Email Status

Volume 17, Number 1
January/February 2001

“We Don't Allow That Here”

In an effort to stem student violence, schools experiment with ways to improve school safety


The shootings at Columbine High School in April 1999 focused national attention on the problem of school violence and sent many districts scrambling for ways to upgrade their school safety programs. The Cherry Creek District in Englewood, CO, already had a set of strategies to promote school safety that included its own anti-bullying program, which has become a national model. In the aftermath of Columbine, Cherry Creek school psychologist Larry Epstein heard one of his elementary school students saying, "What happened at Columbine couldn't happen here, because everyone has a friend." To Epstein, that student's perception of security—and her indirect reference to the school's effort to build caring relationships—was the best endorsement the Cherry Creek program could have.

At a time when many schools have answered concerns about school violence with metal detectors and zero-tolerance policies, most experts agree that, although get-tough measures are sometimes warranted, the best approach to dealing with violence is the kind Cherry Creek is taking: to promote mental health and solid skills—academic and social—and to provide early intervention for students who are struggling in those areas.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


Also by this Author

For Further Information

For Further Information

I.H. Derson and S. Wilson. "An Empirical Review of School Based Programs to Reduce Violence." Washington, DC: Hamilton Fish Institute of School and Community Violence, November, 1999.

K. Dwyer, D. Osher, and C. Warger. "Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools." Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, 1998.

K. Dwyer and D. Osher. "Safeguarding Our Children: An Action Guide." Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, 2000.

C. Garrity, K. Jens, W. Porter, N. Sager, C. Short-Camilli. Bullyproofing Your Elementary School. Longmont, CO: Sopris West, 1998.

A.L. Meyer, A.D. Farrell, and W.B. Northrup. Promoting Nonviolence in Early Adolescence: Responding in Peaceful and Positive Ways. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum, 2000.

National Association of School Psychologists, 4340 East West Highway, Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814.

National Resource Center for Safe Schools, 101 SW Main, Suite 500, Portland, OR 97204.

N. Stein. Bullyproof: A Teacher's Guide on Teasing and Bullying for Use with Fourth and Fifth Grade Students. Washington, DC: National Education Association, 1998.

H.M. Walker, K. Kavanagh, B. Stiller, A. Golly, H.H. Severson, and E.G. Feil. "First Step to Success: An Early Intervention Approach for Preventing School Antisocial Behavior." Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders 6, no. 2 (Summer 1998): 66-80.

First Step to Success Program, Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior, 1265 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403.

1999 Annual Report on School Safety. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, 1999.