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Final Summary Overview: Understanding the Impact of School Safety on the High School Transition Experience: From Etiology to Prevention

NCJ Number
Chris Melde; Jennifer Cobbina; Justin Heinze; Marc Zimmerman
Date Published
February 2020
21 pages

This is the Final Summary Overview of the report on a research project that examined the causes and consequences of school violence, focusing on the transition into high school, since this is a critical juncture in the life course.


Youth were surveyed to identify patterns of violence exposure and victimization, determine the prevalence and seriousness of polyvictimization among youth, and determine the distribution of resiliency factors across the student population. Longitudinal, in-depth interviews were conducted with students to determine how they cope with risks associated with school and community violence as they transition into high school, school influences on polyvictimization, and the etiology of violent incidents on school grounds. The findings from the previous research were presented to the Flint-area stakeholders for guided implications. The project used a mixed-methods study that focused on the role of school safety in the transition of students from elementary school in the Flint Community School (FCS) system to middle and high schools located in and around Flint. The study found that victimization rates for the sample were in excess of that for the general U.S. population of school-aged youth. Given evidence of the ramifications of polyvictimization on student health and well-being, coupled with the high rates of polyvictimization in this population, targeted resources for mitigating harms experienced by students are necessary, along with measures for preventing future victimization. The role of social media and the internet in the etiology of violence and conflict must be addressed. Given the pervasiveness of the issue in the FCS, non-targeted interventions for the general school-based population are likely to produce widespread benefits. Significant challenges are inconsistent messaging and turnover in leadership on core issues of student safety.