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Abstract

There is widespread concern about the possibility of school violence and rarely a week goes by without media reports about an active shooter at a school, with perpetrators as young as 15 years old. However, schools remain the safest haven in society for children given the scourge of domestic violence which victimizes children when at home. Expectations are very high on school superintendents, teachers and staff to maintain a safe and secure environment for students, teachers, administrators, parents, and visitors. Our longitudinal survey measuring how superintendents in rural public school districts in Georgia go about preventing violence was conducted in 1996, 2006, and 2016. The longitudinal design of this research provides a rare opportunity to compare and contrast superintendent’s school safety strategies, policies, and technologies across three decades. We observe that violent crimes such as shootings, knifings, bombings and arson are indeed rare events. More common are garden variety fistfights and bullying, (physically and in cyberspace), but overall, Georgia’s rural school systems are successful at preventing episodes of violence.

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