Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  • This strategy can help address educational disparities, promote healthy childhood environments, and prevent violence. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve these outcomes are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • Interventions and policies to address disruptive and antisocial behavior: School-based violence and bullying prevention programs can involve school-wide, classroom, and individual-level practices to promote positive behavior and respond to violence or bullying. They involve approaches such as adjustments to school policy, training for staff, and skills-based education for students. There is strong evidence that these programs reduce violence and bullying victimization.

  • Delivered by school staff, targeted toward different populations: Violence and bullying prevention programs can focus on bullies, victims, peers, teachers, or the entire school. These programs are delivered by school staff who teach and model the skills and behaviors that help to prevent violence and bullying as well as enforce policies to ensure appropriate behavior.

  • School-wide interventions change culture and policies: Interventions at the school level aim to shift school culture and the way that bullying and violence are addressed by students and staff school-wide. Examples of school level interventions include evidence-based disciplinary policies, training to help staff identify early warning signs of bullying, or bystander training to help students safely intervene to stop bullying.

  • Classroom-level interventions focus on skills education: Interventions at the classroom level typically center around instructing students on how to prevent and positively respond to bullying. Students learn and practice key social-emotional skills–such as communication, problem-solving, empathy, and emotional awareness and regulation–that help them avoid engaging in bullying behavior and help them respond in a productive way when they witness it.

  • Individual-level practices to address bullying and violent incidents: Individual level interventions are often more intensive and targeted toward students who are most at-risk of engaging in bullying and violent behavior. This may include counseling and other one-on-one support services that encourage or enable behavioral change.

Multiple studies with rigorous designs demonstrate that school-based violence and bullying prevention programs are a well-supported strategy for reducing violence and bullying victimization.

  • Incorporate classroom-level interventions: School-based violence and bullying prevention programs have been shown to be more effective when they are implemented at the individual classroom level rather than solely as part of a school-level initiative. Teachers have the opportunity to reinforce norms and expectations for respectful and supportive behavior on a daily basis. Teachers can also use the relationships they build with students and families to intervene in more personalized ways when violent or bullying incidents occur.

  • Address the unique context of cyberbullying: Students may also experience cyberbullying from peers, although this behavior may occur when students are not physically in school. Schools should consider interventions to prevent and address the impacts of cyberbullying, such as instruction around healthy social media habits, providing mental health services for students affected by cyberbullying, including cyberbullying in discipline policies, or establishing anonymous reporting systems.

  • Incorporate family and parent education: Parents and families have an important role to play in violence and bullying prevention efforts. Schools should include parents in discussions about policies and lessons related to bullying so that they can have conversations with children at home to reiterate the importance of respectful, supportive behavior. In addition, schools should make policies for addressing incidents of bullying clear to parents so that they understand the consequences if their children are bullying peers, and so that they know what to do if their child is the victim of bullying.

  • Address factors “outside” of the school: Students may engage in disruptive behaviors because of health challenges, housing insecurity, disruptions in family life, or other factors outside the direct control of educators. Teachers and school administrators should identify pathways to connect students and families to additional support services, such as health services, counseling, and social service agencies.