Safe, Supportive Conditions for Learning: Making Connections for Student Success-Selected Research

Article excerpt

BARRIERS TO SAFE, SUPPORTIVE CONDITIONS FOR LEARNING

Violent Crime

* Students age 12-18 years were victims of 629,800 nonfatal, violent crimes at school in 2008.1

* In 2009, 11% of students in grades 9-12 reported they had been in a physical fight on school property at least one time during the previous 12 months.2

* Witnessing or experiencing school violence diminishes student well-being and motivation, and leads to increased risk of aggression, school avoidance, and dislike of school. Truancy and decreased school engagement resulting from school violence are largely attributed to students feeling unsafe.3

Bullying

* In 2007, 10% of students age 12-18 years reported that someone at school had used hate-related words against them, and 35% had seen hate-related graffiti at school.4

* About 28% of students age 12-18 years reported they were bullied at school in the 2008-09 school year, and about 6% reported they were cyberbullied anywhere.5

* In a 2009 survey, 85% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students reported being verbally harassed, 40% reported being physically harassed, and 19% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.6

* A study of 7,000 ninth-grade students and nearly 3,000 teachers revealed that the bullying climate of schools can negatively influence achievement on standardized tests.7

Sexual Assault and Harassment

* Among sexually active adolescent girls in grades 9-12, more than 31% report having experienced physical or sexual violence from dating partners.8

* In a nationally representative survey of students in grades 7-12, 48% reported that they had experienced some form of sexual harassment in the 2010-11 school year.9

* Sexual harassment among middle and high school students is associated with decreased mental health, physical health, self-esteem, and increased substance use and trauma symptoms.10

* School climate has emerged as a major variable in mitigating the negative effects of sexual harassment among adolescent students.11

Student Perceptions of School Safety

* In 2007, 5.5% of high school students reported that they missed at least one day of school in the previous month because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to or from school.12

* More than 61% of students reported in 2009 that they felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation and nearly 40% felt unsafe because of their gender expression.13

* Nearly 11% of students age 12-18 years who were bullied at school during the 2008-09 school year reported being afraid that someone would attack or harm them at school or on the way to or from school, compared to less than 2% of students who were not bullied.14

ASPECTS OF SAFE, SUPPORTIVE CONDITIONS FOR LEARNING: PROGRAMS, PERSONNEL, PARTNERSHIPS, AND POSITIVE OUTCOMES

Social and Emotional Development

* A meta-analysis of 153 studies involving more than 270,000 K-12 students documented that school-based social-emotional development programs yield significant positive effects on students' social-emotional competencies, academic performance on achievement tests and grades, and attitudes toward school, while reducing conduct and internalizing problems.15

* Students who participate in school-based social and emotional learning programs show significant improvement in social and emotional skills, caring attitudes, and positive social behaviors, and a decline in disruptive behavior and emotional distress.16

* Interventions that strengthen students' social, emotional, and decision-making skills also positively impact their academic achievement, both in terms of higher standardized test scores and better grades.17

School Climate and Bonding to School

* Longitudinal research has demonstrated that interventions that promote students' bonding to school contribute to positive outcomes in terms of academic performance and social competence, while reducing tobacco, alcohol, and drug use; criminal involvement; gang membership; and school dropout. …