Are homicide and drug trafficking linked to peer physical victimization in Costa Rican schools?

G. Gimenez , L. Tkacheva, B. Barrado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: This study investigates the connection between crime rates and victimization by peer physical aggression in Costa Rican schools. Although previous research has demonstrated that peer victimization is related to community crime, no study to date has examined its association with homicides and drug trafficking, 2 criminal offenses that are key in Latin America. Method: We combined information on crime rates and socioeconomic characteristics at the district level with the data on peer physical victimization, school climate, and characteristics of student–teacher relationships, retrieved from the Programme for International Student Assessment Questionnaire. In total, 6,866 adolescents were surveyed, with an average age of 15 years, attending 205 schools, located in 154 districts. In the estimated probit model, the introduction of a variable representing districts’ social development and of fixed effects, at school and district levels, helped us to deal with unobserved heterogeneity. Results: We found that attending schools situated in districts with higher homicide rates and cocaine confiscations increase the probability of suffering victimization by peer physical aggression at school, whereas attending schools with high economic, social, and cultural status, which offer sports activities for students and which were situated in the districts with a high level of social development, decrease the possibility of peer physical victimization. Conclusions: These results suggest that interventions beyond school level are needed to ensure the safety of students inside of schools and, thus, effective preventive programs should address crime at the neighborhood level. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-198
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology of Violence
Issue number2
Early online date31 Oct 2020
StatePublished - 18 Feb 2021

Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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