School Safety and Violence Prevention
The program provides candidates with opportunities and experiences to understand ways in which school environments can enhance the safety and well being of all pupils. The program provides candidates with the knowledge and models of systematic school safety planning that include comprehensive school climate and crisis response plans addressing elements of prevention, intervention, and treatment. The program provides candidates with opportunities and experiences to demonstrate knowledge and skills to assist in the development and implementation of a comprehensive program to reduce the incidence of school site violence. The program provides candidates with knowledge and skills that address the needs of witnesses, victims and perpetrators of violence as they relate to improved behavior and enhanced teaching and learning.
Candidates demonstrate knowledge and are familiar with models of systematic school safety planning. They also demonstrate understanding of ways in which the school environment influences safety and well- being for all pupils. Knowledge and skills are demonstrated in program planning to reduce school violence and intervention with those involved with incidences of school violence. Demonstration that each content area has been satisfactorily learned and applied is evidence by a passing grade in the relevant courses, an overall grade point average of 3.0 or higher, and a grade of “Credit” for the field practicum. The courses that address each of the specific content areas are listed and discussed below.
Understand ways in which school environments influence safety and well-being of all pupils
PPS candidates develop foundation knowledge of the influence of larger organizational contexts on human behavior through three courses: S Wrk 212: Human Behavior in the Social Environment: A Multi Systems Approach; S Wrk 220 and S Wrk 221, Foundations for Social Work Practice I and II. For example, see S Wrk 220 content on large systems during Week7.
Examination of organizational factors such as the size and diversity of the population, leadership style and community support provides a background for understanding the influence of the school environment and its climate. S Wrk 274, Advanced Social Work Practice in Schools I, provides specific content on the schools as a context for social work practice. School climate and school violence are explicitly addressed in assigned readings, lecture and class discussion. See course content on School Climate: Violence inSchools. Candidates develop a solid understanding of the school environment through content in areas such as the social organization of schools, assessing school dynamics, classroom management, peer mediation and the legal parameters of public education such as pupil rights. This knowledge is applied through concurrent enrollment in the field practicum in the schools, S Wrk 282/283. PPS candidates complete 600 hours of supervised social work practice which includes assignments that demonstrate understanding of the influence of the school environment and interventions which can enhance both safety and well being for all pupils.
Knowledge and models of systematic school safety planning
Candidates utilize the knowledge base described above regarding the school environment to inform the process of systematic school safety planning. S Wrk 246, Social Work Practice with Formal Organizations, provides advanced practice content on the provision of social work services at the organizational level. Content applied to school safety planning includes decision-making, personnel and staffing, planning, communication, evaluation and assessment. For example, see the course assignment on developing an Organizational Plan. In the second year of the MSW and PPS program, candidates concurrently enroll in the School Social Work/CWA courses (S Wrk 274 and S Wrk 275) and the field practicum in the schools (S Wrk 282/283). S Wrk 274 includes content on models of systematic school safety planning. Candidates are also exposed to safety planning during the PPS internship in the schools. For example, see the PPS learning agreement addendum, competency #9, which includes assignments addressing pupil safety and violence and the ability to participate in planning.Opportunities for discussion of different school safety models and implementation processes occur in seminar discussions in S Wrk 274 and S Wrk 275. Candidates demonstrate understanding of the influence of the school environment, community context and substance use on school safety and apply this understanding in discussions regarding the development of systematic school safety plans.
Knowledge and skills in program planning to reduce school violence
PPS candidates develop a broad foundation of knowledge regarding violence and aggression which prepares them to effectively plan and implement programs to reduce school violence. S Wrk 212, Human Behavior in the Social Environment: A Multi Systems Approach, provides the theoretical foundation for individual development across the lifespan. Factors such as exposure to violence and theories of violence and aggression are addressed in terms of the reciprocal influence on pupil development and the family, school, community and social contexts in which exposure to violence occurs. S Wrk 213, Diversity and Oppression, adds further to this understanding by examining the ethnic and cultural factors that influence individual development as well as the experience and impact of violence. For example, see the course outline and content on Prejudice, Discrimination and Violence.
Both courses present exposure to violence as a significant risk factor in the development of children and adolescents and consider possible implications of such exposure: poor academic performance; depression, bullying behavior, gang activity, etc.
S Wrk 274, Advanced Social Work Practice in Schools I, provides more in-depth knowledge regarding school violence. Candidates are assigned numerous readings which present the most current research on school violence, victimization and perpetration. See assigned readings for S Wrk 274, Week6:These readings are discussed in the seminar with specific practice examples from the field practicum in schools to facilitate integration of theory and practice. Policy areas which have implications for school safety and school violence are also thoroughly reviewed in S Wrk 274. These policy areas include suspension and expulsion, pupil rights, special education and sexual harassment.
This in-depth knowledge of school violence, in combination with advanced practice courses with content on assessment, prepares PPS candidates to identify those pupils at risk of violence, victimization or perpetration. S Wrk 224, Advanced Social Work Practice with Individuals, provides a comprehensive review of multi dimensional assessment. Thus, candidates develop a broad range of knowledge about factors that contribute to school violence which can be applied to program planning to reduce violence.
The field practicum in the schools, S Wrk 282/283, provides the opportunity for candidates to demonstrate knowledge and skill in program planning. For example, see the PPS learning agreement addendum, competency #9, which includes assignments addressing pupil safety and violence and the ability toparticipate in planning.All PPS candidates complete a wide variety of small and large system level learning assignments ranging from individual counseling to staff development to community organization. At the small system level, candidates demonstrate the ability to effectively assess individual pupils who are at risk of violence and to develop and implement intervention plans to address problems such as low self-esteem, suicidal ideation, substance abuse and gang involvement. At the mezzo level, there are ample opportunities to apply knowledge of issues such as bullying, sexual harassment and gang activity to classroom and school level interventions to promote a safe school environment. For example, a PPS candidate may be involved in weekly class presentations to a class that has demonstrated significant problems with bullying and inter-group conflict. The presentations are a means of group intervention to resolve differences and promote positive relationships. Similarly, a candidate may be involved in the implementation of a school-wide peer mediation program. At the larger system level, the candidate may provide training to staff, parents, and administrators on pupil rights or may organize a community forum on violence in the neighborhood. All field practicum learning assignments are carried out with supervision from the MSW/PPS field instructor and oversight from the faculty liaison to ensure application and integration of course context.
Knowledge and skills for intervention with witnesses, victims and perpetrators of violence
The advanced concentration in multi-systems practice provides all PPS candidates with a broad repertoire of intervention skills for application with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. The knowledge and skills for crisis intervention and management, while applicable at all levels, are primarily presented in S Wrk 224; Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice with Individuals. Students learn the basic components of assessment and disposition in crisis situations, including the legal and ethical issues involved in such intervention. S Wrk 274 addresses school violence and includes intervention with witnesses, victims and perpetrators in Week6:. S Wrk 275, Advanced Social Work Practice in Schools II, provides specific content on crisis intervention in the schools. Current research and practice approaches for effective response to school crises are presented with seminar discussion of the application to field practicum in the schools (S Wrk 282/283). Central to the discussion is the need to conduct multi dimensional assessments, prioritize needs, provide support, linkage to resources, and follow-up at all systems levels.
Practice skills for intervention with pupils, families and school staff in the aftermath of school violence are drawn from S Wrk 224, S Wrk 227, and S Wrk 225. For example, see the S Wrk 224 syllabus which includes addressing crisis intervention through a class exercise, Practice Skill. Individual, family and group level support can be provided to address trauma, grief and loss issues that result from acts of violence. While most PPS candidates will not experience major traumatic events during their school internship, all will deal with school violence, crisis intervention and grief and loss issues.
Finally, candidates also develop skills for effectively managing conflict which can be both a precursor and an outcome of violence. All of the advanced concentration practice courses, S Wrk 224, 225, 227, 246 and 247, address the use of negotiation and mediation skills at their respective system level. One example can be found in the following reading assignment from S Wrk 225, Advanced Practice with Groups: Toseland & Rivas (2009) Ch. 9 Conflict Resolution
S Wrk 274 and 275, Advanced Social Work Practice in Schools I and II, provide specific content on teacher consultation, parent involvement, and collaboration as they pertain to the school setting. Models of conflict resolution and examples of school-wide programs for conflict management are presented. The field practicum in the schools, S Wrk 282/283, provides the opportunity for candidates to apply this knowledge to practice. All candidates work with pupils, teachers, parents and other school staff and have opportunities to help school staff communicate effectively with angry parents, pupils and other staff.