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Article Perceived Injustice and School Violence: An Application of General Strain Theory Katie James 1 , Jackson Bunch 2 , and Jody Clay-Warner 1 Abstract We examine the effect of perceived school fairness on one’s likelihood of participating in school violence and how social support influences this relationship. General strain theory (GST) and procedural justice theory suggest that when students perceive unfairness in school rules or treat- ment from teachers, they will be more likely to participate in violence. GST proposes that the strength of these relationships may be reduced by social support. Data from the 2009 School Crime Supplement of the National Crime Victimization Survey show that students who perceive unfair treatment from teachers are more likely to bring a weapon to school and fight at school than are students who believe that their teachers are fair. Students who perceive that rules are unfair are more likely to bring a weapon to school than are students who believe rules are fair. Perceived support from adults at school reduces the impact of teacher/rule unfairness on school violence. Keywords general strain theory, school violence, perceived injustice, social support Despite declining crime rates, violence at school continues to be viewed as a serious problem (Robers, Zhang, Truman, & Snyder, 2012). During the 2009 school year, almost two thirds of pub- lic schools reported at least one violent incident and 16 % reported one or more incidents of serious violence. The vast majority of this victimization is, of course, at the hands of other students. There are many forms of violence at school. One of the most common is physical fighting. In 2009, almost 6 % of high school students reported having been in a physical fight at school (DeVoe & Bauer, 2011). Another form of school crime, weapon-carrying, is also associated with violent activities. In 2009, 6 % of students reported that they had carried a weapon on school property in the past month (Robers et al., 2012). Weapon-carrying at school is strongly associated with the use of violence, including participation in group fights, threatening someone with a weapon, and 1 Department of Sociology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA 2 Department of Sociology, University of Montana, Missoula, MT, USA Corresponding Author: Katie James, Department of Sociology, University of Georgia, 113 Baldwin Hall, Athens, GA 30602, USA. Email: [email protected] Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 2015, Vol. 13(2) 169-189 ª The Author(s) 2014 Reprints and permission: DOI: 10.1177/1541204014521251 at NOVA SOUTHEASTERN UNIV on June 30, 2016 Downloaded from
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seriously injuring another person (Forrest, Zychowski, Stuhldreher, & Ryan, 2000). Webster, Gai- ner, and Champion (1993) also find that weapon-carrying is associated with aggressive delin- quency, not defensive behaviors.
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