Safe and Supportive Schools

The American Psychological Association (APA) Safe and Supportive Schools Project promotes the establishment of safe and supportive environments1 for middle and high school students as an approach for preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among adolescents. The five-year $1 million cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) that funds the Safe and Supportive Schools Project (SSSP) began Aug. 1, 2013.  

During the first year of the cooperative agreement, the SSSP is developing evidence-supported resources on safe and supportive schools for school counselors, nurses, psychologists, social workers and other personnel who can implement interventions to improve school climate. School Staff Professional Development resources were developed with previous CDC/DASH funding on preventing health risks and promoting healthy outcomes among lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning youth.

The SSSP will disseminate these resources to the 19 state education agencies that CDC/DASH has also funded during years two-five (Aug. 1, 2014-July 31, 2018).  CDC/DASH funded the state education agencies to assist selected school districts to implement school-based HIV/STD prevention using three approaches: 1) delivering exemplary sexual health education emphasizing HIV and other STD prevention; 2) increasing adolescent access to key sexual health services; and 3) establishing safe and supportive environments for students and staff, the approach for which CDC funded APA. 

The CDC Funding Opportunity Announcement PS13-1308 entitled "Promoting Adolescent Health Through School-Based HIV/STD Prevention and School-Based Surveillance" is the source of APA’s award. CDC awarded approximately $14 million in FY 2013 to state, territorial, and local education and health agencies as well as to national non-governmental organizations. The primary purpose of CDC FOA 1308 is to build the capacity of school districts and individual schools to contribute effectively to three outcomes:

  1. Reduction of HIV infection and other STDs among all adolescents;
  2. Reduction of disparities in HIV infection and other STDs experienced by specific groups of youths at disproportionate risk; and
  3. School-based surveillance through the implementation of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and School Health Profiles.

The three groups of youths at disproportionate risk identified by the CDC are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth, with an emphasis on young men who have sex with men (YMSM); homeless youth; and youth enrolled in alternative schools.

Nearly half of the 19 million new sexually transmitted diseases reported each year occur in young people, ages 15-24.2  In 2010, young people, ages 13-24, accounted for 21 percent of all new HIV infections in the United States and the incidence among young men who have sex with men, especially youth African American and Latino young men, has been rising, unlike the trends in HIV for all other groups.2 School is a nearly universal locale for prevention aimed at young people. Thus, the CDC/DASH has a long history of supporting coordinated school health programs, including the prevention of HIV infection, STDs and pregnancy.

For more information, contact the Safe and Supportive Schools Project

Email, Telephone: (202) 336-6055
Safe and Supportive Schools Project
American Psychological Association 
750 First St, NE
Washington, D.C. 20002

1 Learning environments in which all students and staff can expect to feel safe and supported through student connectedness, parent engagement, and prevention of school-based bullying and harassment. (PDF, 429.4KB)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Safe and Supportive Environments for All Students and Staff (SSE).

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). HIV Surveillance in Adolescents and Young Adults, 2012.