SSA - Frequently Asked Questions
- Is there evidence that the Safe School Ambassadors program works?
- How are Safe School Ambassadors identified? Do they wear badges or armbands?
- How safe are Safe School Ambassadors? Have there been reprisals? What about liability issues?
- What if our campus already has a peer helping or conflict mediation program?
1. Is there evidence that the Safe School Ambassadors program works?
Yes. This program is based on the most current research in positive youth development and violence prevention. A full research study was completed in 2011, qualifying Safe School Ambassadors as an evidence-based program under the SAMHSA National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices. Implemented in schools nationwide, it has generated trend data that shows it to be effective in reducing cruelty and violence, and improving the climate on a campus, which directly impacts academic performance, staff morale, and budgets. See The Evidence.
2. How are Safe School Ambassadors identified? Do they wear badges or armbands?
No. They operate without any badges, uniforms, or other external markings. There is no public list of Ambassadors and they are not usually recognized in front of their peers. They travel in their ordinary circles with increased awareness, courage, and skill. They intervene to their own level of comfort/risk, when and where it's appropriate, usually with people they know.
3. How safe are Safe School Ambassadors? Have there been reprisals? What about liability issues?
Remember, we are not asking Safe School Ambassadors to physically break up fights. We are asking them to go about their ordinary routines with increased awareness . . . and skill. If they notice something that could lead to violence - deliberate exclusion, teasing, intimidation, bullying, eyeballing, etc. - they are trained to use a full spectrum of intervention strategies, which includes "Getting Help" for situations that require more skill or strength than they alone possess. Since Ambassadors' most assertive interventions are with the people they know best - their friends - reprisals are unlikely, and none have been reported to date. As for liability, the program is based on the principles of peer helping, which has an impressive record. For example, throughout the entire history of the peer helping movement in California, there has never been a single liability issue brought forward.
4. What if our campus already has a peer helping or conflict mediation program?
These programs help students play an important role in keeping a campus safe, and the Safe School Ambassadors program complements them nicely. With its diverse membership, SSA reaches into parts of the campus these other programs often do not touch. And since Safe School Ambassadors are out on the campus, proactively noticing and always available, they are more likely to be able to stop the kinds of trouble that won't wait for an appointment with a peer conflict mediator. Moreover, for 36 students - some of whom are not already engaged in school activities - the SSA program creates opportunities for them to bond with their school, feel more like owners than renters, and make a positive difference... all of which are likely to increase their academic performance and other thriving behaviors.