Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $2,000,000)
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health Emergency Management and Resilience Program (EMRP) is proposing to partner with University of Minnesota Rochester (UMR) to develop a robust STOP School Violence Grant Program at Woodland District 50 in northern Illinois and partnering with Cradle 2 Career at the Rochester City School (RPS) District in southeastern Minnesota serving K-8 and K-12 students, respectively. The purpose of the project is to evaluate current school safety strategies and develop pilot programs which help develop a more interconnected and robust school safety strategy. To complete this task, we will include the following:
1) Working with Woodland and RPS multidisciplinary behavioral threat assessment intervention teams will complete an evaluation of a school’s violence prevention and response posture will measured using a pre- and post-intervention surveys and focus groups. UIC and UMR research faculty will track using both qualitative and quantitative data. Personally identifiable information will be separated from data to ensure privacy during for a robust analysis outlining both inferential and predictive methods to determine significance of the assessment and intervention.
2) Develop specialized training for law enforcement who work in schools and/or with school-age populations such as school resource officers. Such training should include the basics of mental health awareness, conflict resolution, mediation, problem solving, mentoring principles, crisis intervention, youth development, implications of trauma, basic classroom instruction and expectations, integrated response training with mental health and school psychologists, family and parent engagement, and appropriate use of information.
3) Educate school staff and students on violence prevention, recognizing warning signs which may precede violence, and how to intervene and respond to individuals who exhibit such signs. To improve school climate while preventing school violence, initiatives which take mental health, social-emotional learning, anti-bullying, suicide prevention, and/or de-escalation training.
4) Developing and operating technology solution by implementing an anonymous reporting mobile app system for threats of school violence with hyper-targeted, secure, and private messages to different populations (students, parents, etc.) based upon physical location, user category, or both. This accurate identification of danger (without resort to discriminatory stereotypes or violating privacy) and improve school safety. A focus group of students will pilot the app to connect to counselors or other support personnel ranging from individual mental health concerns, bullying etc.
This data will link back to school systems (e.g. threat assessment team etc.). After programs are implemented, findings will be recorded, and sustainability strategy implemented.