The purpose of this research was to further develop an instrument assessing the prevalence of student-on-student victimization in the schools. This research was initiated and conducted in response to the need for a comprehensive and validated self-report measure of student-on-student victimization. Specifically, the Adolescent Index for School Safety (AISS) was designed to fill this void by assessing the prevalence of student-on-student victimization across four victimization domains: physical, emotional, property, and sexual victimization. Prior to its inception, no victimization instrument existed that measured all of the domains of victimization as it pertained to adolescents in school. Items were derived through a review of SSV research, available child and adolescent victimization instruments, as well as from existing adult measures. Based upon this investigation, 66 items measuring student-on-student victimization in schools were written for the domains identified by a team of researchers. Initial studies of the AISS were promising, but did not directly evaluate the reliability and validity of the measure. As such, the current research sought to continue with the development of the instrument.
First, a content validity study involving four external reviewers was completed to assess item appropriateness. As a result of the study, 45 items concerning the prevalence of SSV (emotional, physical, property, and sexual victimization) were maintained from the original form. Next, available AISS data from 563 participants were utilized in a confirmatory factory analysis (CFA) to evaluate the proposed four-factor model of victimization. Goodness of fit indices for the analysis were variable, but generally did not support the theoretically proposed SSV model. A modified AISS subjected to CFA produced similar findings. In light of the theoretical support for the model, the 45-victimization item AISS was maintained for use in subsequent analyses. Reliability of the AISS overall was moderate to strong, with good internal consistency (r=0.91), split-half reliability (r=0.77), and test-retest reliability (r=0.80). Discriminant and convergent validity were supported through an investigation of hypotheses concerning known facets of student-on-student victimization. As well, the AISS was shown to correlate appropriately with the Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale (r=0.412), revealing criterion-related validity as individuals reporting victimization also reported increased psychological distress. Convergent validity was demonstrated through a strong correlation of the AISS and a similar instrument, the Bully Victimization Scale (r=0.497).
Based on the overall findings, support for the construct validity of the AISS was moderately established. Though the AISSí factor structure was not confirmed, all findings regarding the total measure were at least modestly reflective of general validity and reliability. Further studies investigating the AISS will be helpful in determining whether results were inhibited by demographic/sample limitations. Nonetheless, based on empirical findings, the AISS can be considered a clinically useful measure in the evaluation of student-on-student victimization. Researchers and clinicians can utilize the measure to assess information pertaining to the overall school climate, as well as individual prevalences of victimization. With such information and subsequent increased understanding, more effective individual and systematic interventions may be developed in the overall prevention of student-on-student victimization and its detrimental effects.