School Violence

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All forms of school violence—from playground bullying to school shootings—have an adverse effect on educational environments. RAND studies have evaluated the effectiveness of risk assessment and violence prevention programs, as well as counseling for students who have been traumatized by violence in schools.

  • A memorial site outside Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, after a 15-year-old allegedly killed four classmates and injured seven others on November 30, 2021, photo by Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP

    Essay

    How to Prevent, Prepare for, and Respond to Mass Attacks

    A new step-by-step guide can help communities prevent shootings and other mass attacks before they happen, and save lives when they do. It's written for a variety of public- and private-sector audiences—everyone from emergency responders and school officials to security personnel and community leaders.

    Aug 30, 2022

  • A teacher talks with students outside of the school building, photo by nimito/Adobe Stock

    Report

    Supporting Individual Willingness to Report School Safety Concerns

    What can states, districts, and schools do to encourage people—especially students—to report threats of school violence so that preventive action can be taken?

    Aug 25, 2022

Explore School Violence

  • Multiracial group of teenagers sitting on school steps looking at the camera, photo by Daniel de la Hoz/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Ways to Help Students Report Threats to Their School

    When students or others don't know how to report a threat or aren't willing to do so, important opportunities to protect students may be missed. Schools receive little guidance about how to implement an effective reporting program or how to build a robust reporting culture. A recent research effort helps to fill this gap, highlighting seven key implications for school safety planning.

    Sep 29, 2022

  • Painted stones are placed at a memorial outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, July 13, 2022, photo by Kaylee Greenlee Beal/Reuters

    Commentary

    A Toolkit for Avoiding Mass Shootings

    RAND has developed an online educational toolkit to provide practical strategies and guidance on deterring, mitigating, and responding to mass attacks. Research highlights three top ways to mitigate and/or respond to mass attacks right now: through proactive prevention, relentless follow-up, and diligent preparation and training.

    Jul 14, 2022

  • Law enforcement officers stand near the site of a shooting at a gun store in Metairie, Louisiana, February 20, 2021, photo by Catherine Koppel/Reuters

    Tool

    Mass Attacks Defense Toolkit

    RAND researchers created this tool to advance efforts to prevent and reduce intentional, interpersonal firearm violence and public mass attacks in the United States.

    May 31, 2022

  • Tool

    Tool

    Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) for American Indian Youth

    The Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) program helps students exposed to traumatic events who are experiencing emotional or behavioral problems. This tool is an adaptation of the CBITS program for American Indian youth.

    Dec 22, 2021

  • School hallway interior, photo by urfinguss/Getty Images

    Report

    Challenges in Implementing Physical Security Measures in K–12 Schools

    Creating safe and secure environments is essential to supporting effective teaching and learning in America's classrooms. What are the most common challenges to physical security planning in schools?

    Jun 3, 2021

  • Report

    Report

    A Systems Approach to Physical Security in K–12 Schools

    Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center researchers present a systems approach to school safety in which physical security elements integrate to provide benefits with minimal negative effects on schools' missions, operations, and climates.

    Jun 3, 2021

  • Security camera in a classroom

    Commentary

    How Can the U.S. Do a Better Job of Keeping Kids Safe at School?

    Many proposals to improve school safety promote the use of technology, such as metal detectors and video cameras. How effective are these devices? The evidence is mixed.

    Mar 26, 2018

  • Students and tourists rest in lawn chairs in Harvard Yard

    Commentary

    Here's How a National Database Could Help Colleges Fight Sexual Assault

    At a moment of heightened awareness around sexual violence, America's colleges and universities have an opportunity to lead by example, through a commitment to full transparency about campus sexual assaults and openness to learning from each other's failures and successes.

    Mar 2, 2018

  • Girl being bullied by classmates in school corridor

    Commentary

    The Ghost of Bullying

    The idea that bullying is experienced by only a few children and adolescents is false. Most cases are verbal, not physical, and victims tend to remain silent. Research has shown that bullying can have negative long-term effects on a person's life.

    May 31, 2017

  • Students in the hall

    Research Brief

    Can Technology Make Schools Safer?

    Concerns about violence have led many schools to seek out safety technologies such as metal detectors, anonymous “tip lines,” and video surveillance systems. How effective are these at helping schools prevent and respond to threats and acts of violence?

    Aug 22, 2016

  • Security camera in a lobby

    Report

    The Role of Technology in Improving School Safety

    School violence can damage both kids' future outcomes and the culture and performance of the school. Safety technologies are one of many approaches to prevent and respond to the problem. What role might they play?

    Apr 14, 2016

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    The Association Between Youth Violence Exposure and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Symptoms in a Sample of Fifth-Graders

    The purpose of the current study was to examine the association between violence exposures (no exposure, witness or victim only, and both witness and victim) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms.

    Nov 11, 2015

  • A young student sitting outside in a school corridor

    Commentary

    Rethinking Student Discipline and Zero Tolerance

    Restorative practices are an alternative to zero-tolerance school discipline policies. Rather than mandating prescribed punishments for specific misbehaviors, this more tailored approach aims to empower students.

    Oct 14, 2015

  • High school student and teacher using digital tablet

    Blog

    How Schools Can Help Students with Traumatic Stress

    Schools are in a unique position to recognize traumatic stress in children. But first, adults throughout the school system—teachers, staff, administrators, school resource officers, and parents—must be aware of the issue, know how to detect signs of trauma exposure, and create a supportive environment.

    Oct 2, 2014

  • High school students studying at desks in a classroom

    Journal Article

    Attending Successful Schools Can Reduce Risky Behavior in Adolescents

    Most successful schools demonstrate better retention and academic achievement. As a result, being admitted to or attending a successful school can reduce very risky health behaviors among low-income adolescents.

    Jul 30, 2014

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    School Intervention Related to School and Community Violence

    This article describes how schools can circumvent several key barriers to mental health service provision, outcomes that school interventions target, and the role of the family in school-based services.

    Mar 28, 2014

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Early Puberty, Negative Peer Influence, and Problem Behaviors in Adolescent Girls

    Early puberty and friends' deviance may increase the risk of problem behavior in young adolescent girls. Although many of these associations dissipate over time, early-maturing girls are at risk of persistently higher delinquency and stronger negative peer influences.

    Jan 1, 2014

  • President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 12, 2013

    Blog

    The State of the Union 2013

    The 2013 SOTU address will be remembered for its impassioned call for greater gun control just two months after Sandy Hook. But President Obama's second-term agenda can be characterized by its sheer breadth, reflecting the broad range of policy challenges facing the U.S. today.

    Feb 13, 2013