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Crime in the Schools: A Problem-Solving Approach

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 1998
4 pages
Publication Series
Designed to bring together students, teachers, administrators, and the police to focus on and identify school problems and effective responses, this School Safety Program had three major components--regular meetings among faculty, administrators and the police; problem-solving classes for students; and regular reviews by the police and teachers to identify problem students.
A problem-solving curriculum was developed by teachers and research staff and was integrated into a social studies course required of all 11th grade students. The curriculum was based on the SARA (scanning, analysis, response, and assessment) problem-solving model and was designed to be student-driven, with teachers serving mainly as mentors and facilitators. Students identified and prioritized problems through open class discussions and then analyzed the problems using a variety of information gathering methods. Next, they formulated responses and brainstormed solutions using the information previously collected. Finally, students evaluated their action plans. Students proposed specific solutions to deal with fighting and disorder in the lunchroom. As the school year progressed, levels of fear reported by students dropped significantly. At the beginning of the program, just over 50 percent of students said they were almost never afraid in school; this figure reached 75 percent at the end of the school year. In addition, actual incidents of violence appeared to decline. Police calls for service also declined, teachers reported substantial declines in incidents of vandalism and theft, and the amount of time teachers spent with disruptive students declined. The author concludes that students are interested in and can contribute to a safer, more orderly school environment.

Date Published: August 1, 1998