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Community Outreach Through Police in Schools

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2003
4 pages
This document describes the Community Outreach through Police in Schools Program.
This program is a short-term, prevention-oriented, school-based group intervention that brings together police officers and children as group co-leaders to provide weekly sessions for middle school students at risk of being exposed to violence. The program comprises eight 50-minute weekly sessions as well as pretest and posttest survey sessions. The total length of the intervention is 10 weeks. The program targets youth before exposure to violence in their community seriously impacts their functioning. It provides services for children in middle school, a time when many negative behavior patterns develop and are first identified. Children get to know their community police officers better, develop an understanding of the impact of violence and trauma, and learn adaptive means of dealing with the consequences of exposure to violence and trauma. Pretest and posttest data are collected from all students participating via an adapted form of the Social and Health Assessment Survey (SAHA) and the Attitudes Toward Police Scale. The design reveals any changes that may occur in children's functioning and attitudes toward police following completion of the program. Ongoing evaluation has been conducted since the program's inception in 1998. In addition to attitudes toward police officers, the evaluation also aims to document baseline levels of violence exposure and symptoms of other types of anxiety and depression. Levels of violence exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology were high in the pretests and supported the assumption that children participating in the groups were exposed to high levels of community violence. After completing group sessions, students reported being less nervous, less worried about what is going to happen to them, less bothered by thoughts of death, and less worried at bedtime. The program seemed most successful in helping children discuss their feelings and improved their overall level of emotional functioning. Although past survey results indicated positive changes in attitudes toward police officers, current findings were more mixed.

Date Published: August 1, 2003