Feel Safe Attending School Print or save as PDF

How is it defined?

Safe schools provide fair and supportive conditions that facilitate creativity, cooperation, exploration and allow students to develop to their full potential (Morrison, Furlong, & Morrison, 1994). According to Cornell and Mayer (2010) “academic success for students begins with a trusting and mutually respectful relationship between student and teacher, extends to classroom order, and culminates in a safe and supportive school climate that is profoundly and inextricably linked to learning outcomes” (p. 11).
The Learning Bar’s framework on the drivers of student outcomes includes measures of quality instruction, school context, classroom context and family context. School context includes measures of advocacy at school, bullying and feeling safe while attending school.

Why is it important?

  • Student perceptions of feeling unsafe are predictive of negative student outcomes like attendance and problem behaviour (Bowen & Bowen, 1999).
  • Perceptions of neighborhood safety predict the likelihood of students commuting to school by walking or cycling (Panter, Jones, van Sluijs, & Griffin, 2010).
  • Effective school safety programs involve clear schoolwide guidelines, involvement from students, parents, and teachers, and increased monitoring in non-classroom areas (Astor, Meyer, Benbenishty, Marachi, & Rosemond, 2005).

How do we measure it?

In OurSCHOOL, in both the primary and secondary school surveys, students respond to questions regarding how safe they feel at school, and on the way to and from school. The scores are scaled on a 10-point scale and the results are reported as “the percentage of students who feel safe at school”. They are also asked questions regarding their physical safety at school. Responses to each question are reported in “Further Detail” charts.


Astor, R. A., Meyer, H. A., Benbenishty, R., Marachi, R., & Rosemond, M. (2005). School safety interventions: Best practices and programs. Children & Schools, 27(1), 17-32.

Bowen, N. K., & Bowen, G. L. (1999). Effects of crime and violence in neighbourhoods and schools on the school behavior and performance of adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 14(3), 319-342.
Cornell, D. G., & Mayer, M. J. (2010). Why do school order and safety matter? Educational Researcher, 39(1), 7-15.

Morrison G. M., Furlong M. J., & Morrison R. L. (1994). School violence to school safety: Reframing the issue for school psychologists. School Psychology Review, 23(2), 236-256.

Panter, J. R., Jones, A. P., van Sluijs, E. M., & Griffin, S. J. (2010). Attitudes, social support and environmental perceptions as predictors of active commuting behaviour in school children. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 64(1), 41-48.