Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Dr. Miriam A. DeLon


The rise of youth involvement in crime and the increase in crime associated with schools has prompted growing national concern and evoked serious scholarly attention. Traditionally, research involving youth and crime centers on offender rather than environmental characteristics. The purpose of this work is to shift the emphasis from the individual to the environment by replicating and extending the work of Roncek and associates which was based, in part, on Cohen and Felson’s Routine Activities theory. The work by Roncek and associates demonstrated that residential blocks with or adjacent to public high schools have higher incidence of crime than other residential blocks. In this study, all Cleveland schools registered with the Ohio Department of Education were used as independent variable measures for the dependent variable of Cleveland burglaries from 1989 to 1991. The school measures were decomposed into separate categories for public and private as well as for grade levels served. Thus, these distinctions differentiate between elementary, middle and high schools. Additionally, measures of adjacency and the effects of enrollment size were taken into account as independent variables. Other independent variables that controlled for social and environmental characteristics were also included. The analyses conducted were t-tests, regression analysis and Tobit analysis. The results are somewhat surprising. Unlike the work by Roncek and associates, here public high schools were not found to have a significant effect—either for presence or adjacency. In fact, the only schools found to have significant effects were public elementary schools serving grades kindergarten through five (k-5)—which had statistical significance for presence and primary adjacency. Also, unlike previous findings, this study found that size of enrollment was a statistically significant variable. As indicated by the Tobit analyses, the effect above the limit for k-5 enrollment/presence shows an increase of .101 in burglaries per additional student on blocks with burglaries while the probability effect shows a .019 increase in the probability of a block without burglaries having one. For primary adjacency the effect above the limit shows an increase in the number of burglaries by .028 per additional student in the school to which the block with burglaries is adjacent while the probability effect indicates a .005 increase in the probability of an adjacent block without burglaries to have a burglary per additional student. It is unclear from the data why these public elementary schools demonstrated an effect while other public elementary schools did not. Since most of the grades serviced overlap, the overall environment, facilities and activity levels should be relatively comparable for all public elementary schools. One possible explanation of this difference is that the majority of the public elementary schools are k-5 rather than any of the other variations. The effect could be based on sheer numbers. In any case, the need for further replications of these findings is clearly necessary before any meaningful conclusions can be drawn regarding the relationship between burglary and such schools. Clearly, the potential dividends of reducing burglary through controlling school enrollments are great and merit further attention.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Criminal Justice and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Paula M. Kautt November, 1996.