Examines policy developments within an 11-site Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships initiative supported implemented from 2008 through 2012 to reduce teen dating violence (TDV) by promoting healthy relationship skills among middle school students. Established merit of a three-streamed approach to policy advocacy, development and enactment that shows significant promise for parallel policy work in related initiatives.
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5. Creating Safe and Violence-Free Schools
It is critical to identify and address issues, conditions, behaviors, and structures that contribute to unsafe environments and violence in schools. Specifically, how schools respond to disruptive and aggressive behavior among students impacts the potential for and level of violence to which students are exposed at school.
An important goal of SS/HS is to reduce student exposure to aggressive behavior and violence in schools, and to improve the safety for all students. To meet these goals, SS/HS works to increase the services available in the school that provide prevention, early intervention, and classroom-wide and school-wide curricula that target reducing aggressive and disruptive behavior as well as violence at school. SS/HS also seeks to develop collaborations with community and public mental health organizations to bolster violence reduction services provided to students in schools.
School bus drivers play an instrumental role in both promoting student mental health and reducing violence and bullying among students. To support bus drivers in these roles, leaders from Middletown, Connecticut instituted two programs: The Peaceful School Bus program aimed to decrease disruptive behavior and bullying on school buses, and Kognito aimed to help bus drivers identify and refer students experiencing mental health challenges.
The Boys Town Specialized Classroom model was implemented to reduce disruptive behaviors, discipline referrals, and absenteeism among students with emotional and behavioral problems in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The model is implemented by classroom teachers and has strong evidence of reducing office referrals and disruptive behaviors, and increasing academic engagement, instruction time, and on-task behaviors among students.
To reduce the incidence of suspensions and expulsions, particularly for male students of color who are disproportionately impacted, Connecticut employed a Restorative Practices approach across its SS/HS districts. Baseline data indicated that statewide, male students were twice as likely to be suspended as female students, which was true for all racial and ethnic groups. Further, Black and Hispanic boys were 2-3 times as likely to be suspended or expelled as White boys, and Black and Hispanic girls were 4-6 times more likely to get such a sanction as their White counterparts.
“The Collaboratory” integrates various state grants and initiatives to ensure a climate of collaboration. State leaders worked together to develop a State Integration Team to include many state initiatives in order to align the work across the state. The initiatives include: Project AWARE, School Climate Transformation, Pre-K Development, Systems of Care, Office for a Safe and Respectful Learning Environment, OJJDP Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, and State Youth Treatment Planning for Substance Abuse.
The Nevada Department of Education, Office of Safe and Respectful Learning Environment (NDE OSRLE), established the Governor’s Social Workers in Schools Initiative with the focus of creating safe schools through prevention programming as well as a system of multi-tiered interventions for students. Providing a social worker in the schools has enhanced the strategy to create safer schools.
The Michigan Health and Education Partnership (MHEP) was created and expanded from its original SS/HS structure to facilitate bidirectional communication among state and local partners to support best practices, integration, and services that contribute to successful educational, physical, and behavioral health outcomes for all children and families.
Disciplinary referrals were reduced by 28% from the 2013-14 to 2015-16 school year by implementing a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) and evidence-based practices, such as Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBS) and restorative practices, with fidelity at the elementary, middle, and high schools in all three SS/HS LEAs in Michigan.
The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and the PAX Good Behavior Game are evidence-based programs (EBPs) that appear on the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP). These classroom-based universal preventive intervention provides teachers’ strategies to grow nurturing classroom environments, foster social-emotional health, improve students’ attention and focus to academic tasks, provides trauma-informed prevention strategies to use as classroom management practices.
The Ohio Healthy Youth Environments Survey (OHYES!) is a free, voluntary, web-based survey to collect information that schools, communities leaders, and parents can use to identify important areas of need, access resources to reduce risk behaviors, create healthy and safe communities, schools. and family environments, and to track improvements in health and safety over time. OHYES! is a statewide survey of Ohio school students in 7th and 11th grades.
Safe Schools / Healthy Students
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