Ron Avi Astor
Ron Avi Astor holds joint appointments in the USC School of Social Work and USC Rossier School of Education. His work examines the role of the physical, social-organizational and cultural contexts in schools related to different kinds of school violence (e.g., sexual harassment, bullying, school fights, emotional abuse, weapon use, teacher/child violence). Astor’s studies have included tens of thousands of schools and millions of students, teachers, parents and administrators. Over the past 10 years, findings from these studies have been published in more than 150 scholarly manuscripts.
This work has documented the ecological influences of the family, community, school and culture on different forms of school violence. His book, School Violence in Context: Culture, Neighborhood, Family, School, and Gender, which was published by Oxford University Press with his close colleague Rami Benbenishty from Bar Ilan University, has been described by leading scholars in psychology, social work and education as the most comprehensive theoretically and empirically sound study of school violence conducted to date. The American Psychological Association recognized the contribution of the book with the William James Book Award in 2006, followed by the American Educational Research Association’s Outstanding Book Award in 2007. Astor also won AERA’s Distinguished Research Award twice in Human Development and Counseling in 2006 and 2010. In 2010, he received an honorary doctorate from Hebrew Union College based on this work. In 2012, Astor was named an AERA fellow, a prestigious title that has been given to fewer than 500 education scholars nationwide.
Astor has also developed a school mapping and local monitoring procedure that can be used with students and teachers to generate “grassroots” solutions to safety problems. The mapping procedure has received several international awards including the American Educational Research Association’s prestigious Palmer O. Johnson Award for best research article in 2000. The mapping and monitoring procedure is used in schools across the globe including Los Angeles and Tel Aviv. Along with colleagues at Bar Ilan and Hebrew University, he continues to conduct studies on the epidemiology of school violence in different cultures, the effects of stereotyping on the approval of violence across development in different cultures and democracy-oriented intervention studies that promote student and teacher participation to achieve school safety. The findings of these studies have been widely cited in the international media in the United States and Israel.
Currently, Astor is applying knowledge gained from these prior studies to improve school climate in military-connected schools. As principal investigator, Astor and his colleagues are leading an eight-year Department of Defense Educational Activity funded-research partnership with eight school districts. This partnership will create a national prototype for sustainable infrastructures that use data-driven models to create supportive schools. Staff, students and parents will be empowered to use evidence to improve school climate and address military students’ special needs. In addition, mobile applications will be developed to assist parents, students, teachers and administrators in providing resources and services.
His work has been funded by the Department of Defense Educational Activity, National Institutes of Mental Health, H.F. Guggenheim Foundation, National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, William T. Grant Foundation, Israeli Ministry of Education, a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship, University of Michigan, USC and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.