School Characteristics Related to Student Help Seeking: Supportive Climate and Zero Tolerance Discipline Policies

Eliot, Megan, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Cornell, Dewey, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Gregory, Anne, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Tucker, Pamela, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Fan, Xitao, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

This study investigated the relationship between supportive school climate and student willingness to seek help for bullying and threats of violence, as well as the relationship between both these variables and zero tolerance discipline policies. As part of the Virginia High School Safety Study, a total of 7,431 9 th -grade students, 2,353 9 th - grade teachers, and 289 principals were surveyed across 296 high schools in Virginia. Supportive climate was measured using student reports that their teachers were caring, respectful, and interested in their success. Using hierarchical linear modeling it was found that, as hypothesized, students who perceived their school climates as supportive were more likely to possess positive attitudes towards seeking help for bullying and threats of violence. In order to address the problem of shared method variance biasing these results, the student sample was split in half in each school, with supportive climate measured by one half used to predict help seeking in the other half. Under these conditions there was still a consistent relationship between a supportive school climate and help seeking. Finally, zero tolerance discipline, as measured by principal reports of the number of students recommended for expulsion due to zero tolerance violations, did not directly correlate with help seeking attitudes. However, zero tolerance expulsions were negatively correlated with perceptions of support in schools. Findings suggest that efforts to provide a supportive school climate in schools are a potentially valuable strategy for increasing student willingness to seek help. Curry Programs in Clinical and School Curry School of Education University of Virginia Charlottesville, Virginia APPROVAL OF THE DISSERTATION This dissertation, ("School Characteristics Related to Students Help Seeking: Supportive and Zero Tolerance Discipline has been approved by the Graduate Faculty of the Curry School of Education in pania! fulfillment of the requirements fOf the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Anne Grcgory, Ph.D. 17 Xitao fan, Ph.D. Pamela D. Tucker, Ed.D. DEDICATION This dissertation is dedicated to Ruth Eliot, Janet Williams, and all those who encouraged me along the way.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
bullying, school climate, students
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