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

Crime and Safety Report Cover Page

Presents the most recent data available on school crime and student safety. The indicators in this report are based on information drawn from a variety of data sources, including national surveys of students, teachers, principals, and postsecondary institutions. The report covers topics such as victimization, teacher injury, bullying and cyberbullying, school conditions, fights, weapons, availability and student use of drugs and alcohol, student perceptions of personal safety at school, and criminal incidents at postsecondary institutions.

Lauren Musu-Gillette, Anlan Zhang, Ke Wang, Jizhi Zhang, Jana Kemp, Melissa Diliberti, & Barbara A. Oudekerk
StopBullying.gov logo

Describes bullying in language friendly to young people, and includes helpful information for kids and for adults; offers educational, animated "webisodes" featuring characters who are involved in bullying and its prevention for "tweens." Website also provides a database on State and local laws and policies related to bullying.

U.S. Department of Education

Contains mobile app resources for suicide prevention, bullying prevention, behavioral health following a disaster, and underage drinking prevention. Each of the resources provides information, tips, and guidance on ways to address different situations, particularly on how to appropriately respond and interact with individuals in need.

SAMHSA
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) logo

Provides states, providers, communities and the public with the best and most up-to-date information about behavioral health issues and prevention/treatment approaches.

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