In 2001, the first Surgeon General’s report on youth violence presented a comprehensive review of the root causes of violence and called for investment in cross-level research designs that examine multiple risk factors across individual, school, and community levels simultaneously. Since then we have learned that exposure to violence and adverse circumstances in multiple settings over time, can alter a youth’s developmental pathway and effects may linger into adulthood.
A comprehensive approach to school safety requires a focus on the root causes within the school and larger community setting. Schools and school staff must be prepared to apply comprehensive solutions that engage and build a strong collective bond with students, parents, and community partners, and also know how their own interactions with and among students influence school safety and educational outcomes.
The National Institute of Justice created the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative (CSSI) to improve knowledge about the root causes of school violence, develop strategies to increase school safety, and rigorously evaluate innovative school safety strategies. In support of the CSSI, AIR—in partnership with Virginia Tech, The Wandersman Group, and a group of nationally recognized school safety experts—is conducting Research on Lowering Violence in Communities and Schools (ReSOLV), formerly known as the California School Safety Project. This longitudinal study will examine the association of school safety and student outcomes with school-based risk and protective factors and readiness to adopt a comprehensive school safety approach.
The study will be conducted in one urban, one suburban, and one rural California school district, and will inform research, policy, and practice by focusing on school safety in communities where crime and violence is greatest.
Findings will help schools and communities better understand the relationship between community, school, and individual capacities and the willingness to adopt a comprehensive school safety approach to address root causes of school violence. Results will inform schools’ planning, financing, and evaluation of current and future school safety prevention and intervention efforts.