Evaluations of School-Based Violence Prevention Programs
As youth violence continues to rise in the United States, even when adult crime rates are falling, the search for effective youth violence prevention strategies becomes more urgent. Because of near-universal school attendance by American children (until some time in high school), schools are a common site for preventive interventions, including strategies to prevent youth violence. But despite the growing need for youth violence prevention and the logic and attractiveness of using schools as prevention sites, the literature on empirical evaluations of school-based violence prevention initiatives is scattered and thin. The primary purpose of this chapter is to begin to compile the scant existing systematic literature on violence prevention programs in schools. A second purpose is to provide a developmental and contextual framework within which to understand current school-based violence prevention efforts.
Finally, a third purpose of this chapter is to briefly raise two sets of issues based on the description and analysis of school-based youth violence prevention initiatives that, in our opinion, are critical to our nation's progress in preventing youth violence. They are: (1) how to begin to move from violence prevention programs to violence prevention policies, and (2) how to develop a prevention science for school violence adequate to the task of guiding prevention policy.