Absenteeism and students' perceptions of school safety
Students feeling safe while at school is an essential precondition for learning and optimal physical, emotional, and social development. However, less is known about the association between school safety and chronic absenteeism, a pervasive public health problem in the United States public school system correlated with adverse student outcomes later in life. The current study utilized a pre-post design to evaluate whether students with unfavorable school safety perceptions at the beginning of the school year were more likely to be chronically absent at the end of the school year. The study also examined the intersection between gender, race, age, and a dichotomous outcome, indicating whether students were chronically absent. Participants included 135 K-8 students (53.3% female, 85.2% Black) and 33 teachers (75.9% female, 34.5% Black, 51.7% White) from six, predominately Black, open-enrollment urban charter in New Orleans, Louisiana. Students reported on their perceptions of school safety at the beginning of the year, and chronic absenteeism data were collected from student's homeroom teachers at the end of the year. Students who rated school climate worse and who were older were marginally significantly more likely to be chronically absent. Student gender and race were not statistically significantly related to chronic absenteeism. The study implications, limitations, and guidance for future research are discussed.