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Mobile App for Reporting Student Behaviors Coupled with School Safety Curriculum Shows Promise

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2022

Research indicates that nearly one-fifth of all high school students report being bullied at school or online, and this percentage has remained steady in recent years. The results of this type of victimization range from absenteeism to suicidal ideation, self-injury, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and sometimes even violent revenge-driven behavior at school. Students often share information about their violent intentions at school with their peers, but their peers can be reluctant to share what they hear about these violent intentions with teachers or school administrators. This article discusses how a group of National Institute of Justice-funded researchers created a four-phase project called SOARS (Student Ownership, Accountability, and Responsibility for School Safety) to address school safety. The researchers’ goal for SOARS was to create a student-centered and technology-driven comprehensive school safety framework to promote students’ ability to communicate violent intentions to the school before they occur, take a non-punitive approach to school discipline, foster active participation of students to resolve conflict, and prevent peer victimization from re-occurring. Based on feedback from focus groups, the researchers developed a mobile app used to report both positive and negative student behaviors, a nine-week curriculum on school safety, informational briefs for school personnel to aid them in supporting students, and guidelines for a school-wide safety campaign to raise awareness. A pilot test was conducted within four high schools (two intervention and two control) to test the effectiveness of the entire framework. Over the course of the study period, the students using the app reported statistically significant improvements in students’ perceptions of personal safety and lower levels of disruptive behaviors in their school.

Date Published: September 1, 2022