The School Assessment for Environmental Typology (SAfETy): An Observational Measure of the School Environment

Catherine P. Bradshaw, Adam J. Milam, C. Debra M. Furr-Holden, Sarah Lindstrom Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


School safety is of great concern for prevention researchers, school officials, parents, and students, yet there are a dearth of assessments that have operationalized school safety from an organizational framework using objective tools and measures. Such a tool would be important for deriving unbiased assessments of the school environment, which in turn could be used as an evaluative tool for school violence prevention efforts. The current paper presents a framework for conceptualizing school safety consistent with Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) model and social disorganization theory, both of which highlight the importance of context as a driver for adolescents’ risk for involvement in substance use and violence. This paper describes the development of a novel observational measure, called the School Assessment for Environmental Typology (SAfETy), which applies CPTED and social disorganizational frameworks to schools to measure eight indicators of school physical and social environment (i.e., disorder, trash, graffiti/vandalism, appearance, illumination, surveillance, ownership, and positive behavioral expectations). Drawing upon data from 58 high schools, we provide preliminary data regarding the validity and reliability of the SAfETy and describe patterns of the school safety indicators. Findings demonstrate the reliability and validity of the SAfETy and are discussed with regard to the prevention of violence in schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-292
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican journal of community psychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Aug 22 2015


  • Adolescents
  • Environment
  • Observations
  • Safety
  • School climate
  • Schools

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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