CORVALLIS - Though the media furor over school shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado and Oregon's Thurston High School has calmed, concern about violence in schools and elsewhere in society continues to be the focus of intense scrutiny.

A conference July 18-20 at Oregon State University will look at many of the issues relating to violence and what some communities, schools and social service agencies are doing about it.

The sixth annual Violence Prevention Summer Institute will be held at OSU's CH2M-HILL Alumni Center and LaSells Stewart Center. It has been organized by the Oregon Department of Education and OSU's Department of Public Health, with sponsorship support from a dozen other health-related organizations.

The theme for this year's conference is "Creating Safe Learning Environments for Youth." "The conference still has a focus on youth, especially violence prevention and early intervention with at-risk students," said Rebecca Donatelle, an associate professor of public health at OSU and a conference organizer. "The focus is on the interaction between schools, parents, communities, and social service agencies and how they pool their resources and coordinate their program activities to meet overall risk reduction goals."

Interest in the workshop continues to be high. About 600 educators, administrators, and social service specialists are expected at the conference, which has closed its registration.

Featured speakers at the conference include: Delbert S. Elliott, a professor of sociology and director of The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado; Okianer Christian-Dark, assistant U.S. Attorney with the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit in Oregon; and Thomas E. Brennan, chaplain, Harvard University.

Elliott recently was selected to edit the science section of the U.S. Surgeon General's "Report to the Nation on Youth Violence." The conference's keynote speaker on Tuesday, July 18, his talk, "Violence Prevention Programs: What Works?" begins at 9 a.m.

A former professor of law at Willamette University and the University of Richmond, Christian-Dark is known for her work in preventing hate crimes and crimes against women. Her Wednesday keynote talk, "Reclaiming the Soul of Our Communities," begins at 9 a.m.

Harvard University's Brennan has served as a teacher, counselor and principal in high school and helped organize the first summer conferences on school violence beginning in 1993. His Thursday keynote talk, "Moving from Violence Prevention to Waging Peace," begins at 1:45 p.m.

The conference includes a number of workshops that focus on topical issues, primarily relating to K-12 education. Some of these include:

  • "Club Drugs and Drug-Induced Rape," including Ecstasy and Rohypnol.
  • "Parenting: One of the Foundations for Prevention."
  • "Assessing Threats of Harm."
  • "Making Schools Safe for Sexual Minority Youth."
  • "Keeping Troubled Kids in School."
  • "Gangbusters: Strategies for Prevention and Intervention."
  • "Preventing Self-Inflicted Violence: A Training Model for Youth Suicide Prevention Education."
  • "Kids and the Internet: A Guide to Safe and Productive Use."
  • "Hate Crimes."
  • "Preventing Gun Violence in Oregon Schools and Communities."
  • "Options to Anger."

Not all of the workshops are aimed at K-12 schools. Donatelle will present one workshop called "Violence on Campus" Academic Sanctuary or High Risk Meeting Place?" that provides an overview of violence on America's college and university campuses. During another workshop, she will address violence in the workplace.

A series of eight pre-conference workshops will be held on Monday, July 17, to help participants learn more about implementing effective violence prevention programs.

For more information on the conference, visit the Oregon Department of Education web site at:

Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.


Becky Donatelle, 541-737-3839