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Ron Astor - USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Los Angeles, CA, US

Ron Astor Ron Astor

Lenore Stein-Wood and William S. Wood Professor of School Behavioral Health Professor of Social Work Dept. of Children Youth and Families | USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work


Astor's work examines the role of physical, social-organizational & cultural contexts in schools related to school violence




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2014 CSWA Keynote: Dr. Ron Avi Astor “Military-Connected Children”



Ron Avi Astor holds joint appointments in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and the 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.

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.

Education (5)

University of California, Berkeley,: PhD 1991

University of California, Berkeley: MA 1989

Hebrew Union College: MA 1985

University of Southern California: MSW 1985

California State University, Northridge: BA 1983

Areas of Expertise (22)

Military children and public schools Childhood violence in different cultures Peer Pressure Group Dynamics Stereotyping and Violence Mapping Violence in Schools School Safety Interventions School Social Work Children, Youth and Families Retribution Schools Military Social Work Bullying School Safety Behavioral Health Terrorism and School Violence Crisis Intervention at School School Bullying and Victimization Moral Reasoning and Violence Bystander Effect Children’s understanding of violence and retribution Schools in Israel

Industry Expertise (2)

Research Education/Learning

Accomplishments (6)

George D. Nickel Award for Outstanding Professional Services by a Social Worker, California Social Welfare Archives (professional)


Advisor for Dissertation of the Year, Division E, American Educational Research Association (professional)


Excellence in Research Award, Society for Social Work and Research (professional)


Distinguished Research Award, American Educational Research Association, Division E, Human Development (professional)


Honorary Doctorate, Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles (professional)


Outstanding Book Award, American Educational Research Association (professional)


Affiliations (6)

  • National Academy of Education: Member
  • American Educational Research Association: National Bullying Task Force Co-chair
  • American Educational Research Association: American Educational Research Association
  • Military Child Education California Public Living in the New Normal (LINN): Public Engagement Co-chair
  • National Scientific Advisory Board for Military Child Educational Coalition
  • American Educational Research Association: National Book of the Year Chair designate


Media Appearances (3)

One-fifth of L.A. public high school students said they'd been bullied last year

Los Angeles Times  online


Teaching has become increasingly complicated, with instructors already required, among other things, to get annual training to recognize and report sexual misconduct, to deliver specialized instruction to students learning English, and to stay up to date on academic goals, teaching methods and technology.

But curbing bullying also is important, said Ron Avi Astor, a professor at USC’s schools of social work and education.

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No weapons, more social and emotional learning, and don’t sweat the grizzlies’

HuffPost  online


Repeal of the gun-free zones will likely increase the number of guns brought by students to schools — and the risk of gun-related violence. It will decrease students’ sense of safety if more of their peers bring weapons to school. We should address the root causes of weapons on school grounds and lower the overall number of students affected day to day by the presence of weapons in many of their schools.

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Positive school climates shown to narrow achievement gaps

USC News  online


“Our analysis of more than 15 years’ worth of research shows that schools do matter and can do much to improve academic outcomes,” said study co-author Ron Avi Astor, a professor in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and the USC Rossier School of Education. “Our findings suggest that by promoting a positive climate, schools can allow greater equality in educational opportunities, decrease socioeconomic inequalities and enable more social mobility.”

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  • Keynote
  • Moderator
  • Panelist
  • Author Appearance

Articles & Publications (5)

Implementation of a School Districtwide Grassroots Antibullying Initiative: A School Staff and Parent–Focused Evaluation of Because Nice Matters Children & Schools

Kris Tunac De Pedro Diana Pineda Gordon Capp Hadass Moore Rami Benbenishty Ron Avi Astor


This study presents a grassroots process in which a military-connected school used a data-driven approach to assess its needs and devise a school- and communitywide antibullying initiative, Because Nice Matters (BNM). The results, drawn from local data on bullying rates from one military-connected high school, suggested a decrease in various forms of bullying during the course of BNM.

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School Climate Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education

Ruth Berkowitz, Aidyn Iachini, Hadass Moore, Gordon Capp, Ron Avi Astor, Ronald Pitner, and Rami Benbenishty


Educational practitioners and researchers have increasingly recognized the importance of the context in which learning occurs, particularly the influence of school climate on students’ academic, social, and emotional outcomes. School climate is based on the subjective experiences of school life for students, staff members, school leaders, parents, and the entire school community.

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Articles Partners at Learning: A Service-Learning Approach to Serving Public School Students from Military Families Military Behavioral Health

Gordon Capp, Rami Benbenishty Bar Ilan University School of Social Work, Ramat Gan, Israel, Hadass Moore, Diana Pineda, Ron Avi Astor, Berenice Castillo & Kris T. De Pedro


The majority of 4 million United States military-connected students attend public schools, and many face various challenges that stem from factors related to military service. Schools can support these students through a positive school climate and attention to their needs. University service-learning programs can enhance the experiences of military-connected students. This study presents an evaluation of the Partners at Learning program, where undergraduate university students provided tutoring to underserved students, including military-connected students.

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Parental Involvement and Perceptions of School Climate in California Urban Education

Ruth Berkowitz, Ron Avi Astor, Diana Pineda, Kris Tunac DePedro, Eugenia L. Weiss, Rami Benbenishty


Parental involvement plays a significant role in students’ social and academic outcomes. Nevertheless, systemic ways of gathering parental views have not been used or highlighted in the policy arena or the literature. Using data from the first major statewide survey of parents in California, drawn from the California School Parent Survey (N = 15,829), this study examined parental perceptions of school climate, school problems, and school encouragement of parental involvement.

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School Staff Perceptions of Military-Connected Students in Civilian Public Schools: Implications for Teachers, Counselors, and School Staff Military Behavioral Health

Gordon Capp, Ron Avi Astor, Rami Benbenishty, Eugenia Weiss & Diana Pineda


Nearly all public school districts serve some of the 4 million military-connected students in the United States. Little is known about the perceptions of school staff and their understanding of the challenges facing these students in their schools. Results from 4,616 California school staff in 2011 and 2013 indicate that many believe in their capacity to respond to the needs of these students. However, in many cases, they do not know whether particular challenges or assets exist.

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