Baylor University study: ‘Violence Free Zone’ program can be effective

25 Mar

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) collects statistics about school violence. According to School Violence: Data & Statistics, the CDC reports:

The first step in preventing school violence is to understand the extent and nature of the problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Justice gather and analyze data from a variety of sources to gain a more complete understanding of school violence.
According to the CDC’s School Associated Violent Death Study, between 1% and 2% of all homicides among school-age children happen on school grounds or on the way to and from school or during a school sponsored event. So the vast majority of students will never experience lethal violence at school.1
Fact Sheets
• Understanding School Violence Fact Sheet[PDF 254 KB]
This fact sheet provides an overview of school violence. http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/school_violence_fact_sheet-a.pdf
• Behaviors that Contribute to Violence on School Property[PDF 92k]
This fact sheet illustrates the trends in violence-related behaviors among youth as assessed by CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS). YRBSS monitors health risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among young people in the United States, including violence. http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/yrbs/pdf/us_violenceschool_trend_yrbs.pdf
• Understanding Youth Violence [PDF 313KB]
This fact sheet provides an overview of youth violence.
• Youth Violence: Facts at a Glance[PDF 128KB]
This fact sheet provides up-to-date data and statistics on youth violence…. http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/yv-datasheet-a.pdf http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/schoolviolence/data_stats.html

A Baylor University study examined an intervention strategy which might be effective in reducing school violence.

Science Daily reports in ‘Violence-free’ zones improve behavior, performance in middle, high school students:

A youth violence-reduction mentoring program for trouble-plagued schools in urban centers has contributed to improved student behavior and performance at high-risk middle and high schools in Wisconsin and Virginia, according to a new Baylor University case study.

The “Violence-Free Zone” is the national model of mentoring students in areas with high levels of crime and violence. The mentoring program is designed to address behaviors that result in truancies, suspensions, violent incidents, involvement in drugs and gangs and poor academic performance in public middle and high schools.

Four evaluations of VFZ programs conducted between 2007 and 2013 show positive impact, including a unique return-on-investment (ROI) analysis of a VFZ high school in Milwaukee, according to study leaders Byron Johnson, Ph.D., director of the Program on Prosocial Behavior in Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, and William Wubbenhorst, non-resident fellow at Baylor and scholar in faith-based and community initiatives.

The case study evaluates improvements at two VFZ high schools in Richmond, as well as the impact of the Milwaukee VFZ program on youths mentored by adults who work full time in the schools as hall and cafeteria monitors and role models. They work closely with safety officers, teachers and counselors.
Among the key findings:

1. A four-year study (academic years 2007 to 2010) of the VFZ Program in Milwaukee’s School for Career and Technical Education showed a: • 44 percent reduction in the average number of behavioral incidents per VFZ student per month • 79 percent reduction in average number of suspension days per VFZ student per month • 23 percent reduction in truancy incidents per VFZ student per month • 9.3 percent increase in GPA per VFZ student • 24 percent higher rate of graduation from high school than non-VFZ students • 8 percent higher college enrollment rate (as compared to the Wisconsin state level) • 64 percent increase in the number of students reporting a more positive school climate (as compared to the year prior to the VFZ program start)

2. A Return-On Investment Analysis of the Milwaukee school’s program showed an estimated lifetime savings of $8.32 for every $1 invested in the VFZ program, based on reduced administrative costs from fewer suspensions; reduced police costs from service calls; reduced juvenile detention costs; lower truancy rates; savings from reduced number of auto thefts within 1,000 feet of the school; savings from reductions of such high-risk behaviors as drinking, violence against intimate partners or violence against oneself; and projected increases in lifetime earning associated with higher high school graduation and college enrollment rates.

3. A four-year study (from academic years 2009-2012) of overall school-level trends of the VFZ program in Richmond showed a: • 44 percent reduction in the average number of suspensions per student • 27 percent reduction in the average number of suspension days per student • 18 percent increase in the average grade point average

4. A one-year study (academic year 2013-14) of VFZ students in three middle schools and eight high schools in Milwaukee showed a: • 7 percent decrease in the average number of non-violent incidents per VFZ student per month • 31 percent decrease in the average number of violent incidents per VFZ student per month.
The Milwaukee Violence-Free Zone program was created and is directed by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Neighborhood Enterprise and implemented in Milwaukee schools by CNE’s community partners, Running Rebels Community Organization and the Milwaukee Christian Center. The Richmond program was operated in partnership with the Richmond Outreach Church.

“The VFZ initiative not only is measurably effective in reducing violence, it is cost-effective,” said CNE President Robert L. Woodson. “It produces saving to the community by avoiding court and incarceration costs and by promoting attendance and academic achievement. It makes it possible for teachers to teach and students to learn.” For more information about the Multi-State Mentoring Research study, visit http://www.cneonline.org/
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150323111642.htm

Here is an excerpt describing the Violence Free Zone concept:

Reducing Youth Violence: The Violence-Free Zone Violence-Free Zone Initiative:
A Proven Model for Stopping Violence in the Schools and Creating Peace in the Community
The Violence-Free Zone is the national model of a youth violence reduction and high-risk- student mentoring program created by the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. Designed to operate in the most trouble-plagued schools in urban centers with high levels of crime and violence, the VFZ has produced measurable decreases in violent and non-violent incidents and suspensions in more than 30 schools across the country. The principles developed in the Violence-Free Zone model have also proved applicable to suburban and rural communities.
Three studies by evaluators from Baylor University reported that the VFZ had measurable impact in improved safety, reduction in suspensions and truancies, and increased academic performance. Educators and law enforcement officers from sites around the country have praised the VFZ for changing the culture of previously violent schools and reducing crimes in surrounding neighborhoods.
How It Works
The goal of the Violence-Free Zone initiative is to reduce violence and disruptions in the schools and prepare students for learning. The Center provides overall management and direction to the Violence-Free Zone initiative sites, and selects established youth-serving organizations to be CNE’s community partners and implement the VFZ program in the schools. These organizations have the goal of stopping violence in their neighborhoods and have demonstrated that they have the trust and confidence of young people. The Center provides training in the Violence-Free Zone national model as well as technical assistance, administrative and financial oversight, and linkages to sources of support.
Central to the program are the Youth Advisors, mature young adults who are from the same neighborhoods as the students in the schools they serve. The Youth Advisors command respect because they have faced and overcome the same challenges as the students. Carefully screened, hired, and managed by the local community-partner organization, the Youth Advisors work in the schools as hall monitors, mediators, and character coaches, and they mentor the high risk students that often are responsible for disruptions…. http://www.cneonline.org/reducing-youth-violence-the-violence-free-zone/

Citation:

Violence-free’ zones improve behavior, performance in middle, high school students

Date: March 23, 2015

Source: Baylor University

Summary:
A youth violence-reduction mentoring program for trouble-plagued schools in urban centers has contributed to improved student behavior and performance at high-risk middle and high schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Richmond, Virginia, according to findings of a new case study.

Here is the press release from Baylor University:

‘Violence-Free’ Zones Improve Behavior and Performance in Middle and High School Students, Baylor University Study Finds
March 20, 2015
WACO, Texas (March 23, 2015) — A youth violence-reduction mentoring program for trouble-plagued schools in urban centers has contributed to improved student behavior and performance at high-risk middle and high schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Richmond, Virginia, according to findings of a new Baylor University case study.
The “Violence-Free Zone” (VFZ) is the national model of mentoring students in areas with high levels of crime and violence. The VFZ mentoring program is designed to address behaviors that result in truancies, suspensions, violent incidents, involvement in drugs and gangs and poor academic performance in public middle and high schools.
Four evaluations of VFZ programs conducted between 2007 and 2013 show positive impact, including a unique return-on-investment (ROI) analysis of a VFZ high school in Milwaukee, according to study leaders Byron Johnson, Ph.D., director of the Program on Prosocial Behavior in Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, and William Wubbenhorst, non-resident fellow at Baylor, scholar in faith-based and community initiatives and co-president of Social Capital Valuations, LLC.
The case study also includes an evaluation of school-level improvements at two VFZ high schools in Richmond, as well as the impact of the Milwaukee VFZ program specifically on youths directly receiving mentoring services from the VFZ “Youth Advisers” — adults who work full time in the schools as hall and cafeteria monitors, role models and mentors. They work closely with school safety officers, teachers and counselors to provide a support system for students.
Among the key findings:
1. A four-year study (academic years 2007 to 2010) of the VFZ Program in Milwaukee’s School for Career and Technical Education showed a:
44 percent reduction in the average number of behavioral incidents per VFZ student per month
79 percent reduction in average number of suspension days per VFZ student per month
23 percent reduction in truancy incidents per VFZ student per month
9.3 percent increase in GPA per VFZ student
24 percent higher rate of graduation from high school than non-VFZ students
8 percent higher college enrollment rate (as compared to the Wisconsin state level)
64 percent increase in the number of students reporting a more positive school climate (as compared to the year prior to the VFZ program start)
2. A Return-On Investment Analysis of the Milwaukee school’s program showed an estimated lifetime savings of $8.32 for every $1 invested in the VFZ program, based on reduced administrative costs from fewer suspensions; reduced police costs from service calls; reduced juvenile detention costs; lower truancy rates; savings from reduced number of auto thefts within 1,000 feet of the school; savings from reductions of such high-risk behaviors as drinking, violence against intimate partners or violence against oneself; and projected increases in lifetime earning associated with higher high school graduation and college enrollment rates.
3. A four-year study (from academic years 2009-2012) of overall school-level trends of the VFZ program in Richmond showed a:
44 percent reduction in the average number of suspensions per student
27 percent reduction in the average number of suspension days per student
18 percent increase in the average grade point average
4. A one-year study (academic year 2013-14) of VFZ students in three middle schools and eight high schools in Milwaukee showed a:
7 percent decrease in the average number of non-violent incidents per VFZ student per month
31 percent decrease in the average number of violent incidents per VFZ student per month
The Milwaukee Violence-Free Zone program was created and is directed by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Neighborhood Enterprise (CNE) and implemented in Milwaukee schools by CNE’s community partners, Running Rebels Community Organization and the Milwaukee Christian Center. The Richmond program was operated in partnership with the Richmond Outreach Church.
“The VFZ initiative not only is measurably effective in reducing violence, it is cost-effective,” said CNE President Robert L. Woodson. “It produces saving to the community by avoiding court and incarceration costs and by promoting attendance and academic achievement. It makes it possible for teachers to teach and students to learn.”
For more information about the Multi-State Mentoring Research study, visit the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise’s website at http://www.cneonline.org
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.
ABOUT THE INSTITUTE FOR STUDIES OF RELIGION
Launched in August 2004, the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR) exists to initiate, support and conduct research on religion, involving scholars and projects spanning the intellectual spectrum: history, psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, political science, epidemiology, theology and religious studies. The institute’s mandate extends to all religions, everywhere, and throughout history, and embraces the study of religious effects on prosocial behavior, family life, population health, economic development and social conflict. While always striving for appropriate scientific objectivity, ISR scholars treat religion with the respect that sacred matters require and deserve.
School violence is a complex set of issues and there is no one solution. The school violence issue mirrors the issue of violence in the larger society. Trying to decrease violence requires a long-term and sustained focus from parents, schools, law enforcement, and social service agencies.

Resources:

A Dozen Things Students Can Do to Stop School Violence                                                  http://www.sacsheriff.com/crime_prevention/documents/school_safety_04.cfm

A Dozen Things. Teachers Can Do To Stop School Violence.                                                        http://www.ncpc.org/cms-upload/ncpc/File/teacher12.pdf

Preventing School Violence: A Practical Guide                                                                          http://www.indiana.edu/~safeschl/psv.pdf

Related:

Violence against teachers is becoming a bigger issue                                                                        https://drwilda.com/2013/11/29/violence-against-teachers-is-becoming-a-bigger-issue/

Hazing remains a part of school culture                                                                                            https://drwilda.com/2013/10/09/hazing-remains-a-part-of-school-culture/

FEMA issues Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans  https://drwilda.com/2013/07/08/fema-issues-guide-for-developing-high-quality-school-emergency-operations-plans/

Study: 1 in 3 teens are victims of dating violence                                                                           https://drwilda.com/2013/08/05/study-1-in-3-teens-are-victims-of-dating-violence/

Pediatrics article: Sexual abuse prevalent in teen population                                                        https://drwilda.com/2013/10/10/pediatrics-article-sexual-abuse-prevalent-in-teen-population/

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