School structural characteristics and social capital: The impact of the school environment on criminal and non -criminal incidents in U.S. public schools
This study examines the relationship between school and neighborhood structural characteristics and criminal and non-criminal incidents in U.S. public schools. In particular, it seeks to determine how school size and other exogenous school- and neighborhood-level variables relate to crime and disorder at school. Additional consideration is given to the relationship between these structural characteristics and disciplinary policies that schools adopt in response to delinquent behavior. Also explored is whether the presence of elements of social capital in schools decreases the rate of criminal and non-criminal incidents that occur at school. This theoretical framework is considered in light of exogenous school- and neighborhood-level variables. Complexities in operationalizing social capital are discussed. I use the 2006 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS), a principal-based survey of U.S. public schools, to examine the aforementioned relationships. The use of SSOCS to demonstrate these phenomena contributes to the existing body of literature a unique conceptualization of how school and neighborhood characteristics and social capital can influence school crime and disorder and the use of disciplinary actions by schools. These relationships are observed using linear regression. The results of this analysis indicate that school size is negatively associated with many of the dependent variables, and that other school and neighborhood structural characteristics are significant in several of the models. It also reveals that specific elements of social capital in schools are consistently related to the occurrence of criminal and non-criminal incidents, as well as to disciplinary actions.