Program Evaluation

The East New York United for Safety Report, 1995–1998

An evaluation of the first Safe Harbor programs conducted by the New York University School of Social Work and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed extensive evidence of the programs’ accomplishments. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected over a 4-year period and significant findings are listed below:

  • Students demonstrated improvement in using conflict resolution strategies, showed increased positive social control, and were more strongly opposed to gang violence.

  • Students reported that they incorporated Safe Harbor’s ground rules regarding respectful treatment of others into their relationships outside the program.

  • Survey results showed that with intensive program participation students benefited in five domains: values about violence, preferred conflict resolution strategies, social control strategies, attitudes toward gangs, and violent behavior (particularly in the community).

  • The Safe Harbor program proved most effective in changing student attitudes about violence when students participated in several components of the program, including learning from the violence prevention/victim assistance curriculum, participating in activities within the Safe Harbor room, and/or addressing personal issues in individual counseling.

  • The evaluation supported the use of a “victim assistance” model to effectively prevent violence among young people.

Safe Harbor Replication Program Evaluation Results, 1999

Safe Horizon also conducted an evaluation of two pilot Safe Harbor Replication sites (Albert E. Meyzeek Middle School in Louisville, Kentucky and Long Beach Preparatory Academy in Long Beach, California) to determine what benefits, if any, children gained from participating in the Safe Harbor program. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected over a 6-month period, and significant findings followed:

  • The more a student had been exposed to violence in the past, the more he or she showed increased empathy for others, was less accepting of gangs, and was more likely to resolve conflicts nonviolently.

  • Students developed greater self-confidence in their ability to control anger and resolve conflicts nonviolently.

  • There was a decrease in students’ fighting, anger, and bullying behaviors.

  • Students thought the program “made learning fun.”

  • Students found that both the physical and psychological safety provided by Safe Harbor were critical.

  • Students reported that Safe Harbor provided them with productive activities, helped them solve problems, attenuated the presence of gangs in school, provided a safe space to discuss important issues, reduced the number of fights in school, and made the school safer.
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Safe Harbor: A School-Based Victim Assistance/Violence Prevention Program
January 2003