U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Coping Power in the City: Promoting Safety and Coping Skills in Baltimore City High Schools

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $4,987,399)

Statement of the Problem: Urban high schools face high rates of crime, aggressive behavior, and student disruption. These issues are compounded in Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools), where 9th grade attendance is lowest and suspensions for violent offenses are highest. To prevent school violence, City Schools retains its own Baltimore City School Police Force (BCSPF); however, research suggests trust in the local police and justice system is extremely low. Tensions have heightened in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray, the young African American who suffered a fatal injury while in Baltimore City police custody. This proposal represents a comprehensive, multi-partner response to both recent and historical youth violence related challenges in City Schools. We have a dual focus on 1) 9th graders (including their parents and teachers) using the research-based Coping Power (Lechman & Wells, 2002a) program to address aggression, safety, mental health concerns, and academic engagement; and 2) the BCSPF using training in trauma-informed/ Mental Health First Aid, threat assessmenUde-escalation, and cultural proficiency/adolescent development to promote positive student-police relationship-building. Subjects: The randomized controlled trial (RCT) sample is 600 9th graders attending 10 Baltimore City high schools. The pre-post evaluation sample is 160 Baltimore City School Police Officers. Partnerships: This proposal represents a partnership including the Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools), Johns Hopkins University (JHU), University of Virginia (UVA), Sheppard Pratt Health System (SPHS), and the Maryland Center for School Safety (MCSS), which leverages a successful 15-year partnership. Research Design and Methods: Objectives are to (1) Develop and refine the existing evidence-based Coping Power model and assess the acceptability and feasibility of the integrated approach among City Schools 9th graders and the BCSPF; (2) test the efficacy of Coping Power for improving behavior and mental health problems using an RCT; and (3) evaluate the broader impacts of the multi-component initiative (including a 3-part BCSPF training and use of video surveillance data) on officer knowledge and skills and student behaviors and perceptions. Analysis: Descriptive and qualitative analyses will determine program feasibility and acceptability. Primary RCT analyses include multilevel modeling to compare the two conditions on student behavioral and mental health outcomes over 3 data points across 2 years. Products: Products include a manualized Coping Power intervention for urban high school youth, parents, teachers, and school police; three-part BCSPF training series; peer-reviewed and practitioner-oriented articles and briefs; and, archived data files submitted to NIJ. This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law. ca/ncf
Date Created: September 30, 2015