Term of Award

Spring 2003

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Administration

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Michael D. Richardson

Committee Member 1

T. C. Chan

Committee Member 2

Cathy Jording

Committee Member 3

Fred Page


Middle school principals in Georgia have a varying degree in their perception of school violence. For some of the middle school principals, violence happens in a larger school and not in a rural school. Violence is increasing or decreasing according to the Georgia middle school principals. A total of 143 Georgia middle school principals responded to a survey which asked the principals for their personal and professional demographics, their identification of 20 items of discipline issues which could be found in a middle school, the principals' knowledge of federal and Georgia state law, and their personal statements of how each principal viewed violence in schools.

The study employed a descriptive survey approach to address the five research questions. The self-designed survey questionnaire was developed to examine the middle school principals' perceptions of violence, identification of violent acts, and how violence may be found in their individual schools. The survey included both a qualitative and a quantitative focus.

The findings indicated that of the 143 Georgia middle school principals, the majority who responded to the survey were Caucasian, were over the age of 47, had 21-plus years of experience as educators, and had 6 to 15 years experience as an administrator. The responding group of principals worked primarily in a rural school setting in middle schools containing grades 6 through 8.

The Georgia middle school principals reported that they believed that school violence predominately occurred in larger school settings in the larger towns and cities. The principals who were more experienced administrators and educators exhibited a better working knowledge of what constitutes a violent act and of the federal and state laws concerning violence in Georgia's middle schools. Fewer than half of the Georgia middle school principals reported that their school used some type of school violence prevention program; a few principals stated the belief that visibility of the school's administrators helped to reduce the amount of possible violence which could occur in a school setting. The majority of the middle school principals reported to have a zero tolerance policy and the majority of those principals reported that the policy was enforced.

Implications from this study determined that the term act of violence is purely subjective depending on the perception and experience of the middle school principal. If the middle school principal did not experience a severe act of violence, such as a bomb threat, the principal would score that violent act not as severe as a principal who had experienced that type of violent action.


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