Understanding School Safety and the Use of School Resource Officers in Understudied Settings: Survey Data, Southern United States, 2017 (ICPSR 37384)

Version Date: Apr 29, 2020 View help for published

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F. Chris Curran, University of Florida; Benjamin W. Fisher, University of Louisville


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The Understanding School Safety and the Use of School Resource Officers in Understudied Settings project investigated school resource officers (SROs) within settings that have received almost no attention in the empirical literature: elementary schools and affluent, high performing school districts. This project was guided by four research questions: 1) Why and through what process were SROs implemented? 2) What roles and activities do SROs engage in within schools? 3) What impacts do SROs have on schools and students? 4) How do the roles and impacts of SROs differ across school contexts? Survey data come from the districts' SROs, and a sample of teachers, school leaders, students, and parents. Survey data was collected between spring of 2017 and fall of 2017.

Curran, F. Chris, and Fisher, Benjamin W. Understanding School Safety and the Use of School Resource Officers in Understudied Settings: Survey Data, Southern United States, 2017. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2020-04-29. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR37384.v1

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2016-CK-BX-0020)


Access to these data is restricted. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement, specify the reason for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

2017-03-01 -- 2017-12-31

The purpose of the study is to understand why school resource officers (SROs) have been implemented, what they do, and how they impact the school environment, particularly within non-urban, affluent school districts and in elementary schools.

The quantitative component of this study consists of a cross-sectional survey distributed to administrators, SROs, students, parents, and teachers within the selected schools. Students selected to be in the study based on their classroom assignment were sent home paper consent forms or their parents were sent links via email to an online consent form. The research team then distributed paper surveys to all students who had received parental consent (the students were asked for their assent/consent at the beginning of the survey), and students completed the paper surveys during class time. 938 students completed the survey. Parents completed the survey digitally. The surveys were intended to be short (around ten minutes total for students and no more than 20-30 minutes for other stakeholders) and focused on school resource officers, school safety, and school discipline.

The survey design included components of purposeful sampling (of schools), a census of some subgroups (SROs, administrators, and teachers), random sampling of some students (where administrators agreed to randomly sample classrooms for participation), and convenience sampling (where administrators chose classrooms for student participants in a non-random way).

The sample for this study included students in grades 4-12 (younger students were excluded because of concerns with survey comprehension) as well as school resource officers, administrators (principals and vice principals), teachers, and parents. All SROs in both school districts were invited to participate in the survey. For other stakeholders, all schools in the city school district participated in the survey. Schools were selected in the county school district based on a sampling design meant to be representative of the range of different school settings in the district without having to include all schools in the sample. The sampling was based on four high schools each within a different urbanicity type (one rural, one town, one suburban, and one city) and included the feeder elementary and middle schools for these high schools. Overall, stakeholders in 25 schools were included in the study.

Administrators, teachers, parents, and students within these selected schools were invited to participate. All principals and at least one vice principal per school were sampled. All teachers were also sampled. SROs, administrators, and teachers all completed the survey digitally. Sampling of students and parents within schools varied depending on the school. Many schools, especially in the lower grades, gave the survey to all students in the grade while the high schools and most middle schools tended to survey only about three classrooms per grade. The research team requested a minimum of three classrooms per grade be selected, and principals were encouraged to randomly select classrooms by sorting teachers names alphabetically and selecting the teachers whose names appeared first. In many schools, all parents with active email addresses on file for the school were invited, while in others, the school administration invited only parents of students in sampled classrooms.


School resource officers, school administrators, teachers, students, and parents in two suburban school districts in the southern United States.


Scales on feelings of safety, school climate, and the school disciplinary system were on the survey for all participants, though wording differed slightly based on the respondent group. Demographic variables are limited to gender and race.

Items related to SROs ask about tasks and activities that the SRO currently does and ought to do, such as carry a sidearm, make students feel safe, treat students equally, dispel misunderstandings about the criminal justice system, meet with students, teach about law-related topics, and have an open-door policy.

Items on school discipline ask if types of punitive measures were allowed and/or used within the past year (e.g. suspension, detention, loss of privileges, assigned to a program to reduce disciplinary problems), and frequency of problems (e.g. theft, vandalism, bullying, abuse, classroom disorder). Items on school climate ask about fairness and enforcement of rules, respect, and caring from teachers/staff.

Not available.

Many of these scales were adapted from prior surveys administered as part of the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey and from a prior study on SRO-student relationships (Rippetoe, 2010).



2020-04-29 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions. Restricted data files are not available for direct download from the website; click on the Restricted Data button to learn more.