Parents’ Attitudes About Safe Schools Policies and Practices: Repositioning Parents as Youth Allies Through a Rights-Based Framework

Timothy B. Tasker, Christina R. Peter, Stacey S. Horn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The vast majority of young people experience gender or sexuality-based harassment in schools. Effective strategies exist for addressing this problem; however, little is known about parents’ attitudes toward such safe schools policies and practices. In light of recent legislation and case law that reify parental rights over children’s lives, parents’ attitudes toward these issues represent an important focus for research and intervention. In the current study, 301 Illinois parents completed an online survey assessing their attitudes about implementing specific safe schools policies and practices as well as their knowledge about their children’s harassment experiences in schools. Results demonstrate that parents overwhelmingly support practices that protect students from harm but are somewhat more ambivalent toward those that allow children to develop and assert agency. Though some demographic differences were observed in support for safe schools policies and practices, knowledge that their child had been harassed still predicted increased parental support after controlling for demographic effects. Our findings suggest that parents should be viewed as allies, rather than opponents, in the push to implement safe schools policies and practices. In addition, parental attitudes constitute a critical pathway through which young people may be able to affect change within their schools and communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-309
Number of pages11
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Volume11
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Bullying
  • Gender harassment
  • Homophobic harassment
  • Parent attitudes
  • School policy
  • Youth rights

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