What School Factors Influence Teachers' Perceptions of Safety

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of the study was to describe factors that make teachers feel safe in their classrooms and school buildings. An in-depth exploration of contributing factors to feelings of safety for teachers will assist the field of education when planning facilities and preparing current and future school administrators in leading schools with a healthy and safe climate for teachers. For this study, the researcher surveyed all teaching personnel in a school division which was a total of 133 full-time, fully licensed teachers employed by a rural school division in Southside Virginia.

A survey instrument with both quantitative and open ended questions was developed to investigate perceptions of safety in participants' responses regarding the physical characteristics of school buildings and classrooms, the influence of colleague relationships, and administrative practices and school division policies that influence teachers' feelings of safety. The quantitative survey questions utilized a Likert-scale format for participants to indicate degrees of agreement with statements with responses that ranged from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The opened ended questions provided for qualitative investigation by allowing participants to provide answers in their own words regarding the four research sub-questions.

Findings from the study indicated that teachers in the study generally felt safe in their schools. Teachers indicated perceiving that the greatest violence risk was posed by outside intruders and concern for safety was not generally caused by student behavior. Teachers' perceptions of safety were influenced by the presence of a resource officer in their school building, locked exterior doors, the use of surveillance cameras, the presence of a supportive and visible school principal, and the support of their teacher colleagues.

school facilities, colleagues, safety policies, administrative practices