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Crime in the Schools: Reducing Conflict With Student Problem Solving, Research in Brief

NCJ Number
177618
Author(s)
Dennis J. Kenney; Steuart Watson
Date Published
July 1999
Length
11 pages
Publication Series
Annotation
This study describes and assesses a student-based problem-solving model for reducing crime in the Nation's schools.
Abstract
As envisioned, school-based problem-solving changes the attitudes and/or behaviors of group members and offers the skills and knowledge needed to bring about desired change. A student-based problem-solving model has been successfully implemented in the Charlotte-Mecklenberg County (North Carolina) School District. Changes were expected in the rates of crime and violence; in the levels of fear among students, teachers, and staff; and in the overall attitudes of participants. The evaluation of the program used a quasi-experimental research design that captured data in three waves from more than 450 students attending 11th-grade social science classes in two schools (one experimental and one control) during the 1994-95 school year. Findings show that the most significant school problems had less to do with gangs, drugs, and armed students and more to do with daily school interactions that bear upon a safe, orderly school environment. Substantial levels of fear among students and teachers were significantly reduced by the second and third waves of data collection. Although nearly one in five students had to fight to protect themselves during the last school term before the start of the project, fewer than 1 in 10 did so by project completion. The number of students who saw teachers threatened by students declined by one-third, and those who witnessed physical attacks on teachers decreased by more than half. By the end of the project year, 40 percent fewer students in the experimental school feared that someone would hurt or bother them during school hours. Overall, there was a 29-percent school wide reduction in incidents that led to student suspension. 20 notes

Date Published: July 1, 1999