Further, safe school perception hasan effect on school attendance motivation, which is the desire to attend theschool, in spite of all the difficulties. Positive school climate is associatedwith significantly lower levels of absenteeism (deJung& Duckworth, 1986;Purkey& Smith, 1983; Reid, 1982; Rumberger, 1987; Sommer, 1985). Students missclasses when their personal safety is threatened or when they feel unsafe goingto or coming back from school (Centre fordisease Control and Prevention, 2008).Such unsafe learning environmentscreate a climate of fear and insecurity which leads to a perception thatteachers do not have control or care about students’ well-being which furtherleads to absenteeism. Absenteeism is one of the outcomes of bullying at school,avoiding school may be a way to prevent or reduce victimization (DeRosier,Kupersmidt, & Patterson, 1994). Plethora of research has suggested adverseeffect of school violence and bullying on school attendance but the relationshipthat exists between student’s perception of safe school and his motivation toattend school has not much been explored as to the best knowledge of thepresent researcher. This study set outs to explore the relationship betweensafe school perception and school attendance motivation.
Students who value self-respect,sense of belonging, and sense of accomplishment exhibit significantly lowerfrequency of delinquent behavior and substance use. (Goff and Goddard, 1999).Strong positive relationship exists between the presence of discipline problemsand the presence of crime (Heaviside et al., 1998).Other research has also haveshown that lower perceptions of school safety are tied to victimization inbullying incidents, resulting in more negative perceptions of students’psychosocial environment (Meyer-Adams and Conner 2008).Students’ perceptions ofschool safety can also be negatively affected by the presence of gangs and drugproblems (Schreck& Miller, 2003).
Previous research has suggested thatmany school attendance problems and truancy problems have their basis instudents’ desire to avoid hostile conflicts at school. Several studiesevaluating violence within schools have found that violence reduces school attendanceand causes an increase in behavioral problems; it also reduces high schoolgraduation percentages (Bowen & Bowen, 1999). One of the consequences ofstudents feeling unsafe at school is to stay at home (Lacoe, 2012).
Attendancein school and students’ grades have also found to be negatively associated withtheir perception of being safe in school (Bowan&Bowan, 1999), as well asdisengagement with daily lessons among high risk middle and high schoolstudents (Bowan, Richman, Drewster, and Bowan, 1998).Students who fear fortheir safety have poor attendance and lower grades, especially in case ofbullying victims (Berkowitz &Benbenishty, 2012; Wegner, Garcia-Santiago,Nishimura, &Hishinuma, 2010). Higher tendencies to engage in riskbehaviours such as smoking and alcohol and drug use have been found among studentswho are frequently absent from school (Halfors et al.
, 2002; Wang, Blomberg,& Li, 2005). Other research has focused on teacher student relationship asa reason for absenteeism. Studentsare less likely to attend school when they feel unsupported or disrespected byteachers and other school staff; feel uncomfortable or bullied by otherstudents (Wagstaff, Combs, & Jarvis, 2000). Researchsuggests that factors relate to the culture and climate of the school influencestudent attendance (Barnham, 2004; Lauchlan, 2003; Schendell, et al.
, 2004;Simons, Hwang, Fitzgerald, Kielb, & Lin, 2010). National EducationalLongitudinal Survey (NELS) data (Stewart, 2008), suggested that studentoutcomes were related to the student’s sense of belongingness or connection tothe community. Similarly, students who perceive their schools to be unsafe hadhigher rates of attribution (Rumberger and Palardy, 2005). In particular, thosestudents who experience bullying and victimization by peers or their teacherstend to miss more school than peers who do not experience these conditions(Glew, Fan, Katon, Rivara, , 2005).Recent research indicates thatbullying is now widely recognized as a significant factor in student attendanceas manifested through school avoidance behaviors (Kearney, 2008; Roberts, Zang,Truman, & Snyder, 2012; Swearer, Espelage, Vaillancourt, & Hymel,2010).Though there are researchon victimization, violence (bullying, delinquency) in school and its impact onattendance but overall perception of the students towards their school in termsof its climate, relationship with others (teachers, staff members, students),sense of personal safety, rules at school, negative behaviours (drug use,alcohol, smoking) at school, how fairly they are treated by their fellowclassmates, teachers, the effect of all theses taken together on students’attendance has not been rigorously explored.
The present study takes a holisticapproach in understanding the student’s perception of safe school and exploringits relationship with their school attendance motivation. A study by Shumow and Lomax (2001) also hadsimilar findings stating that perceptions about school are not significantlyaffected by factors like age or gender. Previous studies have also suggestedthat students are likely to commit violent acts when they lack feelings ofbelongingness and have poor bond to the school and do not trust theadministration (Anderman, 2002; Noguera, 1995). Student’s feeling of connectedness to theschool is also dependent on the relationship between the level of aggressionand victimization in school and school climate (Wilson, 2004).
This finding is in conformity withprevious studies that suggested feelings of alienation and the risk ofabsenteeism or drop-out are often increased because of bullying (Rigby, 2002);an unfriendly school environment (Lewin, 2007) and the fear of physicalviolence in school from teachers (Marin and Brown, 2008). Previous findings hassuggested that violence against students in schools results in higher levels ofabsenteeism (Rigby and Slee, 1993), increases likelihood of drop out (Leach andMitchell, 2006) and greater truancy (Cullingford and Morrison, 1996; Green,2006). A poor school environment can have harmful effects on students’ health(Gadin, 2003), school enrolment, retention, & the qualityof education (Leach & Mitchell, 2006; UNESCO, 2006). Other studies havesuggested that a positive school climate is correlated with decrease in studentabsenteeism in middle and high school (deJung& Duckworth, 1986; Gottfredson,1989; Purkey& Smith, 1983; Reid, 1982; Rumberger, 1987; Sommer, 1985). Positiveschool climate has an important role in forming a warm, secure and positiverelationship between teacher and students which has a positive impact onstudents resulting in reduced drop-out rates (Dika, 2002; Wentzel, 2003)