The Challenges Today
The growing indifference and increase in bystander behavior has had the unintended consequence of 'normalizing' incivility and intolerance. As recent events have demonstrated, bullying, cyberbullying and other forms of mistreatment continue to permeate our schools. These dangerous behaviors are occurring at younger ages and are more pervasive and therefore more challenging for adults to identify.
The Outside-In Approach to School Safety
Since 1999, our nation has invested more than $10 billion in school safety and climate improvement measures. The vast majority of those dollars have been expended on an 'Outside-In Approach,' which relies heavily on the power and authority of adults to keep the school safe. This approach places primary importance on controlling student behavior through measures like security personnel, cameras, metal detectors and zero tolerance rules and policies.
In spite of this enormous investment, and the fact that nearly all 50 states have passed anti-bullying laws, too many students in too many schools still experience high levels of bullying, harassment and cyber-bullying.
Why the Outside-In Approach Isn't Working
In its 2009 landmark publication, "Ten Years After Columbine: A Report Card on School Violence-Prevention," Community Matters summarized data from national surveys and studies. Bottom line: the Outside-In Approach has not achieved the desired results.
Schools will not become safer without a change in direction, priorities and allocation of resources. The data shows that the key to creating safer schools-as well as increasing attendance, achievement and graduation rates-is to adopt a new approach: an 'Inside-Out Approach'.