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School Rules and Perceived Fairness

Enforcing school rules consistently and fairly is a critical factor that shapes how safe people feel in school. Consistent enforcement of school rules and the availability of caring adults have been referred to as “structure and support” (Gregory et al., 2010). Studies have shown that structure and support are linked to lower suspension rates and more student willingness to seek help in bullying situations (Eliot, Cornell, Gregory, & Fan, 2010; Gregory et al., 2011). Many Scholars claim that positive school climate is linked with reduced aggression and violence (Brookmeyer, Fanti, & Henrich, 2006; Goldstein, Young, & Boyd, 2008; Gregory et al., 2010; Karcher, 2002b), reduced bullying behavior (Birkett et al., 2009; Kosciw & Elizabeth, 2006; Meraviglia, Becker, Rosenbluth, Sanchez, & Robertson, 2003; Meyer-Adams & Conner, 2008; Yoneyama & Rigby, 2006), and reduced sexual harassment, regardless of sexual orientation (AttarSchwartz, 2009).

Scholarly articles accentuate the importance of school rules and perceived fairness in regard to dealing with students’ behavior. There is evidence that schools in which rules are effectively enforced or schools with better discipline management have lower rates of student victimization and student delinquency (Gottfredson, Gottfredson, Payne, & Gottfredson, 2005). One of the most important explicit or implicit norms in schools relates to “witness-related” behaviors: either being a passive bystander who, knowingly or not, colludes with and supports bully-victim behavior or being an upstander who, directly or indirectly, says “no” to bully-victim behavior. (Thapa, A., Cohen, J., Guffey, S., & Higgins-D’Alessandro, A. (2013). A review of the school climate research. Review of Educational Research, 83(3), 357–385).

IINII uses a revolutionary Design Thinking process to help your school community gain an understanding of one’s sense of self, as well as developing an understanding of students’ and parents’ values; having an understanding of one’s values matters because research has shown that it is linked to better well-being, less stress, and increased confidence in one’s ability to succeed.

Understanding students’ values can be developed with culturally sustaining practices that reflect a student’s identity and experience. Particularly helpful is focusing efforts on cultural competence and relevance and providing opportunities for students to practice bridging differences between diverse identities in a safe environment. To learn how you can create a dynamic youth-centered environment that honors the unique values of your students and parents, visit our website at, or contact us at or 1800-507-2502.

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