchers found two self-reinforcing pathways: (1) soft coercion, when care and courtesy meet preemptive criminalization to produce punitive policing, and (2) shielding, when referrals to school police officers by school personnel shift blame onto students and invite the use of punitive policing without care. These findings underscore the racialized and contextually specific nature of school policing’s social and spatial processes for Black students in low-income communities.

The Politics of Belonging and Implications for School Organization: Autophotographic Perspectives on “Fitting In” at School
Jeff Walls, Karen Seashore Louis
AERA Open, January 2023
Researchers found four themes regarding students’ sense of membership at school: (a) the importance of spaces where belonging is noncontingent; (b) the distinction between calm spaces and surveilled spaces; (c) anxiety in public, “wild” spaces where no help was available; and (d) generally positive but mixed impressions of teachers.

Preservice Teachers’ Knowledge and Attitudes Toward Bullying: A Systematic Review
Molly Dawes, Colleen Gariton, Angela Starrett, Greysi Irdam, Matthew J. Irvin
Review of Educational Research, May 2022
Results suggest that few preservice teachers understand the hallmarks of bullying. In terms of their attitudes toward bullying, most preservice teachers report they are concerned about bullying, but some still believe it to be a normal part of growing up.

“A Place for Everybody”: Students’ Perspectives on Inclusive Behavior in School
Gary N. Siperstein, Staci C. Ballard, Holly E. Jacobs, Jason Rodriquez, Timothy P. Shriver
Educational Researcher, May 2022
Using data from 30 focus groups conducted with students, the findings expand on three primary themes: students’ broad descriptions of inclusive behavior, their understanding of the qualities and characteristics of an inclusive person, and their beliefs about what makes a school inclusive. 

When Empathy Leads to Passive Bystanding or Defending of the Victim in a Bullying Situation: Interaction With the Perceived Popularity of the Bully
Boungho Choi, Soowon Park
Educational Researcher, January 2021
Researchers found that high affective empathy positively predicted defending negatively predicted passive bystanding regardless of the perceived popularity of the bully.

Student Mobility and Violent Crime Exposure at Baltimore City Public Elementary Schools
Julia Burdick-Will, Kiara Millay Nerenberg, Jeffrey A. Grigg, Faith Connolly
American Educational Research Journal, November 2020
Researchers found that students are more likely to leave following years with higher levels of violent crime at their school. These associations are strongest for students ineligible for free or reduced-price meals and from safer neighborhoods.

Who Engages in Gender Bullying? The Role of Homophobic Name-Calling, Gender Pressure, and Gender Conformity
Salvatore Ioverno, Dawn DeLay, Carol Lynn Martin, Laura D. Hanish
Educational Researcher, October 2020
This study examined whether bullies’ gender conformity, pressure to conform to gender norms (felt pressure), and experiences of homophobic name-calling are associated with a tendency to bully gender conforming victims (GCV) and gender non-conforming victims (GNCV).

Measuring School Climate: Validating the Education Department School Climate Survey in a Sample of Urban Middle and High School Students
Renee Ryberg, Sarah Her, Deborah Temkin, Rebecca Madill, Claire Kelley, Joy Thompson, Alexander Gabriel
AERA Open, August 2020
At the school level, the findings suggested a simpler factor structure for the engagement and environment domains of the survey, and could not identify a reasonable well-fitting model for the safety domain.

Can a Positive School Climate Promote Student Attendance? Evidence From New York City
Daniel Hamlin
American Educational Research Journal, May 2020
The study found small associations among the four measures of perceived school climate and student attendance.

“I’m a Teacher, I’m Gonna Always Protect You”: Understanding Black Educators’ Protection of Black Children
Maxine McKinney de Royston, Tia C. Madkins, Jarvis R. Givens, Na’ilah Suad Nasir
American Educational Research Journal, May 2020
The analyses showed how Black educators disrupt the racialized harm produced within schools to instead (re)position Black students as children worthy of protection via caring relationships, alternative discipline policies, and other interpersonal and institutional mechanisms.

Intrastate and Interstate Influences on the Introduction and Enactment of Campus Carry Legislation, 2004–2016
David R. Johnson, Liang Zhang
Educational Researcher, January 2020
Researchers found that active shooter incidents, the percentage of Republicans in state government, citizen political ideology, and policy diffusion influence the introduction of campus carry legislation.

The Impossibility of Being “Perfect and White”: Black Girls’ Racialized and Gendered Schooling Experiences
Dorinda J. Carter Andrews, Tashal Brown, Eliana Castro, Effat Id-Deen
American Educational Research Journal, May 2019
This study explored how Black girls describe and understand their school experiences as racialized and gendered and the ways a conversation space allows Black girls’ meaning making about and critical examination of individual and collective schooling experiences.

“A Different Kind of Activism”: The University of Florida Committee on Sexism and Homophobia, 1981–1992
Brittney L. Beck
American Educational Research Journal, January 2019
The study is designed to illuminate the quieter role faculty and staff in higher education played in sustaining the civil rights and human dignities of queer people at UF during a time when students’ activism had lost momentum.

School Teasing and Bullying After the Presidential Election
Francis L. Huang, Dewey G. Cornell
Educational Researcher, January 2019
Researchers found that in localities favoring the Republican candidate, there were higher adjusted rates of students reporting that (a) they had experienced some form of bullying in the past year and (b) “students in this school are teased or put down because of their race or ethnicity.”

Racial Identity, Racial Discrimination, and Classroom Engagement Outcomes Among Black Girls and Boys in Predominantly Black and Predominantly White School Districts
Seanna Leath, Channing Mathews, Asya Harrison, Tabbye Chavous
American Educational Research Journal, January 2019
Researchers found that racial discrimination was negatively associated with academic curiosity and persistence, but this effect was moderated by gender and racial identity.

School Climate, Student Engagement, and Academic Achievement: A Latent Variable, Multilevel Multi-Informant Examination
Tim Konold, Dewey Cornell, Yuane Jia, Marisa Malone
AERA Open, November 2018
Researchers found that consistent with the authoritative school climate model, both structure and student support were associated with higher student engagement in schools. Moreover, student engagement was directly associated with academic achievement and operated as an intervening factor.

A Research Synthesis of the Associations Between Socioeconomic Background, Inequality, School Climate, and Academic Achievement
Ruth Berkowitz, Hadass Moore, Ron Avi Astor, Rami Benbenishty
Review of Educational Research, November 2016
Positive climate was found to mitigate the negative contribution of weak SES background on academic achievement; however, most studies do not provide a basis for deducing a directional influence and causal relations.

Are Charter Schools Safer in Deindustrialized Cities With High Rates of Crime? Testing Hypotheses in Detroit
Daniel Hamlin
American Educational Research Journal, May 2017
This study compares  charter and traditional public schools in Detroit, Michigan, on perceived school safety by linking student surveys to data on school, neighborhood, and parent-related characteristics.

A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Interventions Aimed to Prevent or Reduce Violence in Teen Dating Relationships
Lisa De La Rue, Joshua R. Polanin, Dorothy L. Espelage, Terri D. Pigott
Review of Educational Research, February 2017
School programs influence student behaviors regarding violence prevention in dating relationships, researchers found.


A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Cyber-Victimization and Educational Outcomes for Adolescents

Joseph H. Gardella, Benjamin W. Fisher, Abbie R. Teurbe-Tolon
Review of Educational Research, January 2017
Associations between cyber-victimization and higher school attendance problems, along with academic achievement challenges, were discovered.


Do Top Dogs Rule in Middle School? Evidence on Bullying, Safety, and Belonging
Amy Ellen Schwartz, Leanna Stiefel, Michah W. Rothbart
American Educational Research Journal, October 2016
The article details how "top dog" status improves the learning environment and academic achievement

Testing the Causal Links Between School Climate, School Violence, and School Academic Performance: A Cross-Lagged Panel Autoregressive Model
Rami Benbenishty, Ron Avi Astor, Ilan Roziner, Stephani L. Wrabel
Educational Researcher, April 2016
Researchers discovered that a school’s overall enhancement in academic performance reduces violence and improves a school’s climate.

Data Needs for Emerging Research Issues in Bully and Violence Prevention
Dorothy Espelage  
AERA Open, September 2015
In this article, a social-ecological framework is briefly described as a way to understand bullying and school violence; and data that assess bullying and/or school violence are described, and recommendations for additional items are proposed.

The Effect of High School Shootings on Schools and Student Performance
Louis-Philippe Beland, Dongwoo Kim  
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, July 2015
Through analyzing the impact of fatal shootings in high schools, researchers found that homicidal shootings significantly decrease the enrollment of students in Grade 9 and decrease test scores in math and English standardized tests.

Guidance for Schools Selecting Antibullying Approaches: Translating Evidence-Based Strategies to Contemporary Implementation Realities
Nadia S. Ansary, Maurice J. Elias, Michael B. Greene, Stuart Green
Educational Researcher , January/February 2015
This article synthesizes current research on bullying prevention and intervention to provide guidance to schools seeking to select and implement anti-bullying strategies.

The Effects of Adolescent Health-Related Behavior on Academic Performance: A Systematic Review of Longitudinal Evidence
Vincent Busch, Anne Loyen, Mandy Lodder, Augustinus J. P. Schrijvers, Tom A. van Yperen, Johannes R. J. de Leeuw   
Review of Educational Research, January 2014
This article synthesizes empirical, longitudinal literature dating to 1992 that investigates the effects of the most predominant health-related behaviors among adolescence students, including bullying.

A Review of School Climate Research
Amrit Thapa, Jonathan Cohen, Shawn Guffey, Ann Higgins-D’Alessandro   
Review of Educational Research, April 2013
This article presents an integrative review on school climate research, including bullying.

Bullying Explains Only Part of LGBTQ-Heterosexual Risk Disparities: Implications for Policy and Practice
Joseph P. Robinson, Dorothy L. Espelage 
Educational Researcher, November 2012
The extent to which LGBTQ youths’ higher rates of victimization can explain these youths’ greater rates of suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and unexcused absences from school is explored in this article, with the authors finding that policies aimed at simply reducing bullying may not be effective.

Why Do School Order and Safety Matter?
Dewey G. Cornell, Matthew J. Mayer
Educational Researcher, January 2010
Setting the stage for a special issue of Educational Researcher, this article recasts the study of school violence into the broader framework of school safety and order.

How Safe Are Our Schools?
Matthew J. Mayer, Michael J. Furlong 
Educational Researcher, January 2010
Calling for a 10-year national strategic plan to improve school safety, this article identifies conceptual and methodological challenges that must be addressed.

What Can Be Done About School Bullying?
Susan M. Swearer, Dorothy L. Espelage, Tracy Vaillancourt, Shelley Hymel  
Educational Researcher, January 2010
In this article, the authors review research on individual, peer, and school contributions that may be critical factors for enhancing efforts to address bullying among students, concluding with a proposal for a broader model of school bullying based on the emerging literature.

What Can Be Done About School Shootings? A Review of the Evidence
Randy Borum, Dewey G. Cornell, William Modzeleski, Shane R. Jimerson  
Educational Researcher, January 2010
This article counters the impression that schools are unsafe for many students by examining empirical evidence of school and community violence trends and includes an overview of the need for schools to develop crisis response plans.

How Can We Improve School Safety Research?
Ron Avi Astor, Nancy Guerra, Richard Van Acker  
Educational Researcher, January 2010
The authors of this article consider how educational researchers can improve school violence and safety research in three key ways and describe international empirical approaches that match school safety data with specific evidence-based practices.

How Can We Improve School Discipline?
David Osher, George G. Bear, Jeffrey R. Sprague, Walter Doyle  
Educational Researcher, January 2010
Surveying three approaches to improving school disciple practices and student behavior, this article examines their epistemological and empirical roots and supporting research.

The Achievement Gap and the Discipline Gap: Two Sides of the Same Coin?
Anne Gregory, Russell J. Skiba, Pedro A. Noguera  
Educational Researcher, January 2010
This article synthesizes research on racial and ethnic patterns in school sanctions and examines the evidence for student, school, and community contributors to these patterns, offering promising directions for gap-reducing discipline policies and practices.

School Violence and Theoretically Atypical Schools: The Principal’s Centrality in Orchestrating Safe Schools
Ron Avi Astor, Rami Benbenishty, Jose Nuñez Estrada
American Educational Research Journal, January 2009
Using three years of intense qualitative and quantitative methods employed at schools considered “atypical” because of their low violence despite being in high violence communities, researchers find that the most important variable is leadership of the principal.

These Deadly Times: Reconceptualizing School Violence by Using Critical Race Theory and Disability Studies
Ivan Eugene Watts, Nirmala Erevelles
American Educational Research Journal, June 2004
The authors examine the impact of social, political, economic, and institutional structures on the social construction of the “deviant student,” arguing that school violence is the result of the structural violence that force students to feel vulnerable, angry, and resistant to normative school expectations.

Additional Reading

AERA Outstanding Book Award (2007)
School Violence in Context: Culture, Neighborhood, Family, School, and Gender

Rami Benbenishty, Ron Avi Astor
Oxford University Press

AERA Palmer O. Johnson Award for Outstanding Article (1999)
Unowned Places and Times: Maps and Interviews About Violence in High Schools
Ron Avi Astor, Heather Ann Meyer, William J. Behre
American Educational Research Journal, January 1999