What are they key ingredients for keeping schools safe? The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) offers the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative to fund studies that identify threats to school safety. It encourages educators to partner with law enforcement, mental health professionals and other stakeholders to turn this research into practical blue prints that can improve safety in schools across the nation.
3 Main Objectives
The three main objectives of the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative are as follows:
- Increase the scientific knowledge about the root causes, characteristics and consequences of school violence
- Employ rigorous methodology in evaluation school safety programs, practices and strategies
- Develop a comprehensive framework based on the best available evidence and test it in selected school districts
In addition to these objectives, the program's priorities include expanding the scientific body of knowledge relating to school resources officers (SROs), understanding implicit bias as it relates to school discipline and coordination within the criminal justice system, and disinvesting in ineffective school safety programs.
5 Categories for Funding
- Developing novel and innovative school safety programs, practices and strategies
- Demonstration, evaluation and validation tests for school safety
- Expanding the use of effective interventions through scaling-up
- Research on school safety
- Understanding school safety in tribal schools
Selected Past Recipients
- The Arizona Department of Education and the University of Arizona will collect empirical data about the effectiveness of SROs and identify which of their activities are the most effective.
- The City of Chicago and the University of Chicago's Crime Lab's Connect and Redirect to Respect Program will monitor social media, identify at-risk students and link them to Gang School Safety Teams for intervention. If successful, this approach may lead to a best practice model for disrupting gang activity that can be used across the country.
- The School District of Pittsburgh and the RAND Corporation will measure the ability of restorative practices to reduce violence, racial and gender disparities in suspensions, and improve attendance and respect among peers.
- The Oakland Unified School district partnered with WestEd and other researchers to conduct the first randomized controlled trial of No Bullying System, an intervention program that is widely used throughout the country.
- The Jackson Public School District and Rand will scientifically evaluate Tools for Life, a popular elementary school program that helps students build both interpersonal skills like conflict resolution and intrapersonal skills like resiliency. The study will examine how closely schools are able to follow the original program design, its cost-effectiveness and its ability to affect school safety.
- The Research Foundation of CUNY John Jay College of NY will create the first open-source database that will contain all known K-12 shootings resulting in at least one injury since 1990. Its purpose is to provide reliable data to evaluate what factors contribute to school shootings, as well as what intervention strategies can be utilized to reduce their potential to cause harm once they occur. The study will create journal articles, training manuals, and other informational material for law enforcement and school personnel.
Applying for the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative
Eligible applicants are Native American tribes and tribal organizations, state and local governments, academic institutions, nonprofits and the private sector. Apply by March 24, 2017. The NIJ also has a website rating existing school safety programs for effectiveness.