An application of "Broken-windows" and related theories to the study of disorder, fear, and collective efficacy in schools

Stephen B. Plank, Catherine P. Bradshaw, Hollie Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article considers school climate and perceptions of social disorder. When a school is characterized by disorder or physical risk, basic educational goals and processes are jeopardized. We use survey data from 33 public schools serving grades 6-8 in a large mid-Atlantic city to examine relationships among physical disorder (e.g., broken windows and poor building conditions), fear, collective efficacy, and social disorder. Path analyses reveal a direct association between physical disorder and social disorder even when prior levels of collective efficacy are controlled-a finding consistent with traditional broken-windows theories. Further, there is evidence that the effects of physical disorder may be operating through increased fear and decreased collective efficacy to affect perceptions of threatening or violent interactions among people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-247
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Journal of Education
Volume115
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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