Safety

School bus stop

School safety is defined as schools and school-related activities where students are safe from violence, bullying, harassment, and substance use.


Safe schools promotes the protection of students from violence, exposure to weapons and threats, theft, bullying, and the sale or use of illegal substances on school grounds.  School safety is linked to improved student and school outcomes. In particular, emotional and physical safety in school are related to academic performance. At the same time, students who are victims of physical or emotional harassment or who are involved in the sale or use of illegal substances on school grounds are at risk for poor attendance, course failure and dropout.

School safety affects all students.

The levels of crime and substance abuse that a school experiences are strongly correlated to school-wide test scores, graduation rates, and attendance rates. In schools with higher levels of collective hostility—as measured by student reports of feeling unsafe, the presence of gangs, and fighting between different groups of students—student reading achievement suffers. 

School climate improvement efforts promote emotional safety.

Programs to support character education and learning about social and emotional skills can substantially improve students' physical and emotional safety. This includes fostering emotional support between peers and staff, preventing hate speech, and implementing programs that teach social and emotional skills such as conflict resolution, anger management, and positive communication. Experimental research on these types of programs has shown that effective programs enhance social-emotional skills and attitudes, increase the frequency of positive social behavior, and reduce the frequency and severity of conduct issues and emotional problems.

Bullying is an example of the lack of physical and emotional safety many students experience.

In the 2008-09 school year, 28 percent of students ages 12-18 were bullied at school. The prevention of all forms of bullying, including threats, harassment, social isolation, or spreading rumors, particularly towards those groups at particular risk of being victimized by bullying, is typical of schools with a positive climate.

References

Boccanfuso, B., & Kuhfeld, M. (2011). Multiple responses, promising results: Evidence-based, nonpunitive alternatives to zero tolerance. Washington, DC: Child Trends.

Davis, J. E., & Jordan, W. T. (1994). The effects of school context, structure, and experiences on African American males in middle and high school. Journal of Negro Education, 63, 570-587.

Furlong, M. J., Whipple, A. D., St. Jean, G., Simental, J., Soliz, A., & Punthuna, S. (2003). Multiple contexts of school engagement: Moving toward a unifying framework for educational research and practice. The California School Psychologist, 8, 99-114.

DeVoe, J., & Murphy, C. (2011). Student Reports of Bullying and Cyber-Bullying: Results From the 2009 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey (No. NCES 2011-336). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

Fekkes, M., Pijpers, F. I. M., & Verloove-Vanhorick, S. P. (2006). Effects of Antibullying School Program on Bullying and Health Complaints. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 160(638-644).

Glew, G. M., Fan, M.-Y., Katon, W., Rivara, F. P., & Kernic, M. A. (2005). Bullying, Psychosocial Adjustment, and Academic Performance in Elementary School. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 159, 1026-1031.

Gottfredson, G., & Gottfredson, D. (2001). What schools do to prevent problem behavior and promote safe environments. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 12(4), 313-344.

Harper, K. (2010). Measuring School Climate. Paper presented at the Safe and Supportive Schools Grantee Meeting, Washington, DC.

Mayer, G. R. (2001). Antisocial behavior: Its causes and prevention within our schools. Education and Treatment of Children, 24, 414-429.

Nansel, T. R., Overpeck, M., Pilla, R. S., Ruan, W. J., Simons-Morton, B., & Scheidt, P. (2001). Bullying behaviors among US youth: prevalence and association with psychosocial adjustment. Journal of the American Medical Association, 285(16), 2094-2100.

Neild, R. C., Furstenberg Jr., F. F., & Stoner-Eby, S. (2002). Connecting Entrance and Departure: The Transition to Ninth Grade and High School Dropout. Unpublished.

Osher, D., & Kendziora, K. (2010). Building Conditions for Learning and Healthy Adolescent Development: Strategic Approaches. In B. Doll, W. Pfohl & J. Yoon (Eds.), Handbook of Youth Prevention Science. New York: Routledge

Osher, D., Sprague, J., Weissberg, R. P., Axelrod, J., Keenan, S., Kendziora, K., et al. (2008). A comprehensive approach to promoting social, emotional, and academic growth in contemporary schools. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology V (Vol. 4, pp. 1263–1278). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

Osher, D., Dwyer, K., & Jimerson, S. R. (2006). Safe, supportive, and effective schools. In S. R. Jimerson & M. J. Furlong (Eds.), Handbook of school violence and school safety: From research to practice (pp. 51-72). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Ripski, M. B., & Gregory, A. (Oct-Dec2009). Unfair, Unsafe, and Unwelcome: Do High School Students' Perceptions of Unfairness, Hostility, and Victimization in School Predict Engagement and Achievement? . Journal of School Violence, 8(4), 355-375.

Scales, P. C., & Roehlkepartain, E. C. (2004). Service to others: A gateway asset for school success and healthy development. In National Youth Leadership Council, Growing to greatness: The State of Service-Learning Project (pp. 26-32). St. Paul, MN: National Youth Leadership Council.

Skiba, R., & Rausch, M. K. (2004). The Relationship between Achievement, Discipline, and Race: An Analysis of Factors Predicting ISTEP Scores. Bloomington, IN: Center for Evaluation and Education Policy.

Steinberg, M. P., Allensworth, E., & Johnson, D. W. (2011). Student and Teacher Safety in Chicago Public Schools: The Roles of Community Context and School Social Organization. Chicago: Consortium on Chicago School Research.

 

Featured Resources

Describes the impact of increases in alcohol, drug, and suicide deaths. While it affects all age groups and all communities, the impact on people in their 20s and early 30s has been particularly pronounced. The report includes policy recommendations. 

Rhea Farberman & Albert Lang

Outlines the risks of marijuana on brain health, mental health, athletic performance, driving, infant health and development, and daily life. The site provides information about addiction and ways to get help. 

Outlines the relationship between bullying victimization and other variables of interest such as the reported presence of gangs, guns, drugs, alcohol, and hate-related graffiti at school. Provides alternatives with security measures, alternatives with avoidance behaviors, and weapon-carrying at school.

Provides competitve opportunities to increase the well-being of, improve permanency outcomes for, and enhance the safety of children who are in out-of-home placements or are at risk of entering out-of-home placements as a result of a parent's or caretaker's substance abuse. Also, sets out to report on performance indicators and evaluation measures to increase the knowledge that can be gained from the program. 

Provides guidance to states and school systems about addressing mental health and substance use issues in schools. Moreover, outlines examples for approaches or services when addressing these matters. 

Provides best practices and includes resources school leaders and teachers can utilize as they work to achieve a positive school climate, lower disciplinary issues and enhance school safety.

U.S. Department of Education

Shared in this resource are the causes of youth violence and what can be done to prevent it. In addition, details ways communities can use this guide effectively.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Division of Violence Prevention
Cover of report

Shares what the Federal Commission on School Safety found in research and recommends to advance safety in schools via prevention, protection and mitigation, and response and recovery. It touches on promoting mental health, addressing related discipline issues, and violence in schools.

Federal Commission on School Safety

Provides a listing of programming available to institutions of higher education to teaching incoming students about prevention. This free tool from Culture of Respect is a curated list of theory-driven and evidence-based sexual violence prevention programs available in the field. The matrix includes the program name, level of evidence, format, target audience, and special features. Culture of Respect does not endorse or support any one program; rather, it is a clearinghouse to help institutions identify those programs that best meet their needs. To learn more, visit each organization’s

Screenshot of the human trafficking 101 guide.

Helps school professionals better understand the issue of human trafficking and who is at risk for victimization. Included are a list of “red flags” that administrators and staff reference when identifying potential victims and hotlines to call to make a report.  

Blue Campaign

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