Positive Youth Development Approach to School Safety: A Comprehensive Conceptual Framework

Stilwell, S. M., Heinze, J. E., Hsieh, H. F., Torres, E., Grodzinski, A., & Zimmerman, M. (2024). Positive Youth Development Approach to School Safety: A Comprehensive Conceptual FrameworkThe Journal of school health, 10.1111/josh.13485. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/josh.13485



Background: Youth violence, victimization, and bullying are pervasive in schools across the United States and are detrimental for learning and healthy development. K-12 school safety is an increasingly urgent issue to research and understand from multiple perspectives. Physical and psychological safety in school is linked to better student and school outcomes and is fundamental to fostering well-being and prosocial behavior.

Methods: Despite research demonstrating positive outcomes associated with school safety, there is no comprehensive conceptual model in the literature that considers precursors, strategies, mechanisms, and outcomes of school safety together. The current paper presents an equity-centered comprehensive model of school safety, which is intended as a holistic representation of the multiple factors and pathways that contribute to school safety and positive youth development.

Results: This model can guide research and practice through an equity-centered and comprehensive approach. This model can enable practitioners, researchers, and policymakers to make informed decisions and reach consensus regarding planning and decisions related to reducing violence and establishing supportive school environments.

Conclusion: Our model suggests that a comprehensive approach can ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff. By thinking ecologically, schools, communities, and stakeholders can ensure that all aspects of the school context are included in school safety.

Keywords: conceptual model; positive youth development; school safety; school safety framework.