Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Charles S. Hausman

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Second Advisor

Tara Shepperson

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Third Advisor

Michelyn W. Bhandari

Department Affiliation

Health Promotion and Administration


The perception of feeling safe in school impacts academic achievement of students. As the number of school shootings has grown, implementing effective school safety plans has become a significant job duty of educators. There is some conflict in the exact constructs that fit within the school safety definition and often behavioral health issues are not addressed as part of the school safety planning process. Research shows that when students don’t feel safe their behavioral health issues increase (Fletcher, A., Bonell, C., Sorhaindo, A., & Strange, V., 2009). The multivariable regression study identified the association of substance use, mental health issues, personal victimization and problem behaviors on the perception of safety among middle and high school students in Kentucky schools, utilizing results from the 2016 administration of the KIP youth survey in order to determine the role of these constructs in developing school safety responses. Analysis of the results found a strong association between the perception of safety and substance use, mental health, personal victimization and problem behaviors of Kentucky students. Analysis also identified that being in high school, being any race other than White, and being male also increased the perception of feeling unsafe at school. Understanding the associations between these issues will allow prevention professionals and school administrators to work collaboratively to address the issues that impact the perception of school safety and to increase the overall safety of students and staff. The results of the study will enhance delivery of comprehensive prevention efforts focused on the variables of interest as one method of improving the perception of safety in the educational setting.