The Baltimore Banner reported on data about school violence from around the state, finding large increases in fighting, threats, and suspensions throughout the state, with the largest increases in Baltimore and Ann Arundel counties. But violence in Baltimore City schools, along with those in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, has dropped.
As the Banner reports, “the three localities have been proactive in instituting new approaches to misbehavior aimed at solving disagreements between students before they escalate. After the pandemic hit, they may have been better able to help support students upon their return.”
The story goes on to describe OSI’s partnership with Baltimore City Schools to introduce restorative practices to reduce conflict, prevent violence, and avoid arrests and suspensions.
“Baltimore City’s school system decided in 2017 to invest in training its teachers and administrators in restorative practices, a technique used to help students share their concerns and resolve conflicts. In a 2018 partnership with the Open Society Institute, 15 schools were chosen to be intensive learning sites for restorative practices, with new lesson plans that embedded the practices in the school culture. The institute’s Karen Webber said the continuation of the practice during the pandemic may have helped students feel connected to their schools and reduced bad behaviors when they returned to in-person classes.
“A high rate of students who were chronically absent in city schools this past year may have contributed to a more peaceful environment, Webber said.
“’There is not a direct correlation with absence and behavior volatility, but absences resulting in smaller class sizes provide greater opportunities for teachers to get a handle on behaviors before they reach crisis levels,’ Webber said.”
For more context on the introduction of restorative practices in Baltimore City Schools, see our 2020 report, Restorative Practices in Baltimore City Schools: A Research Update and Implementation Guide. which shares the results from the first year of implementation, including a 44% in school suspensions.