School Safety and High School Transition

Project Dates
  • 2015-2018

Research suggests the transition to high school is a critical event in the life course, with serious implications for mental health, school completion, and long-term economic well-being. This transition coincides with a peak in exposure to school and community violence.

Little is known about how perceptions of school safety impact the transition experience, how students respond to the threat of victimization, and the factors that protect youth from the negative consequences associated with high crime communities.

This project, led by Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice, in partnership with University of Michigan School of Public Health and Flint Community Schools (FCS), is a multi-method (survey, interview, police data) study of the sources and consequences of school violence and victimization, especially through the transition to high school.

This study will consist of two major data collection efforts: 1) a survey of 7th through 1Oth grade students across 10 FCS -which serves a primarily African American and poor population-that will identify the prevalence, sources, and correlates of student victimization, including the location and seriousness of violent events, explore the connections between school and community violence, and measure the degree to which students are exposed to school and community violence; and 2) a  qualitative study of 100 8th-9th grade students. The primary focus of the interviews will be to develop an in-depth understanding of how school safety impacts the transition experience, the genesis of school violence, including how community conflict impacts school safety, and what youth do to protect themselves from school-related victimization.

The study is guided by resiliency theory, and how personal characteristics and community resources protect youth from the consequences of school and community violence.

Our analysis of the data will integrate crime incident data from the Flint Police Department, including geocoded events and detailed offender/victim/incident characteristics as a source for triangulation of findings.

We will work with a community workgroup who will help translate the findings generated from mixed-methods analyses, and develop an action plan to help students successfully transition to high school.  Results and policy implications will be disseminated to practitioner, researcher, and public audiences through written, oral, and web-based forums. De-identified data will be archived at the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data


  • Flint Community Schools
  • University of Michigan School of Public Health
  • Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice