Arab and Jewish elementary school students’ perceptions of fear and school violence: Understanding the influence of school context

This inquiry explores variables that predict elementary school students' fear of attending school due to school violence and their overall judgments of school violence as a problem. Using a nationally representative sample (Israel) of 5,472 elementary-school-aged children, this study tested the hypotheses that: (a) young students' personal fear of attending school due to violence, and (b) students' assessment of a school violence problem, are best understood as separate conceptual constructs. Structural equation modelling was used to test the proposed theoretical model for the sample as a whole and separately for across gender and for Arab and Jewish students. Student fear of attending school due to violence was related directly to experiences of personal victimization on school grounds by students and teachers. Children's judgments of their schools' overall violence problem were influenced directly by the school climate, risky peer-group behaviours, and personal victimization. The findings provide evidence that the proposed theoretical model applies across gender groups and for both Arab and Jewish students. Implications for policy, theory, and future research are highlighted. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved) (from the journal abstract)