Communtiy Outreach Through Police in schools - August 2003 by Mythri


									U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
Office for Victims of Crime

            AU G U S T 2 0 0 3

Community Outreach
                                                                                            Message From
through Police in Schools                                                                      the Director
                                              negative behavior patterns develop and            Community violence is widely recog-
     he Community Outreach through            are first identified. The program has been    nized as a major public health problem.

T    Police in Schools Program is a short-
     term, prevention-oriented, school-
based group intervention that brings
                                              successful because of its unique design
                                              that calls on police and mental health
                                              experts to work together to meet the
                                              needs of children in their community.
                                                                                            It affects all levels of society, and there
                                                                                            are no simple remedies. Children ex-
                                                                                            posed to violence on a regular basis are
                                                                                            potentially more vulnerable to a num-
together community police officers and                                                      ber of detrimental outcomes, including
child clinicians as group coleaders to pro-   Children get to know their community          poor school performance, psychological
vide weekly sessions for middle school        police officers better, develop an under-     disturbances, and later violent and crim-
students who are at risk of being exposed     standing of the impact of violence and        inal behaviors.
to violence in the community. The             trauma, and learn adaptive means of
                                                                                            Out of concern over the escalating vio-
Community Outreach through Police             dealing with the consequences of expo-
                                                                                            lent crime in the greater New Haven,
in Schools Program comprises eight 50-        sure to violence and trauma.                  Connecticut, area and its impact on
minute weekly sessions as well as pretest                                                   children, the Yale University Child
and posttest survey sessions. The total                                                     Study Center developed the Child
length of the intervention is 10 weeks.       Background                                    Development-Community Policing
                                                                                            (CD–CP) Program.The subject of this
                                                                                            bulletin, Community Outreach through
                                                       any urban areas have been affect-

Most experts agree that any successful
                                                                                            Police in Schools, is an intervention
violence intervention program must be                  ed by increased levels of commu-
                                                                                            implemented by this program.
collaborative. Such programs should also               nity and domestic violence. The
target youth early, before frequent expo-     Yale University Child Study Center’s          The CD–CP Program relies on collabo-
sure to violence leads them to adopt          Child Development-Community Policing          ration among school personnel, mental
                                                                                            health providers, and police to mitigate
negative and dysfunctional patterns of        (CD–CP) Program developed out of con-
                                                                                            children’s exposure to violence in the
behavior. The Community Outreach              cern about escalating violent crime in the    community.This bulletin will be of inter-
through Police in Schools Program is a        greater New Haven, Connecticut, area          est not only to school administrators,
collaborative intervention that targets       and across the country and the impact of      teachers, and school-based mental
youth before exposure to violence in their    exposure to violence and trauma on chil-      health professionals, but also to police
community seriously impacts their func-       dren’s development. The CD–CP Program         departments, particularly those practic-
tioning. The intervention’s collaborative     is a collaboration between the Yale Uni-      ing community policing.
approach commits school, police, and          versity Child Study Center and the New        John W. Gillis
mental health resources within the com-       Haven Department of Police Services that      Director
munity to provide services for children       aims, in part, to address the mental health
in middle school, a time when many            needs of children exposed to violence
OVC Bulletin

within the community. The CD–CP               better understand the way their feelings          cers participate in weekly supervision
Program is based on the premise that al-      affect their behavior, develop constructive       meetings with a clinician who oversees the
though exposure to violence and trauma        means of responding to violence and trau-         clinical aspects of the program.
may compromise children’s developmental       ma, and change their attitudes toward
potential, it may also provide a window of    police and how to seek help in their
opportunity for introducing a variety of      community.                                        Participants
interventions that can help mitigate the
impact of such trauma. The Community          During the weekly program sessions,                     he Community Outreach through
Outreach through Police in Schools Pro-
gram is an example of an intervention
implemented by the CD–CP collaboration
                                              schoolchildren establish real relationships
                                              with police officers. These interactions
                                              lead to changes in attitudes toward police
                                              and their role in the community. Chil-
                                                                                                T     Police in Schools Program is being
                                                                                                      implemented in middle schools
                                                                                                within communities in which children
that targets children who have been                                                             are especially vulnerable to being
directly or indirectly exposed to violence    dren’s feelings of safety and protection are      exposed to violence and trauma. Targeted
and trauma within their community.            enhanced as they become able to identify          schools are in areas identified as having
                                              and internalize the positive, prosocial           high rates of crime and community vio-
                                              attributes that the officers embody.              lence. The curriculum is designed to meet
Police-Mental Health                                                                            the developmental needs of middle school
Partnership                                   Police Officer
                                                                                                students, and any middle school student
                                                                                                living in a targeted area is eligible to par-
      he police-mental health partnership     Participation and                                 ticipate in the group. (The curriculum

T     melds law enforcement officers’ ex-
      pertise in community policing with
clinic-based mental health professionals’
                                                     articipating police officers are select-
                                                                                                may not be appropriate for younger stu-
                                                                                                dents.) Each identified school selects stu-
                                                                                                dents from fifth or sixth grade classes,
knowledge of the psychological and emo-
tional consequences that follow exposure
to violence. Police, school, and communi-
ty mental health professionals gain aware-
                                              P      ed by a police department supervisor
                                                     based on each officer’s availability
                                              and expressed interest in the Community
                                                                                                who are then randomly assigned to
                                                                                                groups. Ideally, all students in an identi-
                                                                                                fied grade rotate through the program. In
                                                                                                some cases, when resources do not allow
                                              Outreach through Police in Schools Pro-
ness of children’s perceived sources of                                                         for participation by all students in a grade,
                                              gram. The officers are usually community
danger and a deeper understanding of the                                                        the school principal or other school offi-
                                              officers who are local to the participating
issues facing children in the community.                                                        cials select the group participants. To
                                              schools and who demonstrate an interest
With this knowledge, community leaders                                                          participate, students must have the per-
                                              in working with children and families in
can implement changes in the communi-                                                           mission of their parents and possess the
                                              the community. As group coleaders, they
ty that address both children’s individual                                                      basic skills and ability to participate in a
                                              bring knowledge and expertise in the areas
concerns and the danger they face in                                                            group process. Students with severe be-
                                              of law enforcement and safety to the ses-
their neighborhood.                                                                             havioral or emotional problems may not
                                              sions and can act as liaisons to the chil-
                                                                                                be suited to participate in the group.
                                              dren’s neighborhood and community.
An integral part of the Community Out-        Community police officers who participate
reach through Police in Schools Program                                                         Because this is a school-based program
                                              have also completed the officer training          that occurs during the schoolday, the
is this police-mental health partnership.     component of the Child Development-
Police officers who work in the children’s                                                      program needs to be coordinated with
                                              Community Policing Program and are                school administration and faculty.
community are familiar with the condi-        familiar with basic concepts of child devel-
tions children face on a daily basis. By                                                        Arrangements must be made for students
                                              opment, violence, and trauma. Before they         to review any missed class material with
pairing a trained mental health profes-       join the sessions, police officers are also
sional with a community police officer                                                          school staff. Typically, the group is held
                                              instructed by clinical staff on the rudi-         during elective time or during class time
to act as group coleaders, the program        ments of group process and theory as well
provides a unique approach to violence                                                          for subject material that is relevant to the
                                              as the specific intervention intended by          group content. In New Haven, groups are
prevention. Through this collaborative        the Community Outreach through Police
intervention it is hoped that children will                                                     held as part of the schools’ social develop-
                                              in Schools Program. In addition, the offi-        ment curriculum and approved by the

                                                                                  COMMUNITY OUTREACH THROUGH POLICE IN SCHOOLS

school board at the beginning of the aca-       lowing completion of the school-based          stabbed themselves. Nearly half (47 per-
demic year.                                     group program.                                 cent) have seen a seriously wounded
                                                                                               person after a fight, and one-third (31
                                                Pretest and posttest data are collected        percent) have seen a shooting or attempt-
Process                                         from all students participating via an         ed shooting.
                                                adapted form of SAHA and the Attitudes
       articipation in the Community Out-       Toward Police Scale. This pretest/posttest     Test findings and anecdotal data support

P      reach through Police in Schools
       Program is voluntary, and alterna-
tive programming is offered to any student
                                                design reveals any changes that may occur
                                                in children’s functioning and attitudes
                                                toward police following completion of the
                                                program. To avoid contamination of the
                                                                                               the impression that youth in these neigh-
                                                                                               borhoods are highly concerned about vio-
                                                                                               lence in their community. In general,
                                                                                               more than half of these children reported
who does not wish to participate or whose
parents do not provide consent. Through-        results, pretests and posttests are adminis-   fears and worries related to violence expo-
out the school year, each group meets           tered by a research assistant who is not       sure. For example, 69 percent reported
weekly for 10 consecutive weeks: eight          one of the group coleaders.                    that they are afraid they might do some-
group sessions plus pretest and posttest ses-                                                  thing bad, 67 percent reported worrying
sions. The sessions follow a structured cur-                                                   that something bad will happen to them,
riculum that includes drawing, sharing          Preliminary                                    and 81 percent reported that they are
                                                                                               bothered by thoughts of death.
ideas, observation, learning, role playing,     Evaluation Results
and group activities. Participants receive
                                                                                               Past survey results indicate that the great-
ongoing feedback and the final meeting                  ngoing evaluation of the school-
includes a celebration and awarding of
certificates for completion of the program.
After the sessions end, general feedback is
provided to school personnel and parents.
                                                O       based intervention project has
                                                        been conducted since the pro-
                                                gram’s inception in 1998. Through the
                                                                                               est change following participation in the
                                                                                               Community Outreach through Police in
                                                                                               Schools Program can be found in students’
                                                                                               emotional and psychological functioning.
                                                pretest, the evaluation aims to document
                                                                                               After completing the group sessions, stu-
Students who are identified as needing          baseline levels of violence exposure,
                                                                                               dents reported being less nervous, less wor-
additional or ongoing services are referred     symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder
                                                                                               ried about what is going to happen to
to resources in the community.                  (PTSD), symptoms of other types of anxi-
                                                                                               them, less bothered by thoughts of death,
                                                ety and depression, and attitudes toward
                                                                                               and less worried at bedtime, and they also
                                                community police officers.
                                                                                               reported that their feelings are hurt less
Program Evaluation                                                                             easily. In general, the majority of students
                                                Preliminary results show both a serious
                                                                                               demonstrated positive changes in their
        espite the growing popularity of vio-   need for intervention in this population

D       lence prevention programs, there is
        a paucity of empirical evidence of
their effectiveness. Conducting school-
                                                and (when evaluated in combination
                                                with posttest results) some promising
                                                outcomes of the intervention. Levels of
                                                                                               overall emotional responses over time.
                                                                                               Therefore, the program seems most suc-
                                                                                               cessful in helping children discuss their
                                                                                               feelings and improve their overall level of
based research can be difficult due to          violence exposure and PTSD symptoma-
                                                                                               emotional functioning. Although past sur-
numerous challenges, including negotiat-        tology were high in the pretests and sup-
                                                                                               vey results indicated positive changes in
ing complex systems and controlling for         ported the assumption that children
                                                                                               attitudes toward police officers, current
confounding variables. The program has          participating in the groups were exposed
                                                                                               findings are more mixed. However, posi-
attempted to address the challenges of eval-    to high levels of community violence. For
                                                                                               tive changes are still evident when com-
uation by building on assessments widely        example, results indicate that 29 percent
                                                                                               paring results from pretest to posttest.
used in local public school systems, such as    of all New Haven students participating
                                                                                               For example, survey results indicate that,
the Social and Health Assessment Survey         in the groups have been threatened with
                                                                                               postparticipation, significantly fewer stu-
(SAHA). The SAHA protocol has been              serious harm, and 49 percent have seen
                                                                                               dents believed negative statements about
adapted to this research to examine expo-       someone else threatened with serious
                                                                                               police officers such as “police beat up on
sure to trauma, student adjustment, mal-        harm. Sixty-five percent have seen some-
                                                                                               people for no reason” or “police try to act
adaptive behaviors, and attitudes toward        one beaten or mugged, 31 percent have
                                                                                               like big shots.” Thus, the Community
safety and violence both prior to and fol-      seen someone being attacked or stabbed,
                                                                                               Outreach through Police in Schools inter-
                                                and 11 percent have been attacked or

OVC Bulletin

vention appears to not only improve chil-     other elements of the CD–CP Program at                  For copies of this bulletin and other OVC
dren’s ability to express and cope with the   the Yale University Child Study Center                  publications or information on additional
emotional consequences of exposure to         may also be obtained through the Office                 victim-related resources, please contact
violence, but also to improve their rela-     for Victims of Crime or the Office of
tionships with community police officers.     Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Preven-                OVC Resource Center
                                              tion at the U.S. Department of Justice.                 P.O. Box 6000
                                                                                                      Rockville, MD 20849–6000
Training and                                                                                          1–800–851–3420 or 301–519–5500

Technical Assistance                          For More Information                                    (TTY 1–877–712–9279)
                                                   or more information on the Com-

      he Community Outreach through
      Police in Schools Program can be
      replicated in communities across the
                                              F    munity Outreach through Police in
                                                   Schools Program, please contact
                                                                                                      Web site:

                                                                                                      Or order OVC publications online at
country. Ideally, this program would be       CD–CP Program
replicated as part of a broader communi-      Child Study Center                                      For information on training and techni-
tywide Child Development-Community            Yale University School of Medicine                      cal assistance available from OVC,
Policing Program initiative. This program     P.O. Box 207900                                         please contact
may not be ideally suited to all communi-     New Haven, CT 06520–7900
ties. However, the basic principles of the    1–877–496–2238                                          OVC Training and
program can be adapted to the needs and       Web site:                                   Technical Assistance Center
resources of a community. Interested com-                                                             10530 Rosehaven Street, Suite 400
munities may contact the CD–CP Pro-           Office for Victims of Crime                             Fairfax, VA 22030
gram that is part of the National Center      U.S. Department of Justice                              1–866–OVC–TTAC (1–866–682–8822)
for Children Exposed to Violence              810 Seventh Street NW., Eighth Floor                    (TTY 1–866–682–8880)
(, based at the Yale Uni-       Washington, DC 20531                                    Fax: 703–279–4673
versity Child Study Center, for more          202–307–5983                                            E-mail:
information or to request assistance with     Fax: 202–514–6383                                       Web site:
replication. Information about available      Web site:                           welcome.html
training and technical assistance and

                                                This document was prepared by Yale University Child Study Center, National Center for Children
                                                Exposed to Violence, under grant number 1997–MU–MU–K021, awarded by the Office of Juvenile
                                                Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.The
                                                opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this document are those of the
                                                author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of

                                                The Office for Victims of Crime is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also
                                                includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of
                                                Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

                                                                                                                                        NCJ 197038

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