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School Violence Drops With Federal Program

Participating districts report safer campuses and communities,,,,

THURSDAY, Nov. 5 (HealthDay News) -- A program called Safe Schools/Healthy Students greatly increases the safety of students, says a U.S. government report.

Over three years, school districts participating in the program had a 15 percent decrease in the number of students involved in violent incidents, from 17,800 to 15,163, according to the report. The number of students who reported experiencing or witnessing violence fell 12 percent.

Among school staff, 84 percent said the program improved school safety, 77 percent said it reduced violence on campus and 75 percent said it reduced violence in the community, the report noted.

School districts involved in the Safe Schools/Healthy Students program initiate a comprehensive, community-wide plan that includes the following elements:

  • Improving the safety of school environments and providing violence prevention activities
  • Offering mental health services
  • Added focus on student behavioral, social and emotional supports
  • Implementing alcohol-, tobacco- and drug-prevention activities
  • More access to early childhood social and emotional learning programs

The elements are provided in partnership with local police, juvenile justice systems and mental health agencies. The program is funded by the federal government.

"Every child deserves to learn in a safe and healthy environment, and now, through the results of the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative, we know that we can take real steps to help them," Eric Broderick, acting administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, said in an agency news release.

"The positive impact for children, families and communities is unprecedented: lower rates of school violence, more mental health services for more children, better attendance and improved academic performance," Broderick said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about school safety.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, news release, Nov. 2, 2009

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