Preventing School Violence

June 2011

School violence poses a significant threat to the health, achievement, and well-being of students in the United States. Although the most highly publicized incidents involve serious, and sometimes lethal, physical violence, less serious forms of physical aggression and psychological violence (including harassment, bullying, and relational aggression) present far more prevalent and persistent problems. This two-day workshop both synthesized and generated knowledge about preventing school violence through the design of school practices, programs, policies, and environments. It focused on strategies for prevention/intervention, drawing from and building on knowledge about causes and contributing factors. While acknowledging the roles of multiple contexts, it centered on schools as platforms for these efforts. With leadership from faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the workshop convened thought leaders with diverse perspectives and from a diverse body of academic and applied disciplines who work to understand and address school violence. These included Developmental and Clinical Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, Education, Social and Emotional Learning, Bullying Prevention, Juvenile Justice, School Counseling, Environmental Design, Public Health, and Mental Health. Representatives from these fields have historically had few opportunities for dialogue, and this workshop provided a much-needed opportunity to exchange ideas and establish a common agenda for moving forward. The HGSE envisioned this workshop as a springboard toward a more concerted effort to support the prevention of school violence.