Voices from the Field

Voices from the Field is a place for administrators, teachers, school support staff, community, and family members to learn what experts -- researchers, practitioners, family -- from across the country think by reading a short post that includes the latest promising practices on a range of school climate topics, along with references and related resources.

How does your school currently assess bullying, violence, and substance abuse?

Learn What Experts Think

In order to learn, students need to feel safe and supported.  Unfortunately, bullying, violence, and substance abuse are three common issues that can get in the way.

Importance of Assessing Bullying, Violence, and Substance Abuse

“What gets measured gets done” is a popular saying in the research community.  Measuring bullying, violence, and substance abuse allows schools to identify and address their harmful effects.

However, it can be challenging to accurately measure the frequency, prevalence, and context of these behaviors. 

Challenges of Assessing Bullying, Violence, and Substance Abuse and How to Overcome Them

Bullying, violence, and substance abuse are socially undesirable behaviors.  Respondents—whether students, teachers, or family members—may be hesitant to report knowledge of or participation in these behaviors, which may result in underreporting.  Fortunately, researchers have developed techniques to address social desirability bias:

  • Use self-administered instruments.
  • Use computer-assisted or web-based interviews rather than face-to-face in-person interviews.
  • Ensure respondent anonymity or confidentiality.
  • Carefully word questions.
  • Ask whether the respondent has ever participated in the behavior and then about their current participation.
  • Mix items about socially undesirable behaviors in with less threatening questions.
  • Randomize responses if survey is not self-administered.
  • Make questions less threatening.

Learn More!

A live webinar on effective strategies for assessing bullying, violence, and substance abuse was held on Wednesday, June 12 from 4:00-5:30 PM Eastern time and Thursday June 13 from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM Eastern time.  The presenters were Lina Guzman, PhD, of Child Trends, Greg Austin, PhD, of WestEd, and Hilva Chan from the California Department of Education.  Find the archived event here: http://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/events/webinar/effective-strategies-assessing-bullying-violence-and-substance-abuse


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