Every student should have the right to feel physically and emotionally safe when they are at school. Yet research indicates that nearly one-fifth of all high school students report being bullied at school or online, and this percentage has remained steady in recent years.[1] The results of this type of victimization range from absenteeism to suicidal ideation, self-injury, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and sometimes even violent revenge-driven behavior at school. Peer victimization based on gender, race, and sexual orientation can also be linked to retaliatory violence.

Students often share information about their violent intentions at school with their peers, but their peers can be reluctant to share what they hear about these violent intentions with teachers or school administrators.

Based on this premise, a group of NIJ-funded researchers from Trifoia, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Oregon created a project called SOARS (Student Ownership, Accountability, and Responsibility for School Safety) to address school safety. their goal was to create a student-centered and technology-driven comprehensive school safety framework to promote students’ ability to communicate violent intentions to the school before they occur, take a non-punitive approach to school discipline, foster active participation of students to resolve conflict, and prevent peer victimization from re-occurring. Given that the project was focused on high school students, the researchers placed a strong emphasis on student agency, beginning at the point of conceptualization.