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Written by: Rachel Johansson, Medical Psychology Center Intern, Curry College
A positive school social climate is most often viewed as a climate where students feel respected, listened to, and valued within the school community. When a positive school social climate is achieved student crime, including violence, can be effectively prevented. In a positive school environment, encouraging learning conditions can be established. The encouraging atmosphere helps promote pro-social bonds, improve levels of self-control, provide students with positive motivation, and support youth social development. Improved school climate increases overall school safety through better communication and cooperation.
A large aspect of improving school climate involves assisting students with mental health support. When a school is able to identify students who are in need of support, provide students with tools for coping with traumatic experiences, and offer students emotional support or guidance improvements in school social climate are made. Increasing the school social climate would provide effective prevention for tragedies in school. Researchers have discovered a large amount of evidence supporting that student misbehavior decreases in positive social climates as well as evidence that shows it would be unlikely that a student would cause a mass act of violence in a school where they feel valued and respected.
Increasing student access to disciplinary and counseling services as well as increasing funding for more full-time school resource officers and mental health agents is a substantially more effective prevention measure than criminal justice-oriented security. More invasive and intense the security is correlated with increased reports of student victimization and fear. The invasive security also impacts school involvement for parents and community members. The cost of increased security could indirectly cause a less secure school environment by taking the needed resources away from educational and behavioral therapy. The most important key to prevention is being able to recognize warnings and cries for help; a positive school social climate supports prevention effectively (Kupchik et al., 2015).
Kupchik, A., Brent, J. J., & Mowen, T. J. (2015). The aftermath of Newtown: More of the
same. British Journal Of Criminology, 55(6), 1115-1130. doi:10.1093/bjc/azv049