Introduction to the Special Series

Introduction to the Special Series – Brief Article

Hill M. Walker

EVERY CHILD, PARENT, AND TEACHER has an educational right to a safe school. Safe schools are not merely environments where there is an absence of violence, but environments where children feel safe and secure in order to develop to their full potential (Morrison, Furlong, & Morrison, 1994). Safe schools should be places where students are free of psychological stress, social chaos, and physical harm. To the extent that schools are not safe, schools will become challenging settings for students to acquire the academic, social, vocational, and community participation competencies needed to achieve and thrive in our society. Also, teachers who work in unsafe educational settings will experience stress and burnout that may result in many talented individuals leaving the educational profession. Unfortunately, schools today are not safe places, and the consequences of discipline problems, violence, crime, and substance abuse in our nation’s schools will very likely be long-lasting.

This special two-issue series of the Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders addresses the interrelated domains of school safety, school discipline problems, academic failure, delinquency, and youth violence. The two issues contain articles that describe important advances in our understanding of and our ability to impact these pressing social problems. In this series, we have included articles that establish the social and behavioral parameters of the school safety/school violence issue, articles that describe and present data on successful school and community-based prevention and intervention efforts, and articles that address economic and legal issues. The contributors of these articles have long and distinguished histories of achievement in the work they report herein.

Vulnerability to school safety can be grouped under four broad areas:

1. the design, use, and supervision of school space;

2. the administrative operation and practices of the school;

3. the nature of the communities and neighborhood(s) served by the school; and

4. the attitudes, beliefs, values, and behavioral characteristics of the students who attend that school. (Sprague & Walker, in press)

The content of the articles in this special series address primarily areas 2 and 4 above. These articles represent important contributions to the rapidly developing knowledge base on school safety and prevention of delinquency and school violence among today’s population of at-risk children and youth. We are grateful to the authors for their efforts in this regard and to Kimberly Hoagwood of the National Institute of Mental Health for her willingness to prepare a prologue to this special issue.


Morrison, G. M., Furlong, M., & Morrison, R. L. (1994). From school violence to school safety: Reframing the issue for school psychologists. School Psychology Review, 23, 236-256.

Sprague, J., & Walker, H. M. (in press). Early identification and intervention for antisocial and violent youth. Exceptional Children.


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