Document Type



Master of Arts


Criminology and Criminal Justice

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Elaine E. Doherty, Ph.D.


Lee Ann Slocum, Ph.D.

Elaine E. Doherty, Ph.D.

Finn-Aage Esbensen, Ph.D.


Over the course of the last two decades, anxiety over school shootings has continued to influence school safety reform. Due to prominent news coverage and growing fear over school shootings, school securitization in American public schools has expanded to include the arming of schoolteachers. While supporters advocate for the need to arm schoolteachers, little is known about the level of support the policy receives from the very people it is intended to protect - students. Although research examining students’ perceptions of school security is scant, existing research suggests that target-hardening measures may be counterproductive and that there are racial differences in the effect of school security practices. This study uses data from a sample of high school students participating in the University of Missouri – St. Louis Comprehensive School Safety Initiative (UMSL CSSI) to examine the extent of racial differences in attitudes on arming teachers and the mechanisms that account for such differences. Drawing on the Relational Model of Authority and procedural justice frameworks, this study examines how race and perceptions of fairness intersect to influence attitudes on arming teachers. The findings indicate that relative to White students, Black students are less supportive of arming teachers and anticipate greater decreases in safety if teachers are armed. In addition, perceptions of fairness mediate some of the effect of race on support and feelings of safety related to allowing teachers to carry guns at school. Implications for policy and future research are discussed.