Program Background

The Safe Harbor program was developed in 1991 by Safe Horizon in New York City. The mission of Safe Horizon is to provide support, prevent violence, and promote justice for victims of crime and abuse, their families, and their communities. Prior to the Safe Harbor program, Safe Horizon had responded to the problem of school violence primarily by developing conflict resolution programs. Although these programs prevented peer conflicts from escalating into violence, Safe Horizon soon realized that this approach was not addressing the underlying causes of these conflicts and the impact of family and community violence.

The Safe Harbor program was developed to address the underlying causes of conflicts. The five core components of the Safe Harbor program are designed to help students, faculty, and families cope with the violence they struggle with in their lives—not only in school, but also at home and on the streets. Because violence happens in multiple contexts and has multiple causes, most violence prevention experts agree that prevention strategies must address several levels of intervention (Tolan and Guerra, 1996). Of these levels, the Safe Harbor program focuses on the following three:

Individual. Modify beliefs, attitudes, and norms to help young people develop behaviors that support nonviolence.

Interpersonal. Enhance relationships with peers and family to buffer youth from the effects of exposure to violence.

Social Context. Change aspects of the setting and climate that contribute to violent behavior (Tolan and Guerra, 1996).

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Safe Harbor: A School-Based Victim Assistance/Violence Prevention Program
January 2003