Investigating the effects of commonly implemented school safety strategies on school social work practitioners in the united states

Matthew J. Cuellar, Matthew T. Theriot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: Use of safety strategies is increasing in United States schools due to increased media attention to school violence and maladaptive student behavior. Yet, relationships between the use of school safety strategies and school social work practice have not been adequately researched. This study examines relationships between school-level characteristics and types of safety strategies in schools where social workers are employed and how these strategies influence school social work practice. Method: We used data from 229 school social workers to explore the extent to which school-level variables predict the implementation of authoritarian and educational/therapeutic school safety strategies and examine how these strategies affect practitioners. Results: School size and education level are positively associated with the use of authoritarian strategies, and urbanicity and percentage of socioeconomically disadvantaged students enrolled are negatively associated with the use of educational/therapeutic strategies. Findings suggest that school social workers are affected in their practice by the types of safety strategies their schools implement. Conclusions: Implications call for social work practitioners to assess their schools’ safety measures and their influence on students and school personnel when developing case conceptualizations. Practitioners should also evaluate the need for educational/therapeutic strategies and implement them accordingly, particularly in rural schools enrolling a greater percentage of socioeconomically disadvantaged students. Additional recommendations for school social work practice, education, and research are noted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-538
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of the Society for Social Work and Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • School safety
  • School social work
  • School violence
  • Structural equation modeling
  • Survey research


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