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Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum

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Attorney General Myers Releases Report From School/Community Safety Coalition

March 19, 2001

Attorney General Hardy Myers today released a report from the Attorney General's School/Community Safety Coalition that concludes that, although Oregon's public schools are reasonably safe, more must be done to reduce incidences of bullying, intimidation and harassment between students.

"The School/Community Safety Coalition's report finds that Oregon's school buildings themselves may need to be more secure, and partnerships between school officials and law enforcement officials need to be established, strengthened and nurtured." Myers said. "But the biggest challenge is to reduce the amount of harassing behavior between students. It is the type of behavior that, if unchecked, escalates to violence."

The report, "How Safe Are Oregon Schools? Status and Recommendations," incorporates the results of several surveys, including a survey of Oregon's public school principals, the state's Youth Risk Behavior Survey, and other sources. It is available online at www.doj.state.or.us.

The Coalition's report recommends that lawmakers and local policymakers consider the following actions:

  • Establish a toll-free, anonymous hotline: The Coalition, through Representative Bill Morrisette, introduced HB 3647, which would establish a statewide, anonymous tip line for students to report suspicious or illegal activity on school grounds or at a school function.
  • Encourage Oregon schools to use comprehensive approaches to reduce bullying, harassment, and mean spirited teasing, including school wide social skills curriculum (interpersonal conflict resolution, anger management, empathy, drug, alcohol, and tobacco resistance, dating violence, etc.).Bullying and harassment in schools emerged as a primary concern of school administrators. While exemplary programs exist in some schools, their use is not widespread and schools face challenges with access to funding for staff development.
  • Establish an Oregon Center for School Safetythrough passage of HB 3429 or similar legislation. The Center would provide technical support to schools and provide biennial reports to the legislature as to the status of school safety in Oregon.
  • Encourage school wide discipline and safety programs for all schools (with appropriate staff training). Research clearly indicates that a well-disciplined school that provides abundant positive interactions between adults and children is safer and helps children grow into well-adjusted, achieving adults. Oregon schools are struggling to implement these research validated programs but often lack resources for training and planning, access to expert training, and systems for evaluating the effects of these interventions.
  • Support early prevention of antisocial behavior. Researchers at the University of Oregon's Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior have published the results of an evaluation of an intervention program (First Step to Success) that they developed for kindergartners and first graders who showed the early signs of antisocial behavior.
  • Examine policies and procedures regarding school security practices in Oregon schools.Oregon schools need to ensure that buildings are secure and prepared for crisis events. The report recommends regular evaluation of these plans, including attention to principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).
  • Encourage risk-reducing architectural school design and assessment of existing buildings. Deteriorating school facilities and schools designed without adequate attention to school security and Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) practices can impede learning and contribute to the risk of violent behavior. To address these concerns, the report recommends that the state and local jurisdictions work toward application of CPTED assessments for all Oregon schools and development of CPTED expertise in schools and law enforcement agencies.
  • Establish standards for school resource officers (SROs) in schools. Schools should adopt policies or protocols which include law enforcement in a cooperative, collaborative approach to issues related to school safety when there has been a report of criminal conduct, actual criminal conduct, or an attempt at criminal conduct.
  • Encourage community and family collaboration. Schools have been the focus of attention in recent years as to school safety, but clearly are only part of the problem (and solution). To support community and family collaboration, the report's recommendations include violence prevention courses in Oregon teacher training programs (including ongoing professional development for inservice teachers) and assisting schools to work in partnership with families and communities to build a school climate that honors and respects differences in cultures, groups and individuals.

"The Coalition's goal was to let Oregonians know how safe its public school currently are and what more can be done, both in prevention and crisis response, to ensure a safe learning environment," Myers said. "I hope this report and its recommendations are useful to both state and local policymakers in their deliberations about how to best use limited resources. I am grateful to the members of the Coalition, especially the University of Oregon's Institute on Violent and Destructive Behavior, for their work on this important project."

Contact:

Kristen Grainger, (503) 378-6002 |
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