NIJ’s Comprehensive School Safety Initiative

What Do We Already Know About What Works?

As part of the Initiative, NIJ looked at existing evaluation research related to school safety and rated programs and practices using the methodology.

Review a list of rated programs and practices on

NIJ’s Comprehensive School Safety Initiative is a research-focused initiative to increase the safety of schools and students nationwide.

On this page find:

About the Initiative

The goal of the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative is to improve the safety of our nation’s schools and students through rigorous research that produces practical knowledge. This is accomplished through partnerships — among educators, researchers, and stakeholders from other disciplines, such as law enforcement, behavioral and mental health professionals — that are working toward the following objectives:

  • Increasing scientific knowledge about the root causes, characteristics, and consequences of school violence and other threats to school and student safety.
  • Developing, supporting, and rigorously evaluating a wide range of school and student safety programs, practices, and strategies.
  • Developing a comprehensive school safety framework based on the best available information and evidence and testing it in selected school districts.

For the most part, schools in the U.S. are safe places for students; but when violence does occur, it affects a particularly vulnerable population (children and adolescents), and strikes a blow against a fundamental public institution in our communities. Threats to school and student safety may come from outside or inside the school and from adults or minors. Safeguarding against these threats may require a wide range of activities including:

  • Building partnerships between educators and law enforcement.
  • Creating a positive school climate.
  • Implementing effective disciplinary policies.
  • Providing access to quality behavioral and mental health services.
  • Assessing internal and external threats.
  • Controlling access and improving physical security.
  • Working with families.
  • Developing school emergency operations plans.

Much remains to be learned about the effectiveness and best approaches to these, and other, school safety activities.

Projects Funded in 2014

NIJ launched the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative in 2014 with a congressional appropriation of $75 million.

Learn about the projects NIJ funded in 2014.

Goals for New Research

In 2015, NIJ hopes to fund projects in four categories, each with different expectations and requirements:

  • Developing Knowledge About What Works to Make Schools Safe:
    Demonstrations and evaluations of programs, practices, policies, and strategies designed to enhance school and student safety.
  • Causes and Consequences of School Violence:
    Research to better understand the root causes and related factors that contribute to school violence, as well as the impact and consequences of school violence.
  • Shorter Term Studies on School Safety:
    Research projects that produce, within 24 months, findings with implications for school safety practices and policies.
  • Developing and Evaluating a Comprehensive School Safety Framework:
    Development and testing of comprehensive approaches to school safety.

Read the 2015 solicitation (pdf, 39 pages).

Additional Comprehensive School Safety Initiative resources:

Date modified: May 5, 2015