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Safe Harbor Program: School Based Victim Assistance and Violence Prevention Program


Delivery Approach:
  • Group
  • Individual
  • Group & Individual
Delivery Format:
  • In-person
Provider Requirements:
  • Licensed/Certified Professional Led
Type of Experience Addressed:
  • Child Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Community Violence
  • Domestic Violence
  • Verbal/Emotional Abuse
  • Other Type of Experience Addressed
Engagement Methods:
  • Talk-based
  • Experiential
  • Other Engagement Methods (see Program Details)
Level of Intervention:
  • Intervention
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Less than 12 weeks
  • School
Program Details:
Type of services provided:

The Safe Harbor Program uses a multi-prong approach that focuses on leadership, empowerment and developed social, emotional and interpersonal skills to help students, parents and schools cope with trauma and exposure to violence.

The program works at three levels:

  • Individual level to modify attitudes, beliefs and norms
  • Interpersonal level to enhance relationships and reduce the effects of exposure to violence on youth
  • Social context level to change environmental factors that influence violent behavior.

Key components of the program are:

  • A ten-lesson trauma education/violence prevention curriculum called PEARLS (People Empowered About Real Life Situations)
  • Individual counseling for victimized youth and individual follow-up with students receiving the curriculum
  • Staff trainings and parental involvement
  • Group activities to reinforce the curriculum and strengthen peer relationships
  • School-wide antiviolence campaign that promotes leadership, empowerment and social responsibility


Program setting:


Length of program/number of sessions:

Curriculum is 10 sessions

Type(s) of trauma/concerns addressed:

Multiple forms of trauma including domestic violence, teen dating violence, community violence, gang violence and child abuse

Symptoms addressed:

Not specified; Implemented with students having a range of problems and symptoms related to trauma and exposure to violence

Education level of providers:

Mental health clinicians

Additional information:


Unique/Innovative Characteristics:

A “Safe Harbor” room is provided in participating schools to provide an easy access point to students who are experiencing trauma/violence. The school-wide elements of the Safe Harbor Program ” reaches many students regardless of whether they have self-identified as experiencing trauma/exposure to violence.

Date Added/Updated:


Population Served

  • 6-12 (Childhood)
  • 13-17 (Adolescent)
  • 18-25 (Young Adult)
Population Language:
  • English
Ethnic Racial Group:
  • Asian
  • Black or African American
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • White
  • Child
  • Child and Non-abusive Parent/Caregiver
  • Survivor parent
  • Community
  • Other Client/audience
Population Adaptations:
Age range of children served:

6 to 21 years of age

Are parent/adult caregiver(s) included in intervention?


Ethnic/racial and other groups served:

This program has been implemented with students from different ethnic/racial backgrounds, students who are recent immigrants and refugees, students from different religious backgrounds and LGBT youth. Implemented primarily in urban areas. It is noted that it could be used in rural areas as well.

Specific cultural adaptations:

None specified

Languages that service/resource is available:

Manual is available in English


Goals of the program/services:

Multi-level, comprehensive program designed to help students, parents and schools cope with violence, victimization and trauma.

Evaluation Studies:
Has there been any evaluation?


Key evaluation results:

A pilot of Safe Harbor Replication sites (Kentucky and California) conducted in 1999 indicated that students in the Safe Harbor Program developed greater self-confidence in their ability to control anger and resolve conflicts nonviolently and increased their ability to solve problems. There were decreases in students’ fighting, anger and bullying behaviors and students had a safe place to discuss important issues. (No reference provided in NCTSN review)

A 1995-98 evaluation of Safe Harbor conducted by the New York University of Social work indicated that students reported using more conflict-resolution strategies, demonstrated increased social control and were more opposed to gang violence. There was a dose-response relationship in that students who participated in more components of the program showed the greatest gains. (No reference provided in the NCTSN review)

Is there an evaluation currently in progress or planned?

None indicated.

Publications about the program:

None indicated

Rated/Reviewed by Evidence Based Registries:

The National Traumatic Stress Network Treatments and Practices, Trauma Interventions 

Training & Resources

Training Language:
  • English
Training Available:
  • Yes
Training manuals/protocols:

Yes. There is a Safe Harbor Implementation Manual, the PEARLS Curriculum and a Facilitator’s Guide to the PEARLS Curriculum, the ten-lesson trauma education/violence prevention curriculum that is a key component of Safe Harbor

Training Contact:

None specified

Program Contact

Carrie Epstein
(347) 328-8031