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In Brief: Rationale for Safe and Supportive Environments for All Students and Staff (SSE) for PS13-1308

Research shows that safe and supportive school environments are associated with improved education and health outcomes for all students. Promoting and providing a learning environment in which all students and staff can expect to feel safe and supported is an essential function of schools. The school environment is shaped by district and school policies and practices; school structure and decision-making processes; and classroom factors, such as teachers’ classroom management methods and peer-to-peer/teacher-to-student relationships.

When students find their school environment to be supportive and caring and their parents engaged in their school lives, they are less likely to become involved in substance abuse, violence, and other behaviors that are associated with HIV and STD risk. For those students at disproportionate risk of HIV/STD—such as young men who have sex with men (YMSM), who often experience increased victimization (e.g., bullying or harassment)—safe and supportive school environments are especially important.

Research on prevention of school-based bullying and harassment has identified promising practices including —

  • Implementing and enforcing a school-wide anti-bullying and harassment policy.
  • Improving the supervision of students.
  • Using school rules and behavior management techniques in the classroom as ways to keep students safe.

In addition, school connectedness and parent engagement in schools have been identified as promising protective factors for adolescent sexual and reproductive health risk behaviors and outcomes.

Further information on the rationale for safe and supportive environments, including a comprehensive summary (with text references), is available at Rationale for Program 1308 Approaches [pdf 162K].


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