The evaluation of this program has meaningful implications for prevention research because there exists both great need and very little research on addressing public spaces in schools. The need to address safety outside of classrooms has been affirmed by recent work in Colorado, which implemented systematic hot spot mapping in selected schools. The areas most consistently identified as unsafe by students were stairways, or hallways between classrooms, and bathrooms (Tuft, cited in Thomas, 2018). Further, school teachers and staff are often unprepared to address behavior problems (e.g., Stephan, Sugai, Lever, & Connors, 2015). Lack of adequate training can lead school staff to rely on exclusionary discipline practices (e.g., corporal punishment, suspensions, and expulsions) proven to be ineffective (Osher et al., 2010). Importantly, much of the research on the effectiveness of youth violence prevention focuses on individual characteristics, such as moral values, exposure to trauma, peer relationships, and family-related factors (Lipsey, Howell, Kelly, Chapman, & Carver, 2010). Little is known about the effectiveness of programs that address the school environment itself.
Three papers describing the findings from this trial will be presented in this symposium. The first paper provides an overview of the intervention including the initial training and ongoing support provided to schools. The second paper will describe the results of the implementation evaluation, which included both observations and interviews conducted across two years of program implementation. The third paper will present the impact of the Safe Public Spaces program on student and school outcomes including public space discipline incidents, suspensions, and student-reported safety adult support.