Teachers' perceptions of physical aggression among secondary school students: a New Zealand view.
Research in New Zealand on secondary school students' experiences of bullying at school suggests that students and staff have different perceptions about the extent of bullying (Nairn & Smith, 2002). US research has also found differences between students' and parents' perceptions of behaviour, including weapon carrying (Young & Zimmerman, 1998) and substance use (Deffenbaugh, Hutchinson & Blankschen, 1993). In the Christchurch longitudinal study, students' reports of carrying a hidden weapon or using a weapon in a fight were considerably higher than parents' reports of their adolescents' behaviour (Horwood, 2007). These differences in perception of the extent of adolescent problem behaviour are not solely between adults and adolescents. A recent national study of principals' and counsellors' perceptions of physical aggression in New Zealand secondary schools found a lack of agreement in most areas related to aggression (Marsh et al., 2008a). These differences may explain why it is sometimes difficult for schools and parents to believe the results of self-report data on health-compromising behaviour, as was emphasised by the New Zealand media after the publication of findings relating to weapon carrying by high school students (McGee et al., 2005; Woodham, 2005).
Teachers have a critical role in efforts to reduce these types of risk behaviour; prevention strategies require the support of a number of key people, including teachers, if they are to be successful. If teachers are unaware of the kind and frequency of risk behaviour that adolescents are involved in, they may well be uninterested in efforts to reduce its prevalence. Consequently, it is important to know if teachers accurately perceive the extent of behavioural problems among students at their schools (Laufer & Harel, 2003; Orpinas, Murray & Kelder, 1999) but few studies have measured teachers' perceptions of adolescent risk behaviours (Price & Everett, 1997a).
Students are not the only victims of aggressive behaviour at school; aggression by students towards teaching staff also exists. In England in 2006/07, 1460 students were permanently excluded from state funded secondary schools for physical assaults or verbal abuse/threatening behaviour against an adult, while a further 90 330 students were excluded for a fixed time for these same reasons (Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2008). A US survey of schools and staffing found 7 per cent of participants had been threatened with injury, and 4 per cent had been physically attacked by a student at their school in the past 12 months (Dinkes et al., 2006). Australia reported between 55 and 450 incidents of violence, or assaults on school staff, in five of its states in 2000 (Colman, 2002). In New Zealand, teachers increasingly face physically aggressive behaviour in their workplace (Benefield, 2004). Nearly a third of all teachers experience minor forms of bullying on a daily or weekly basis, mostly from students. Eighty-five per cent reported less frequent but more significant bullying incidents within a school year. In 2004, 435 students were stood down and 155 were suspended for physical assaults on staff (Ministry of Education, 2005). This tense situation in schools may compromise the learning environment and contribute to severe psychological distress among teachers (Finlay-Jones, 1986).
The main aim of this study was to examine teachers' perceptions of physical aggression among New Zealand secondary school students. A second aim was to explore the influence of students' perceptions and behaviour on teachers' perceptions of physical aggression at their school. The term 'physical aggression' in our research reflects a variety of behaviour and was defined as 'deliberately harming another person, this could include: pushing; biting; fighting; shoving; kicking; hitting; burning; or threatening with or using a weapon', as used in the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (Martin et al., 1998).
Twenty of the 27 secondary schools (74 per cent) in the Otago region agreed to take part in the study; these included 10 of the 12 rural schools and 10 of the 15 urban schools. All teachers at these schools were invited to complete a survey. The 20 schools involved in this study employed 71 per cent of these teachers in the region (Ministry of Education, 2003). The second aim of this study involved an online survey carried out among 1169 Year 11 students (mainly aged 15-16 years) at the same Otago schools as the teacher survey; this represented 85 per cent of the 1370 in the sampling frame. All Year 11 students at rural schools, and 65 per cent of Year 11 students in urban areas were sampled. A cluster sample design of classes within schools was used to recruit individual students; classes within schools were randomly selected and all students within the selected classes were then invited to take part.
The research involved a paper-based survey of teachers. Different methods were employed to collect data at the schools, reflecting the difficulty in working with schools in such a study. At seven of the 20 schools, the data were collected during staff meetings. This was the preferred method to increase the response rate and to minimise the impact on the schools' time and resources. At other schools, either the researcher explained the study in a morning meeting and handed the surveys out or the surveys were left in the teacher's mailbox, and the school principal explained the study to the teachers. Teachers were provided with envelopes to return the surveys. Ethical approval for the teacher study was granted by the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago.
The second part of the research involved a cross-sectional, anonymous survey administered using a computer-aided interviewing system for administering online surveys, ABBEY (LINZ Applied Research Unit, 2005). The surveys were administered online during class time over the last three terms of the academic year in 2005. The web-based version of the survey was used wherever possible but, in instances of computer malfunction, a paper-based version was available. The survey was administered by the first author, and a senior staff member or school counsellor was also present. Written informed consent from each student was required for participation. Ethical approval for this part of the study was received from the Otago University Human Ethics Committee.
Measures: Teacher survey
The teacher survey was based on previous studies carried out in the USA with principals (Price & Everett, 1997a), teachers (Price & Everett, 1997b) and mothers of pupils (Kandakai et al., 1999). We also developed a small number of questions where appropriate items were not located in the literature. School data provided by the Ministry of Education (2004) were obtained and linked to each teacher's survey, including school type, size, area and decile (socio-economic level) of school. School decile is a summary index based on Census and school data, including household income, parental qualifications, and the proportion of students who identify as Maori or Pacific Island people. Participants were asked questions about their age, gender and ethnicity, and their perception of the level of physical aggression in the neighbourhood surrounding their school. The definition of physical aggression, as described in the Introduction, was provided on the front cover of the survey.
The first area of interest was the participants' perceptions of physically aggressive student behaviour. Participants were asked about their perceptions of the intensity of the problem of physical fighting at their school and whether any students had been found carrying weapons. Information was also obtained about their perceptions of 15 types of problem behaviour in their school in the past year (these are listed in Table 2). Respondents were asked to rate them as 'not a problem', a 'moderate problem' or a 'major problem'. Perceptions of background risk factors and factors that may provoke individual acts of physical aggression were assessed. Assessments were made about the prevalence of student aggression towards teachers, based on the New Zealand Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) survey (Benefield, 2004).
Measures: Student survey
Questions used in the student survey were based on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), a reliable US instrument frequently used to assess health-compromising and health-promoting behaviour among adolescents (Kolbe, Kann & Collins, 1993), and the Health Behaviour in School Aged Children Study (Research Unit in Health and Behavioural Change, 1998). Three areas of interest were examined for this study: physical fighting, general perception of school and feeling safe at school.
The extent of reported physical fighting for each school was identified from the YRBS questions on physical fighting: 'In the past 12 months, how many times were you in a physical fight?' (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2003). A measure of students' general perception of school was used and consisted of four questions: 'How do you feel about school at present?'; 'Our school is a nice place to be'; 'I feel I belong at this school'; and 'This school is clean' (Laufer & Harel, 2003). Feeling safe at school was measured by a single question: 'How often do you feel safe at school?' (Research Unit in Health and Behavioural Change, 1998).
Descriptive statistics including appropriate frequencies, means and standard deviations were calculated for the various measures. SPSS was used to conduct univariate logistic regression to test for associations between variables, using a significance level of p < 0. 05 (SPSS Inc., 2005). Generalised estimating equations were used to model the relationship between teachers' and students' perceptions of the frequency of fighting and aggressive problems in the school. This analysis was conducted using Stata (Stata Corporation, 2003) and adjusted for the possibility of clustering within schools. In modelling this relationship, we assumed that teachers' perceptions would reflect student behaviour and would be an outcome of that behaviour. This being so, the teachers' perceptions are treated as outcome variables.
The first of these outcome variables was the teachers' individual perceptions of the frequency of fighting. This was dichotomised as frequent fighting (at least once a week), and infrequent fighting (less than once a week). The second outcome variable was a score of the teachers' individual perception of aggressive problems at school. This was calculated by adding the individual scores for each of eight aggressive items in the 'problems at school list' (see Table 2). The score had moderate internal reliability, with Cronbach's alpha of 0.74. Cronbach alpha is a measure of the internal consistency of a set of questions on a scale and can vary from 0 (no consistency) to 1.0 (perfect consistency, where all items are measuring the exact same construct) (Cronbach, 1951).
Three explanatory variables were used, including perceptions of students at each school, and school and teacher characteristics. The extent of reported physical fighting for each school was identified by the proportion of students who reported they had been in a physical fight at school in the past year. The four questions on students' general perception of school were added together to get an overall score for the general perception of school for each student. The Cronbach alpha for this scale was 0. 75 and represents moderately high internal reliability (Cronbach, 1951). The individual scores from students were then averaged to provide an aggregate score for each school. The individual results from how safe students feel at each school were again averaged to give an aggregate score. School decile and school type were selected to examine the influence of school characteristics on teachers' perception of physical fighting and aggression problems. The age and gender of the teacher were also included in the model. Both odds ratios (OR) and adjusted odds ratios (AOR) are used to show the relationship between variables in this study. An odds ratio describes the strength of association between two variables. An odds ratio of 1 implies that the odds of the event are equally likely in both groups; a ratio of greater than 1 implies that the event is more likely in the first group; and an odds ratio of less than 1 implies that the event is less likely in the first group. The adjusted odds ratio is also used and presents the odds ratio after adjusting for other variables in the model, such as demographic or school variables.
The characteristics of the participating schools, teachers and students are shown in Table 1. There was a mixture of coeducational and single-sex girls' and boys' schools, with most pupils attending coed schools. The New Zealand Ministry of Education provides each school in New Zealand with a decile rating based on census indicators of disadvantage, with 1 being schools with high disadvantage and 10 being low-disadvantage schools. Two-thirds of the schools were from high decile (8-10) areas, and the remainder medium decile (4-7) areas, with both urban and rural areas represented.
A total of 463 teachers participated in this study, an overall response rate of 57 per cent. Teachers were represented from all 20 schools, with an average of 23 respondents per school, and a range of 3-54. The method of data collection eliciting the highest response rate was completion during staff meetings, with 66 per cent response rate; non-responders were teachers not present on the day of the meeting. The majority of the teachers who participated in the survey were female (67 per cent), between the ages of 40 and 49, and of New Zealand European ethnicity.
The sample of students included 1169 Year 11 students. The majority of students completed the survey online, with approximately a third doing a paper version, mainly due to school choice. The sample consisted of 378 rural and 791 urban students. Fifty-five per cent of the participants were female, and the average age was 15 years and 8 months. The majority (87 per cent) identified as being New Zealand European and 10 per cent identified as Maori (Tangata Whenua, the indigenous people of New Zealand).
Perceived problems in schools
Table 2 shows teachers' perceptions of problems in their school in the previous 12 months, ranked by the number of major problems reported. Teachers perceived harsh language, bullying students and absenteeism due to truancy as the main problems at their school. Those items that were considered as being the least problematic at their school were drug use, gang activity and student weapon carrying. In response to the question assessing their perception of the level of physical aggression in the community surrounding their school, the majority (57 per cent) of teachers perceived the level as medium; only 2 per cent believed it to be high.
Physically aggressive behaviour
The majority (68 per cent) of teachers felt that physical fights occurred at their school once a month or less, with 16 per cent identifying fights occurring two or three times a month, and 16 per cent reporting fights at least weekly. While teachers rated weapon carrying as the least common problem at their school, 8 per cent of teachers reported that students at their school had been caught carrying weapons, a rate of weapon carrying of 3 per 1000 students (95 per cent confidence interval: 2.4 to 4.1). Teachers at schools with a large school roll were significantly more likely to report both fights on a weekly basis (Odds Ratio (OR) = 2.5, confidence interval: 1.5 to 4.3) and weapon carrying (OR = 3.0, confidence interval: 1.4 to 6. 6) than schools with a small school roll. Similarly, teachers from coeducational schools were also more likely to report fights on a weekly basis (OR = 4. 1, confidence interval: 1.9 to 8.9) and weapon carrying (OR = 2. 8, confidence interval: 1.0 to 7.4) than teachers from single-sex girls' schools. No significant associations were found between either teachers' perceptions of physical fighting or weapon carrying, and their perception of physical aggression in the area surrounding the school, school location in an urban or rural setting, school decile and single-sex boys' schools. The main weapons students were reported to have been carrying were a knife (51 per cent), cap gun or BB gun (43 per cent), and a pocket knife (37 per cent). The main reason teachers thought that students carried weapons were to impress friends and be accepted. Protection going to and from school and while at school were also considered to be reasons for students carrying weapons.
Physically aggressive behaviour towards teachers
Table 3 shows teachers' perceptions of aggressive behaviour towards them reported in the survey. A small number of teachers reported experiencing some of this behaviour 'often or constantly', and a significant number experienced aggressive behaviour towards themselves or other staff at least once or twice a term. The main types of behaviour that were identified were verbal abuse, significant public challenges and acts of vandalism.
Student behaviours and teachers' perceptions
Descriptive results show a wide variation between schools on aggregated mean fighting with the mean for schools ranging from 0.03 to 0.63 (Figure 1). The aggregated means for the students' general perception of school did not vary as much, with the means for schools ranging from 2.18 to 2.91 (Figure 2). There was more variation on the aggregated means for schools on how safe students feel at school, ranging from 1.42 to 2.19 (Figure 3).
The results of the models show that students' reports of fighting, and general perceptions of school and safety at school were not statistically significantly related to teachers' individual perception of fighting and aggressive problems in the school (Table 4, Table 5, and Table 6 respectively). But as the p-value for students' reports of fighting approach statistical significance, the OR for a 20 per cent increase in the prevalence of fighting in schools was 1.2 (95 per cent confidence interval: 1.0 to 1.6). When school type and decile were included in the model the OR was reduced to 1.1 (95 per cent confidence interval: 0.9 to 1.2), indicating that type of school is important in this association between student and teacher perceptions. The association between the students' report of fighting and teachers' perception of fighting was not significant when the teachers' age and sex were included in the model.
Neither the students' general perception of the school, nor feelings of safety, when aggregated across schools, were associated with the teachers' perceptions of fighting and aggressive behaviour. But the relationship between student fighting and the teacher perceptions is confounded by the type of school. For fighting, being in a boys' school was a significant confounder and, for aggressive problems, being in boys' and coeducational schools were confounders. The teacher variables were not significant in the models and had no impact on the relationship between pupils' and teachers' perception of fighting and aggressive problems in the school.
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The principal findings from this study showed that, perhaps surprisingly, physical aggression was not ranked as a major problem by teachers, and fighting and weapon carrying were not reported to occur frequently in schools. Behaviour, such as harsh language and bullying, that may be considered a precursor to this aggressive behaviour was ranked as more serious. A small number of teachers reported experiencing aggressive behaviour towards them from students. Nevertheless, no significant relationships were found between students' reports of their physically aggressive behaviour and perception of school, and teachers' perceptions of physically aggressive behaviour at their school.
Strengths and weaknesses of the study
This study probably represents the most comprehensive piece of research on New Zealand teachers' perceptions of physical aggression at their schools. A relatively good response rate from schools and individual participants was achieved but the responses were self-reported and potentially subject to social desirability effects. The information collected was retrospective and primarily used closed-response formats. Our study provides a snapshot of respondents' perceptions from a crosssection of typical New Zealand high schools but neither directionality nor causality should be inferred (Vaughan et al., 1996).
The data were obtained from secondary teachers in the Otago region and may not be able to be generalised to teachers in other populations, or to primary and intermediate teachers. A further limitation of this study was the absence of low-decile schools in the Otago region. School decile was not found to be a significant confounder in this study but it is possible that higher perceptions of problems with physical aggression may be found in more disadvantaged schools in other parts of the country.
Physical aggression Out of the 15 problems at schools that were assessed by teachers in this study, fighting was not ranked highly; in fact, it was ranked 11th out of 15 in terms of being a major problem. Weapon carrying was ranked as the least serious problem. Teachers perceive physical aggression to be a moderate problem in schools but clearly not a major one. Harsh language and bullying--types of behaviour that may be seen as precursors to physical aggression--were ranked the highest. Consistent with these findings, verbal insults were also seen as the largest problem by secondary school teachers in the USA (Price & Everett, 1997b). Similar research with principals also found that student weapon carrying was the least problematic (Price & Everett, 1997a) but both these US studies did rate physical aggression as more of a problem than our study found. It was hypothesised, given previous findings of students' self-reported physical fighting in Dunedin (Carter et al., 2007), that physical fighting at school would be reported to occur frequently (at least once a week) by most teachers. Sixteen per cent of teachers reported that fights occurred at their school on a weekly basis, less than had been hypothesised.
Physical aggression and bullying may affect the learning environment in schools: research in the USA has found that teachers believe the threat of violence has a direct impact on the quality of education offered to children (Fisher & Kettl, 2003). Although students reported a high percentage of weapon carrying (Marsh, McGee & Williams, 2008), only 8 per cent of teachers reported that students at their school had been caught carrying weapons, a figure consistent with teachers' reports in the USA (Binns & Markow, 1999). In our study, teachers reported that students most often carried a knife, cap gun or BB gun, and a pocket knife. Research from the USA also shows that knives are perceived to be the weapon of choice but handguns were rated second, indicating the difference between New Zealand students and their US counterparts. The main reasons teachers in New Zealand thought students carried weapons were to impress friends and be accepted, and for protection going to and from school and while at school. These were exactly the same reasons that US teachers reported students carried weapons (Binns & Markow, 1999).
Physical aggression towards teachers Our study did find a small number of teachers experienced aggressive behaviour 'often or constantly'. These results support those of Benefield (2004) and more recent New Zealand research conducted by the New Zealand Education Institute into physical and verbal aggression towards primary and intermediate staff. The latter study found that one in seven teachers or support staff reported one or more physical assaults against them by students in 2006, which equated to three to four assaults per school. Half of the teachers also reported aggressive verbal confrontations (New Zealand Education Institute, 2007).
US research has also identified physical aggression against teachers as a problem, with similar rates of threats of injury and being physically attacked by a student at school (Dinkes et al., 2006). In addition, research on the reasons teachers had left urban high schools found many of the participants indicated that the level of violence in these schools was the key reason for their decision to leave; in many cases this was not necessarily due to violence towards themselves (Smith & Smith, 2006). Such attrition of teaching staff further disadvantages the education that students receive, particularly in public schools and urban locations, and increases the burden on those teachers who remain in schools.
Given the rates at which teachers report the frequency of physical fighting occurring in this current research, the rate of weapon carrying, and the reported physical aggression against teachers, it is surprising that participants ranked these aspects as a low problem in their schools. Research in the USA found a similar phenomenon among school social workers. The results suggested that school social workers did not perceive violence as a serious problem on the basis of a single event, even if the event was life threatening. Their perception of what constituted a serious problem was dependent on the presence of multiple types of violence (Astor et al., 1997). New Zealand school counsellors typically viewed either more, or more severe, physical aggression problems at their school than principals at the same school (Marsh et al., 2008a).
Students' influences on teachers' perceptions The results of the models show that there were no strong significant relationships between students' reports of fighting, their general perceptions of school and safety at school, and teachers' individual perceptions of fighting and aggressive problems in the school. It may be that a sample of 20 schools does not provide sufficient power to establish a significant relationship. A larger sample of schools may establish a relationship between students' reports of fighting and teachers' perceptions of fighting and aggressive problems.
One interesting implication of these findings is uncertainty about who should be believed when it comes to reports of aggressive behaviour in secondary schools. Our previous research suggested significant disagreements between principals' and counsellors' perceptions of violence in schools (Marsh et al., 2008a). The study reported here suggests similar disagreement between teacher and student perceptions. This is part of a wider literature on child and adult reports of behaviour. For example, parents and teachers do not show especially good agreement with adolescent reports of anti-social behaviour, as students may conceal much behaviour from adults. In the context of the present study, most fighting among students may simply occur in contexts where school staff are not present (Deffenbaugh, Hutchinson & Blankschen, 1993; Fisher et al., 2006; Nairn & Smith, 2002; Young & Zimmerman, 1998).
Not only is it important to know who is the most accurate and reliable reporter of aggressive behaviour but also we need to identify what factors affect parental and teacher awareness of these health-compromising types of behaviour among adolescents. At what point might schools decide that they have a serious problem with physical aggression? Collectively, this is a decision to be made by principals, teachers, school counsellors and students themselves. Our research indicates that there is not necessarily high agreement among these different groups, so consensus might be difficult to achieve. Aggression in schools is not just a problem for New Zealand; more research from Australia (which might most closely parallel the New Zealand experience) and elsewhere would help identify those factors that might help schools achieve consensus. The implications of a lack of agreement is that problems might not be identified, and funding, resources and support may not be given to tackle the issue of violence in schools.
We wish to thank the teachers and students from the Otago schools who took part in this study. We wish also to extend our thanks to the many school staff that assisted in organising the data collection at each school. Thanks are also due to the Otago University staff who assisted in the data collection, data entry and online administration.
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Louise Marsh is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob McGee is Associate Professor in Health Promotion in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago.
Sheila Williams is a Consultant Biostatistician in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago.
Table 1 School characteristics Schools Teachers Students N = 20 N = 463 N = 1169 Characteristic n % n % n % Type of school Coeducational 13 65 280 60 718 61 Girls 5 25 133 29 279 24 Boys 2 10 50 11 172 15 School composition Year 7-15 9 45 262 57 529 45 Year 9-15 7 35 170 37 562 48 Composite 4 20 31 7 78 7 Institution Authority State 15 75 349 75 871 75 State integrated 5 25 114 25 298 26 Decile Low (1-3) 0 0 0 Medium (4-7) 11 55 150 32 394 34 High (8-10) 9 45 313 68 775 66 Area Urban 11 55 302 65 791 68 Rural 9 45 161 35 378 32 Table 2 Teachers' perceptions of problems in schools Number answering Major question problem N n % Harsh language by students (a) 452 68 15.0 Bullying students (a) 453 38 8.4 Absenteeism due to truancy 450 21 4.7 Vandalism (a) 455 14 3.1 Absenteeism due to other reasons 439 10 2.3 Threats to students (a) 441 8 1.8 Stealing 450 6 1.3 Students leaving without 435 6 1.3 qualifications Alcohol use 451 5 1.1 Stand down/suspension rate 440 4 0.9 Fighting (a) 451 3 0.7 Threats to teachers (a) 454 3 0.7 Drug use 449 3 0.7 Gang activity (a) 456 0 0.0 Student weapon carrying (a) 454 0 0.0 Moderate Not a problem problem n % n % Harsh language by students (a) 286 63.3 98 21.7 Bullying students (a) 316 69.8 99 21.9 Absenteeism due to truancy 275 61.1 154 34.2 Vandalism (a) 184 40.4 257 56.5 Absenteeism due to other reasons 156 35.5 273 62.2 Threats to students (a) 227 51.5 206 46.7 Stealing 191 42.4 253 56.2 Students leaving without 162 37.2 267 61.4 qualifications Alcohol use 39 8.6 407 90.2 Stand down/suspension rate 153 34.8 283 64.3 Fighting (a) 147 32.6 301 66.7 Threats to teachers (a) 69 15.2 382 84.1 Drug use 65 14.5 381 84.9 Gang activity (a) 36 7.9 420 92.1 Student weapon carrying (a) 7 1.5 447 98.5 (a) Indicates items composing 'aggressive problems in school' Table 3 Teachers' perceptions of abusive, bullying or threatening student behaviour towards staff (%) N Never Rarely Verbal abuse 454 18.5 37.4 Significant public challenges 450 36.2 37.3 Acts of vandalism 452 52.0 29.6 Verbal intimidation 450 58.4 29.3 Physical intimidation 451 63.6 27.1 Written or electronic bullying 449 73.9 15.6 or harassment Verbal sexual harassment 450 74.2 17.8 Verbal racial harassment 448 78.6 14.3 Physical assault 450 90.9 6.4 Physical racial harassment 449 94.0 4.7 Physical sexual harassment 450 95.8 3.3 Sometimes Frequently Verbal abuse 22.0 12.8 Significant public challenges 15.6 5.8 Acts of vandalism 12.8 3.3 Verbal intimidation 7.3 3.3 Physical intimidation 6.9 2.2 Written or electronic bullying 6.0 3.1 or harassment Verbal sexual harassment 6.0 1.6 Verbal racial harassment 5.1 1.1 Physical assault 2.2 0.4 Physical racial harassment 0.9 0.2 Physical sexual harassment 0.9 0.0 Often Constantly Verbal abuse 7.0 2.2 Significant public challenges 3.1 2.0 Acts of vandalism 1.8 0.4 Verbal intimidation 1.1 0.4 Physical intimidation 0.2 0.0 Written or electronic bullying 1.1 0.2 or harassment Verbal sexual harassment 0.4 0.0 Verbal racial harassment 0.9 0.0 Physical assault 0.0 0.0 Physical racial harassment 0.2 0.0 Physical sexual harassment 0.0 0.0 Table 4 Influence of student fighting on teachers' perception of fighting at school Physical fighting Student fighting AOR (95% CI) P-value Student fighting Student fighting 1.2 (1.0 to 1.6) 0.092 (10%) (a) (prop) (unadjusted) School Student fighting 1.1 (0.8 to 1.6) 0.468 characteristics School type Girls 1.0 Boys 3.5 (1.4 to 8.8) 0.008 (b) Coeducational 1.7 (0.5 to 6.7) 0.414 School decile High decile 1.0 Medium decile 1.4 (1.1 to 3.2) 0.366 Teacher Student fighting 1.2 (1.0 to 1.6) 0.099 characteristics Gender of teacher Male 1.0 Female 1.3 (0.7 to 2.4) 0.359 Age of teacher Age (20-39) 1.0 Age (40-50) 1.0 (0.4 to 2.6) 0.996 Age (60+) 0.9 (0.2 to 3.9) 0.865 Aggression problem score Student fighting AOR (95% CI) P-value Student fighting Student fighting 1.1 (0.9 to 1.2) 0.338 (10%) (a) (prop) (unadjusted) School Student fighting 1.0 (0.9 to 1.1) 0.679 characteristics School type Girls 1.0 Boys 1.4 (1.0 to 2.1) 0.044 (b) Coeducational 1.6 (1.0 to 2.4) 0.021 (b) School decile High decile 1.0 Medium decile 1.2 (0.9 to 1.5) 0.150 Teacher Student fighting 1.0 (0.9 to 1.1) 0.457 characteristics Gender of teacher Male 1.0 Female 1.1 (0.9 to 1.3) 0.298 Age of teacher Age (20-39) 1.0 Age (40-50) 0.9 (0.8 to 1.0) 0.095 Age (60+) 0.9 (0.6 to 1.4) 0.763 (a) Increase of one unit changes the odds by the estimate shown. (b) Significant at p < 0.05 Table 5 Influence of students' general perception of school on teachers' perception of fighting at school Physical fighting AOR (95% CI) P-value General Student general 1.3 (0.9 to 1.8) 0.213 perception perception (20%) (a) (mean)(unadjusted) School Student fighting 1.1 (0.8 to 1.5) 0.492 characteristics School type Girls 1.0 <0.001 (b) Boys 4.0 (2.0 to 8.3) Coeducational 2.8 (0.7 to 10.3) 0.127 School decile High decile 1.0 Medium decile 1.3 (0.6 to 3.1) 0.505 Teacher Student fighting 1.3 (0.9 to 1.9) 0.159 characteristics Gender of teacher Male 1.0 Female 1.3 (0.7 to 2.4) 0.410 Age of teacher Age (20-39) 1.0 Age (40-50) 1.0 (0.4 to 2.2) 0.968 Age (60+) 0.8 (0.2 to 3.3) 0.796 Aggression problem score AOR (95% CI) P-value General Student general 1.1 (0.9 to 1.3) 0.309 perception perception (20%) (a) (mean)(unadjusted) School Student fighting 1.1 (1.0 to 1.3) 0.184 characteristics School type Girls 1.0 Boys 1.3 (1.0 to 1.7) 0.046 (b) Coeducational 1.7 (1.2 to 2.6) 0.005 (b) School decile High decile 1.0 Medium decile 1.2 (1.0 to 1.4) 0.073 Teacher Student fighting 1.1 (0.9 to 1.2) 0.349 characteristics Gender of teacher Male 1.0 Female 1.1 (0.9 to 1.3) 0.3l8 Age of teacher Age (20-39) 1.0 Age (40-50) 0.9 (0.8 to 1.0) 0.087 Age (60+) 0.9 (0.6 to 1.4) 0.750 (a) Increase of one unit changes the odds by the estimate shown. (b) Significant at p < 0.05 Table 6 Influence of students' feelings of safety at school on teachers' perception of fighting at school Physical fighting AOR (95% CI) P-value Safe at school Student safety 1.3 (0.9 to 2.0) 0.174 (20%) (a) (mean) (unadjusted) School Student fighting 1.2 (0.9 to 1.7) 0.149 characteristics School type Girls 1.0 Boys 4.3 (2.1 to 8.9) <0.001 (b) Coeducational 3.0 (0.9 to 10.2) 0.077 School decile High decile 1.0 Medium decile 1.4 (0.6 to 3.3) 0.403 Teacher Student fighting 1.4 (0.9 to 2.1) 0.141 characteristics Gender of teacher Male 1.0 Female 1.3 (0.7 to 2.4) 0.394 Age of teacher Age (20-39) 1.0 Age (40-50) 1.0 (0.5 to 2.2) 0.994 Age (60+) 0.9 (0.2 to 3.4) 0.827 Aggression problem score AOR (95% CI) P-value Safe at school Student safety 1.1 (1.0 to 1.3) 0.129 (20%) (a) (mean) (unadjusted) School Student fighting 1.1 (1.0 to 1.3) 0.146 characteristics School type Girls 1.0 Boys 1.3 (1.1 to 1.7) 0.017 (b) Coeducational 1.6 (1.2 to 2.2) 0.002 (b) School decile High decile 1.0 Medium decile 1.2 (1.0 to 1.4) 0.054 Teacher Student fighting 1.1 (0.9 to 1.3) 0.192 characteristics Gender of teacher Male 1.0 Female 1.1 (0.9 to 1.3) 0.288 Age of teacher Age (20-39) 1.0 Age (40-50) 0.9 (0.8 to 1.0) 0.097 Age (60+) 0.9 (0.7 to 1.4) 0.781