Background: Victimization at school has been shown to affect a student’s perceptions of school climate, specifically in regard to how safe they feel at school and how fair they perceive their schools to be. Objective: The current study investigated the potentially protective role of supportive teachers and peers in reducing the negative influence of victimization on student perceptions of safety and equity with a diverse and predominantly low SES sample of 310 ninth-grade students across eight schools in the greater New York City area. Method: Participants completed the Maryland Safe and Supportive Schools (MDS3) Survey to assess social support and perceived safety and equity at school and a measure of victimization adapted from the Survey on School Crime and Safety (SOSCS). Results: Results indicated that social support from teachers and peers was an important protective resource and that when both sources of support were high, youth reported that their schools were safer and more equitable. There was evidence of a buffering effect; when social support from teachers and peers was high, there was no relationship between victimization and perceptions of safety. Teacher support was also protective when social support from peers was low. Conclusions: Results highlight the importance of positive and supportive relationships in promoting perceptions of school climate. Further, results suggest that social support can be especially protective for youth experiencing victimization.
- School climate
- Social support