A photo of a stop sign that reads stop the violence

U of M partners with Sandy Hook Promise Foundation and schools to evaluate violence prevention programs

Joe Alberts Blog Posts, Safe & Healthy Futures Leave a Comment

Originally posted on our sister center’s website, Prevention Research Center of Michigan (PRC-MI)

Today marks 6 years since the school shooting that occured at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Since then, family members whose loved ones were killed that day have been working through advocacy and education to prevent these school violence incidents from ever happening again, through the The Sandy Hook Promise Foundation (SHP). There have been 23 school shootings  and 96 school gun incidents  this year alone. This is preventable.

With a mission to honor all victims of gun violence, the foundation has developed and disseminated a suite of violence prevention programs, Know the Signs, with the goal of protecting students and preventing loss of life. Know the Signs includes two programs: Say Something (SS) and Start with Hello (SWH). Say Something teaches youth to identify concerning behaviors among their peers (e.g., suicidality, violence, mental health concerns) and report them to a trusted adult. Start with Hello teaches youth to be more socially inclusive with their peers. In addition, the foundation recently developed an anonymous reporting system, Say Something ARS,  to provide a way to report warning signs.

In 2015, we began partnering with the Foundation to build an evidence base for these programs. Led by Drs. Justin Heinze, Hsing-Fang Hsieh and Andria Eisman, our research studies are evaluating SHP’s programs and their effects on individual-level outcomes like aggressive behavior and bullying victimization and school-level outcomes like culture and climate.

Our initial study in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), found that compared to students who did not receive the trainings, youth that participated in the training reported:

  • More willingness to report warning signs (both SS and SWH attendees)
  • Higher confidence in ability to report warning signs (both SS and SWH attendees)
  • Better relationship with trusted adults (both SS and SWH attendees)

For program attendees, we also found significant improvement in the following outcomes:

  • Perceptions of school safety (both SS and SWH attendees)
  • Positive attitude toward schools (SS attendees)
  • Less aggressive behaviors (SS attendees)

Our research team is now following up on these findings with three studies around the country to learn more about the efficacy of these programs and how best to implement them.

Miami

Funded by the National Institutes of Justice, this longitudinal study will evaluate the effectiveness of the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation’s Say Something Anonymous Reporting System (SS-ARS) in Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS). The anonymous reporting system is available as an application on mobile phones, a website, and a phone line and allows students, teachers, and other staff to submit secure and anonymous safety concerns. All the middle schools in MDCPS have been invited to participate and half of them will be randomly assigned to receive the Say Something presentation and SS-ARS in Winter 2019 (intervention group) and the other half of the schools will receive the usual school safety practices (control group).

Los Angeles

We are conducting a two-year evaluation of Say Something and Start with Hello in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). All the middle schools in LAUSD have been invited to participate in this study and we except our final sample to include approximately 25 schools. Half of the middle schools will randomly be assigned to receive the Know the Signs program in Winter 2019 (treatment group) and the other half of the middle schools will receive the usual school safety practices (control group).

Boston

We are also conducting a one-year study in 8 middle schools in Boston Public Schools (BPS) to evaluate the effectiveness of the online version of Say Something compared to the traditional in-person presentation of Say Something. The online platform allows for students to be trained via an interactive digital learning experience. Four schools will be randomly assigned to receive the online Say Something program. The remaining four schools will serve as the comparison group and receive the in-person training.

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