This article briefly profiles five ongoing projects of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the scientific research arm of the U.S. Justice Department, under the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative (CSSI), which was established in 2014 to fund research and programs that will improve school safety.
The rationale for CSSI is that the knowledge produced from scientific research will have wider and more effective applicability for schools across the Nation than funding for multiple single-school safety measures. The studies underway are developing and rigorously evaluating innovative programs, practices, and strategies that will help determine which potential solutions are the most effective in addressing schools' safety needs. "Best Practices for Reducing Disciplinary Incidents" is a CSSI program in Connecticut that is determining best practices for reducing student disciplinary incidents and consistent and ineffective disciplinary responses. Another CSSI project is examining the effectiveness of school resource officers (SROs), police officers placed in schools to improve the safety of students, in California and Florida. This research is focusing on how the effectiveness of SROs varies by the student-body composition and school and community characteristics. Findings will inform training requirements for SROs. A third CSSI project involves fusion center pilot programs. It is evaluating the effects of an innovative intelligence fusion center called Campus Shield, which uses a data collection, analysis, and dissemination system to identify potential threats to school safety, both immediate and over time. A fourth CSSI project is examining the effectiveness of SROs who receive enhanced training and work in multi-agency teams with mental health professionals. In a fifth CSSI project, the University of Virginia has partnered with the Virginia Department of Education to investigate the effectiveness of student threat assessments.
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