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Crossing guards provide students with more than a hand to hold when crossing the street or a smiling face when heading to school. They also impact attendance. Route safety is directly linked to children getting to and from school and out-of-school programs. In addition, crossing guards often serve as mentors. But how exactly does the City of Pittsburgh utilize crossing guards and identify system improvements? That’s what a recent study found out.

In April 2015, Allies for Children published a comprehensive crossing guards study. The project, a partnership between A+ Schools, the City of Pittsburgh, The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern PA, United Way of Allegheny County’s Be There campaign and The University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development, looked at ways to enhance safety measures and improve relations between public safety officials and children and youth.

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The study examined how crossing guards, who are often the first uniformed individuals young people encounter, can serve multiple roles with a primary emphasis on safety and mentoring. This research was given to the City of Pittsburgh and Mayor William Peduto, who quickly established working groups to begin implementing the recommendations developed through the research.

Study Focus Areas

  1. Deployment: Researchers studied current deployment criteria, such as traffic requirements, safety regulations and community demographics, and surveyed school leaders and parents.
  2. Equipment: Researchers asked crossing guards and public safety officials about equipment, support and connectivity to the Department of Public Safety, which ensures their own safety as well as the pedestrians they serve.
  3. Professional Development: Researchers analyzed the professional development opportunities and considered if crossing guards could serve as natural mentors for children and youth.

Recommendations Snapshot

A snapshot of the main recommendations can be found on page 22 of The Crossing Guards Study.

Since sharing the full report with the City of Pittsburgh, a working group has been established to prioritize the recommendations.

The absence of a safe route to and from school and afterschool programs poses a roadblock for many students. Better deployment strategies, improved connections to the Department of Public Safety and increased professional development opportunities could enable crossing guards to play an even more vital role in the safety, wellbeing and attendance rates of children and youth.

Download The Crossing Guards Study now or read the report in its entirety below:

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