Link for Schools: A System to Prevent Violence and its Adverse Impacts

Award # 2016-CK-BX-0006 from the National Institute of Justice, Department of Justice

This research study will examine the effectiveness of a new theory-based system, called Link, that provides a sustainable infrastructure of upstream support for youth at-risk of violence. Link builds upon the principles of Trauma Informed Care and Psychological First Aid to identify and intervene on mental health and behavioral precursors of violence, and to mitigate the immediate impacts of violence among exposed youth. The University of Iowa is conducting this research in collaboration with the Cedar Rapids School Community District and the University of Minnesota.

The purpose of this research is to prevent and intervene in violence that impacts students, with a goal to adopt cost-effective school-based violence prevention strategies. The following objectives will be evaluated: 

  • Objective 1: Evaluate the effectiveness of Link in improving climate and student performance (e.g., reduced absenteeism, reduced suspensions).
  • Objective 2: Evaluate the effectiveness of Link in reducing school violence (i.e., bullying, fights and office discipline referrals).
  • Objective 3: Measure the costs associated with Link administration, implementation, and training and estimate its cost effectiveness.

The Link for Schools project builds on previous research conducted at the University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center. During the Great Flood of Cedar Rapids in 2008-09, researchers pilot-tested key components of the Link program with school nurses who provided services to children traumatized by the flood. Additionally, the Link for Schools program was adapted from a comparative effectiveness trial conducted from 2014 to 2018, where parent-based interventions (Link and trauma education) to support children after traumatic injury were evaluated.

This research project is led by Principal Investigators Karen Heimer (University of Iowa)and Marizen Ramirez (University of Minnesota).