National Replication

Due to the success of Safe Harbor’s multitiered intervention and prevention model, the U.S. Department of Justice deemed the Safe Harbor program a “promising practice.” As a result, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) provided Safe Horizon with funding to replicate the Safe Harbor model on a national level. The following is a summary of these efforts.

Year One, 1997–1998

  • Conducted a national needs assessment which reinforced the importance of weaving victim assistance components throughout the program design.

  • Established a multidisciplinary national advisory board representing the fields of social work, education, law enforcement, and community programming.

  • Formalized the curriculum and added teacher tips to make it more user-friendly. Also created an accompanying Safe Harbor Facilitator’s Manual. Portions of these materials were piloted in 17 sites representing 10 states and 1 territory (California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).

The Safe Harbor materials were used in a variety of settings: statewide health curriculums, alternative schools, leadership and life-skills courses, substance abuse programs, summer school, and a detention center. Feedback was collected through pre- and post-surveys and ongoing telephone discussions.

Lessons learned from Year One included the following:

  • The curriculum may meet some statewide academic standards within life-skills, leadership, health, and social studies curricula by incorporating more reading and writing activities and assignments.

  • Counseling services are essential to the curriculum. Using the curriculum alone as an intervention strategy is discouraged.

  • Teachers who facilitate the curriculum often will need additional training in counseling and facilitation skills.

  • School personnel expressed concern that student fear was leading to poor attendance and reduced participation in class. They were most interested in Safe Harbor’s capacity to respond to the needs of victims and to provide prevention services in schools.

Years Two and Three, 1998–2000

In the second and third years of the project, 10 Safe Harbor replication sites were established using the lessons learned from Year One. Select staff members at each school were trained to tailor the Safe Harbor model to their school, including shaping staff teams to implement the program. Safe Harbor staff maintained a partnership with each school by providing ongoing technical assistance and encouraging schools to serve as models for other interested schools in their districts.

Lessons learned from this phase of the project include the following:

  • The school principal’s support is essential to ensure buy-in and integration of Safe Harbor into the school community.

  • Onsite technical assistance by Safe Horizon staff augments the Safe Harbor training by meeting the specific needs of individual schools.

  • The program provides schools with the opportunity to improve academic performance by addressing the social and emotional difficulties that lead to disruptive behaviors in the classroom.

  • The program is best operated by a team of flexible and creative staff and provides an opportunity to bring together all of the support services and resources within a school community.

  • School staff trained by Safe Horizon need instruction on how to assess students for trauma related to experiencing or witnessing violence.

  • Safe Harbor training provides staff with the opportunity to explore and identify their thoughts and experiences related to violence and vicarious trauma. Staff are encouraged to receive support when necessary.
Previous Contents Next

Safe Harbor: A School-Based Victim Assistance/Violence Prevention Program
January 2003