The incidence of school violence has risen to unacceptable levels; the National School Safety Center estimates that nearly 3 million crimes occur yearly in or near school campuses, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that at least 105 school-related violent deaths occurred during the 2-year period between July 1992 and June 1994.
To respond to questions raised by the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families on the rising level of school violence, the General Accounting Office (GAO) reviewed the research literature on youth violence prevention and interviewed violence prevention program directors, Federal agency officials, and acknowledged experts. In addition, the GAO visited violence prevention programs in four cities and talked with students, teachers, and school administrators. The GAO review found that violence prevention literature and experts consistently associate the following characteristics with promising school-based violence prevention programs: comprehensive approach, early start and long-term commitment, strong leadership and disciplinary policies, staff development, parental involvement, interagency partnerships and community linkages, and culturally sensitive and developmentally appropriate approach. Schools use various educational and noneducational approaches to reduce violence, and many school-based violence prevention programs operate on the premise that violence is a learned behavior. The four school violence prevention programs visited by GAO staff have shown initial signs of success. A program in Anaheim, California, stresses school management and order issues and reports reductions in the incidence of student fighting, graffiti, and defiance of authority. Schools in Paramount, California, use an antigang curriculum to reduce gang membership among students. A program in Dayton, Ohio, provides students with social skills and anger management training, while a New York City program uses conflict resolution and peer mediation training to reduce student fighting. Appendixes contain detailed supplemental information on the GAO review of promising school violence prevention initiatives. 21 references, 2 tables, and 1 figure
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Report to the Subcommittee on Children and Families, Committee on Labor and Human Resources, US Senate