Baltimore to Tackle Violence Via a School-Based Pilot

Baltimore City’s violence prevention program is partnering with City Public Schools to disrupt pathways to violence in City high schools.

Baltimore City is entering into a partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) to establish school-based violence intervention pilot programs in three Baltimore City public schools considered to be high-risk for pathways to violence: Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School, Carver Vocational Technical High School, and Digital Harbor High School.

A press release details the pilot program:

School-based specialists will work with youth, school administrators, and families to shift community norms about the acceptability of violence, create a positive school climate, strengthen youth’s problem-solving and conflict management skills and strengthen students’ academic performance. This includes building interpersonal skills in communication, problem-solving, conflict resolution and management, empathy, emotional regulation management, and behavioral skills.

The school-based violence intervention staff members will provide support to students who are identified as being at a high-risk of participating in violence and partner with faculty to shift the cultural norms of violence and provide restorative practices to combat violent behavior through five intervention strategies including essential life skills training, conflict mediation training, academic remediation, emotional wellness. In addition, eight student ambassadors per school will be selected to assist with program implementation and will also be connected to existing community violence intervention programming.

The pilot will also leverage student ambassadors who will also receive weekly stipends for their participation. It also includes a plan for continued engagement during summer and other school breaks: “During the summer and other school breaks, staff will continue engaging students and connect them with training, enrichment activities, and mentoring.”

“Impactful and sustainable change begins with our young people. For the first time in Baltimore, we are meeting them where they are and integrating intervention methods into their daily lives,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “As leaders and educators, it is our responsibility to ensure that our young people have all of the tools they need to not just survive but thrive.”

Mergenthaler, Carver, and Digital Harbor were chosen to participate in the pilot based on the following:

Criteria for identifying host schools were based on the number of arrests, diversions, and disciplinary actions as a result of violence, including suspensions of students, the availability of a restorative specialist, and the school’s capacity to support a pilot program. Each school will employ three school-based violence interrupters who will be trained to mediate conflicts that could result in violent behavior. A community-based organization will be selected to provide oversight of the program, along with the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (MONSE).

The pilot program is expected to launch in Spring of the current (2022-23) school year.

Read the full press release.