Youth Engagement at the Texas School Safety Center

At the Texas School Safety Center, we believe that youth are key partners in creating safe, secure, and healthy environments. By engaging youth as leaders, we teach them important skills in community service and democratic citizenship while improving life skills and academic achievement.1,2 The ways that power and authority are distributed in traditional institutions like schools can make supporting youth leadership challenging, so adults can play a key role in fostering youth leadership development by building relationships and granting students autonomy and independence, while remaining respectful of them and attentive to their experiences.3,4,5 We strongly believe in the power of youth and adult partnerships and the capacity we all have to change the world we live in.

Youth need opportunities to both learn about and practice leadership, in meaningful and authentic ways. The Texas School Safety Center facilitates several initiatives that are built on a foundation of youth leadership and engagement including the Texas Teen Ambassadors, the Say What! Youth Movement, the TxSSC Youth Preparedness Council and the Texas Youth Preparedness Camp. Youth leaders participating in these initiatives are making a huge impact in Texas by getting involved in policy changes and developing relationships with adults working in tobacco prevention and cessation and youth preparedness for their communities.

We also offer training for school staff on working directly with youth through our Sandy Hook Promise: Start with Hello program which teaches students to be more socially inclusive and connected to each other. With activities and curricula available for all ages, school staff learn to engage students in Start With Hello activities and instructional strategies that will help to reduce loneliness, social isolation and build inclusive school communities. The training is 2.5 hours and consists of a wide range of activities and resources to ensure training integration within the school culture, supported by student-led SAVE Promise Clubs.

TxSSC Youth Awards

TxSSC Youth Programs

References

1 Robinson, C. (2014). Children, their voices and their experiences of school: What does the evidence tell us? Retrieved from https://cprtrust.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/FINAL-VERSION-Carol-Robinson-Children-their-Voices-and-their-Experiences-of-School.pdf

2 Thomson, P. (2012). Understanding, evaluation and assessing what students learn from leadership activities: Student research in Woodlea Primary. Management in Education, 26, 96–103. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0892020612445677

3 Mitra, D., Serriere, S., & Krishner, B. (2014). Youth participation in US contexts: Student voice without a national mandate. Children & Society, 28, 292–304. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/chso.12005

4 Mitra, D., Serriere, S., & Stoicovy, D. (2012). The role of leaders in enabling student voice. Management in Education 26, 104–112. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0892020612445678

5 Mansfield, K. C. (2014). How listening to student voices informs and strengthens social justice research and practice. Educational Administration Quarterly, 50, 392–430. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0013161X13505288