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

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
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
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.


Date Created: September 30, 2015