Assessing disparities in school safety: implications for promoting equality in current efforts to keep kids safe

Matthew J. Cuellar, Samantha Coyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Disproportionality in exposure to school safety strategies in the United States has received increasing attention across the literature. These inequalities are a very important topic for administrators and educators to consider when addressing school safety needs, as they have implications for how student behavior is processed. While research has extensively examined inequalities in exposure to school safety strategies using nationally representative, school-level data, we have extremely limited quantitative evidence regarding the extent to which students of different races/ethnicities experience school security measures differently when they are situated within the same school. Using person-in-environment perspective to guide inquiry into this phenomenon, this paper examines data from students in seven different high schools across one large, urban school district situated within an inner-city setting. Complex modeling was used to model fixed effects with consideration of the clustering of students within schools, thus controlling for shared variability of students within schools. Controlling for gender, socioeconomic status, performance, behavior, and attendance, results identify inequalities in engagement with security measures by race and ethnicity. Findings call for researchers and practitioners to regularly assess the way students interact with the school safety strategies in their school. Moreover, implications for addressing this phenomenon using an implicit bias framework to promote cultural inclusivity are discussed and recommendations for educators and administrators are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)658-684
Number of pages27
JournalSecurity Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Complex survey research
  • Inequality
  • School safety
  • Security measures
  • Urban schools


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