Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation’s Know the Signs Program in the Los Angeles Unified School District

Overview

The three year study will evaluate programs designed to reduce gun violence in schools by teaching youth to recognize and report potential violence and mental health threats and by increasing social inclusion at school.

Grant Amount: $710,189

Organization: Sandy Hook Promise, University of Michigan

Investigators: Marc A. Zimmerman, Marshall H. Becker Collegiate Professor, and Justin Heinze, assistant professor, both in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health; and Rachel Masi, research director, Sandy Hook Promise

Expected Completion Date: Mid-2022

Project Summary

Purpose

Provide a rigorous evaluation of school-based interventions that aim to promote safety via early detection of signs of potential violent or self-harm behavior, build inclusivity and respect among students and staff, and encourage a culture of safety.

Approach

  • Conduct cluster randomized controlled trial involving 48 middle schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
  • Collect data from multiple sources (including pre- and post-surveys with students, teachers, and school administrators; school records; and semi-structured interviews with key personnel) to assess school-related firearm and violent behavior and its antecedents.
  • Assess risk reporting, incidents, school-community response and school climate.

Significance

School-based interventions that promote early detection and encourage a culture of safety hold promise for reducing the burden of firearms violence among youth but have not been rigorously evaluated. Understanding their effects will be important for schools considering how best to allocate resources to ensure student and staff safety.

Investigator Bios

  • Marc A. Zimmerman is Marshall H. Becker Collegiate Professor, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health; and director, Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center. Dr. Zimmerman is co-principal investigator of the Firearm Safety among Children and Adolescents (FACTS) initiative funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. He has published over 300 articles and book chapters, and co-edited two books on a wide variety of topics on adolescent development including violence, mental health, substance abuse, evaluation methods and empowerment.
  • Justin Heinze is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health. He is a core member of the University of Michigan Injury Prevention Center and Youth Violence Prevention Center, with extensive community-based research and program evaluation experience. He also leads the evaluation of two school-based violence prevention studies in Flint, Mich., and an evaluation of the Michigan Core Violence and Injury Prevention Programs.
  • Rachel Masi is the research director for Sandy Hook Promise. At Sandy Hook Promise, Dr. Masi oversees research evaluation studies and applies findings to improving program development and delivery. She is also a licensed clinical psychologist who provides treatment to children, adolescents and adults and their families in a private practice setting. Dr. Masi has specialized in parent education, child development, and clinical psychology, focusing on the critical intersection of the fields of psychology and education.