Positive Learning Environments in Schools
A Pan-Canadian Consensus Statement


PDF Version (List of organizations that endorsed this statement)

Introduction

On June 25-26, 2000, individuals from over thirty education, justice and community organizations met in Ottawa to develop a consensus statement on how schools can work with communities to prevent crime and violence. The purpose of this statement is to raise awareness and to facilitate the development of partnerships that will lead to safer schools and safer communities.

The individuals who attended that Ottawa meeting ask that national and provincial/territorial organizations consider endorsing this statement or developing their own statement to express their support for principled and collaborative approaches to promoting positive learning environments in schools. They also ask government departments and local authorities to consider the contents of this statement in adopting and implementing their respective policies and programs.

Preamble

This statement has been developed from the premise that research, professional judgment and practical experience all show that fostering healthy social development in children, youth and all community members is an effective approach to address these issues.

Benefits of Positive Learning Environments in Schools

Positive learning environments in schools will:

A Shared Vision about Positive Learning Environments

The adherents to this statement believe that participating in and contributing to a safe, respectful and positive learning environment is both the right and responsibility of children and youth, their parents/caregivers, school personnel and all community members. Schools, acting in partnership with their communities, can create and maintain these environments that foster a sense of belonging, enhance the joy of learning, honour diversity and promote respectful, responsible and caring relationships.

Supporting the healthy development of young people is the focus of many in society. Those engaged in such work should share common principles in how they work with children and youth. Positive learning environments can be built on these shared principles:


The school’s response to crime and violence needs to be part of a community-wide effort. Actions can be taken within the school by school staff, parents and students. As well, agencies and individuals within the community that work with schools can provide services and programs. These include police, health and social services personnel,community agencies, recreation workers, municipalities, religious institutions and the community at large. The roles of these partners will vary from community to community. However, these roles should be developed and agreed to by all of the local partners.

The Evidence Supporting Action In and With Schools

Research and the experiences of countless community workers, parents, youth and professionals have identified several promising practices that schools, working in partnerships with their communities, can use to promote positive learning environments.

Community and School Cooperation

Multiple coordinated programs and services using the school as a hub and, implemented by a variety of agencies, organizations and schools can lead to significant reduction in anti-social behaviours 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Specific partnerships, such as those between police and schools 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 or between schools and community-based organizations,  17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 can lead to targeted improvements. Programs and approaches that involve the whole school 23, 24, 25 in a coordinated set of strategies, programs, services and activities can reduce bullying and harassment 26, 27, 28 improve attendance 29, 30, 31 reduce the number of negative incidents and conflicts, 32, 33, 34 increase student attachment to the school (preventing dropouts) 35 and prevent gangs 36, 37, 38, 39, 40.

Youth Engagement

Engaging youth   41, 42 in crime prevention efforts within the school and the community can reduce antisocial behaviours. These participatory programs occur in a variety of forms, including after school programs 43, 44, 45, 46, peer mediation 47, 48, 49, peer helper and peer leader programs, 50, 51, community service learning, 52, extracurricular sports, recreation, adventure and arts programs, 53, 54, school watch, 55, 56, teen court programs, 57, 58, and reaching out to at risk or out of the mainstream youth 59, 60, 61, 62.

Instruction and Informal Learning

Classroom and informal instructional programs can build pro-social knowledge, skills and attitudes/beliefs among youth 63, 64, 65. Evaluations have shown that such programs can enhance general social and decision-making skills, improve basic academic skills and school success, help to reduce stress and manage anger 66, 67, 68, develop conflict resolution skills 69, 70, 71, prevent specific forms of violence 72, increase knowledge and respect for the law/consequences 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, increase youth involvement in the community and reduce discrimination 79, 80 based on race, religion, culture, sexual orientation or gender, prevent alcohol and drug abuse 81, develop responsibility and character 82 and enhance media literacy skills to reduce the impact of media violence 83.

Positive Behavioural Expectations

Comprehensive school, parent and community attempts to promote a positive, caring environment can be coupled with fair and consistently implemented school conduct and discipline policies to reduce the number and severity of antisocial behaviours 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95. Clearly stated, meaningful and appropriate consequences to each infraction 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, wide school support for their implementation 102, 103, 104, with due process and appeal as well as links to alternatives to suspension/expulsion 105, 106, 107, 108 restorative justice 109 approaches and to individualized behavioural expectations, are effective in responding to incidents. Effective classroom management and teaching 110, 111, 112, regrouping of students for instruction (including alternative classes and schools) 113 and creating sub-units within large schools 114, 115 can all contribute positively to the school’s social climate.

Parent and Community Support

Parents and other adults 116 can be mobilized to support positive changes among youth and the community. Parents/guardians can be informed 117, 118 by the school about their child, become involved with the school and can be supported or trained by agencies  119, 120, 121, 122 through contacts initiated by the school and others. Adults, working and volunteering 123 in the school or in the community can act as mentors 124, 125, 126, 127 and advocates for youth.

Appropriate Security Precautions

Well designed school 128, 129 building and facilities, appropriate use of specialized equipment 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, lighting and appropriate precautions  135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141 can make school sites more secure and safe.

Police, Health, Social and Employment Services

A range of health, employment, social and counseling support services 142, 143, 144, 145, 146 to families, youth and schools can decrease violence, help victims and help offending youth to restore their place in the school and the community. Health professionals and agencies, social service agencies, child welfare authorities, the police, employment and training institutions, housing authorities, the courts and other mandated public services can develop interagency plans 147, 148 that will make a difference. Coordinated case management 149, 150, 151, 152 and appropriate sharing of information can improve the young person’s chances of success. Prepared responses to critical incidents 153, 154, with appropriate supports to victims, their families and the school community can reduce the trauma related to serious incidents. Specialized support to youth with disorders  155, 156, 157 and emotional disturbances can be effective, as can coordinated support for rehabilitation and re-integration of young offenders 158, 159, 160.

References

1, 26, 50, 56, 59, 69, 79, 83, 84, 104, 110, 135     David M. Day, Carol A. Golench, Jyl MacDougall, Cheryl A. Beals-Gonzaléz, 1995.  SCHOOL-BASED VIOLENCE PREVENTION IN CANADA: RESULTS OF A NATIONAL SURVEY OF POLICIES AND PROGRAMS. Ottawa, ON. Solicitor-General of Canada.

2, 46, 49, 51, 54, 65, 72, 78, 81, 85, 96, 111, 113, 124, 146, 148, 157     Denise C. Gottfredson, SCHOOL-BASED CRIME PREVENTION, CHAPTER 5.

3    Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. CSPV FACT SHEET.  SAFE COMMUNITIES ~ SAFE SCHOOLS MODEL.

4    Wendy Schwartz. AN OVERVIEW OF STRATEGIES TO REDUCE SCHOOL VIOLENCE. ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education.

5    PREVENTING SCHOOL VIOLENCE. FULL SERVICE SCHOOLS

6    Adele Harrell, 1996. INTERVENING WITH HIGH RISK YOUTH. National Institute of Justice Research.

7, 8    Sheppard G. Kellam, Ron Prinz, and Joseph F. Sheley, 1999. PREVENTING SCHOOL VIOLENCE: PLENARY PAPERS OF THE 1999 CONFERENCE ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESEARCH AND EVALUATION ENHANCING POLICY AND PRACTICE THROUGH RESEARCH, VOLUME 2. National Institute of Justice Research.

9    Daniel McGillis, 1996. BEACONS OF HOPE: NEW YORK CITY'S SCHOOL-BASED COMMUNITY CENTERS. National Institute of Justice Research.

10, 108, 143  THE CHALLENGE OF PROVIDING EFFECTIVE INTERVENTIONS FOR SERIOUS JUVENILE OFFENDERS. Juvenile Justice Bulletin, April 2000.

11    Colleen Ryan, Frederick Matthews, 1995. A NATIONAL DIRECTORY OF EXEMPLARY SCHOOL-BASED POLICE PROGRAMS TO COMBAT YOUTH VIOLENCE. Solicitor-General of Canada.

12    Steven Marans, Miriam Berkman, 1997. CHILD DEVELOPMENT-COMMUNITY POLICING: PARTNERSHIP IN A CLIMATE OF VIOLENCE. National Institute of Justice Research.

13, 68, 77, 129, 139       Texas Youth Commission. MODEL PROGRAMS THAT ADDRESS WEAPONS

14    Jeffrey A. Roth, Joseph F. Ryan, Stephen J. Gaffigan, Christopher S. Koper, Mark H. Moore, Janice A. Roehl, Calvin C. Johnson, Gretchen E. Moore, Ruth M. White, Michael E. Buerger, Elizabeth A. Langston, David Thacher, 2000. NATIONAL  EVALUATION OF THE COPS PROGRAM. National Institute of Justice Research.

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16   National Crime Prevention Council.  CRIME PREVENTION AND COMMUNITY POLICING: A VITAL LINK. LOCAL INITIATIVES.

17    EVALUATION OF BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS IN PUBLIC HOUSING. 1995. NIJ Research Preview. National Institute of Justice Research.

18, 149    FOCUS ON ACCOUNTABILITY: BEST PRACTICES FOR JUVENILE COURT PROBATION. JAIBG BULLETIN, August 1999.

19    NCPC. YOUTH ACTION INITIATIVE, Ottawa, ON.

20    NCPC. MARY FIX CATHOLIC SCHOOL, Mississauga, ON

21    NCPC. PERRY PRESCHOOL PROGRAM, Michigan, USA.

22    ACTION STEPS FOR COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS GROUPS. CREATING SAFE AND DRUG-FREE SCHOOLS: AN ACTION GUIDE. 1996.

23    NIJ UPDATE. 1995.  EVALUATION OF VIOLENCE PREVENTION PROGRAMS IN MIDDLE SCHOOLS

24    North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. SAFE-SCHOOL PLAN.

25    Wendy Schwartz, 1999. PREVENTING VIOLENCE BY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN. ERIC/CUE DIGEST NUMBER 149.

26    (See # 1)

27    NCPC. BULLYING AND VICTIMIZATION: THE PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS FOR SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN.

28    CSPV. BLUEPRINTS FOR VIOLENCE PREVENTION

29    DeKalb Jay. 1999. STUDENT TRUANCY. ERIC DIGEST, NUMBER 125.

30    ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education New York NY. URBAN POLICIES AND PROGRAMS TO REDUCE TRUANCY. ERIC/CUE DIGES, NUMBER 129.

31    Creating Safe and Drug Free Schools. 1996. THE PROBLEM OF TRUANCY IN AMERICA'S COMMUNITIES.

32    Creating Safe and Drug Free Schools. 1996. CONFLICT RESOLUTION.

33, 71,    Donna Crawford, Richard Bodine, 1996. CONFLICT RESOLUTION EDUCATION: FRONT MATTER.

34    Wheeler, Terrence; and Others. 1994. CONFLICT MANAGEMENT IN SCHOOLS: SOWING SEEDS FOR A SAFER SOCIETY. FINAL REPORT OF THE SCHOOL CONFLICT MANAGEMENT DEMONSTRATION PROJECT 1990-1993.

35    Sharon Cantelon, Donni LeBoeuf, 1997. KEEPING YOUNG PEOPLE IN SCHOOL.

36    F Esbensen, 1996. GANG RESISTANCE EDUCATION AND TRAINING: THE NATIONAL EVALUATION.

37    Irving Spergel and Alba Alexander, 1993. NATIONAL YOUTH GANG SUPPRESSION AND INTERVENTION PROGRAM. A SCHOOL-BASED MODEL.

38    Esbensen F, 2000. PREVENTING ADOLESCENT GANG INVOLVEMENT.

39    DEVELOPING A GANG PREVENTION PROGRAM.

40    Burnett G, Walz G. 1994. GANGS IN THE SCHOOLS. ERIC DIGEST 99.

41    Dennis Jay Kenney, Steuart Watson, 1999. CRIME IN THE SCHOOLS: REDUCING CONFLICT WITH STUDENT PROBLEM SOLVING.

42     Creating Safe and Drug-Free Schools: An Action Guide, 1996. ACTION STEPS FOR STUDENTS.

43    Canadian Parks/Recreation Association. IMPACT AND BENEFITS OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND RECREATION ON CANADIAN YOUTH-AT-RISK.

44    Safe and Smart: Making After-School Hours Work for Kids, 1996. CHAPTER 2. WHAT WORKS: COMPONENTS OF EXEMPLARY AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMS.

45    Keeping Schools Open As Community Learning Centers, 1997. THE BENEFITS OF SCHOOLS AS COMMUNITY LEARNING CENTERS.

46    (See #2)

47    Cueto, Santiago and Others. 1993. PROMOTING PEACE: INTEGRATING CURRICULA TO DEAL WITH VIOLENCE.

48    Johnson D, Johnson R. (1996). CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND PEER MEDIATION PROGRAMS IN ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS: A REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH. REVIEW OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, 66(4), 459-506.

49    (See #2)

50    (See #1)

51    (See #2)

52    Lewis Anne. URBAN YOUTH IN COMMUNITY SERVICE: BECOMING PART OF THE SOLUTION. ERIC/CUE DIGEST, NUMBER 81.

53    Berman DS, Davis-Berman J, 1995. OUTDOOR EDUCATION AND TROUBLED YOUTH, ERIC DIGEST.

54    (See #2)

55    Youth Crime Watch of America. CRIME REPORTING.

56    (See #1)

57    Nessel Paula A, 1999. TEEN COURTS AND LAW-RELATED EDUCATION. ERIC DIGEST.

58    National Criminal Justice Reference Service. PEER JUSTICE AND YOUTH EMPOWERMENT: AN IMPLEMENTATION GUIDE FOR TEEN COURT PROGRAMS.

59    (See #1)

60, 132    Taxman FS, 1998. REDUCING RECIDIVISM THROUGH A SEAMLESS SYSTEM OF CARE; COMPONENTS OF EFFECTIVE TREATMENT, SUSPENSION AND TRANSITION SERVICES IN THE COMMUNITY.

61, 107    Center for the Prevention of School Violence. QUALITY ALTERNATIVE PLACEMENTS FOR SUSPENDED OR EXPELLED STUDENTS: "LESSONS LEARNED" FROM THE CENTER FOR THE PREVENTION OF SCHOOL VIOLENCE'S YOUTH OUT OF THE EDUCATION MAINSTREAM INITIATIVE.

62    U.S. Department of Justice. REACHING OUT TO YOUTH OUT OF THE MAINSTREAM.

63    Ellis P, 1995. EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS THAT ALTER KNOWLEDGE, ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIOUR OF YOUTH. Department of Justice Canada.

64    Allan J, Nairne J, Majcher J, 1996. VIOLENCE AND VIOLENCE PREVENTION: A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.

65    (See #2)

66    Juvenile Justice Bulletin. 2000. EFFECTIVE INTERVENTIONS FOR SERIOUS JUVENILE OFFENDERS.

67    American Medical Association Health Insight. SCIENCE NEWS UPDATE. VIOLENCE PREVENTION LESSONS APPEAR TO DECREASE AGGRESSION AMONG YOUNGSTERS.

68    (See #13)

69    (See #1)

70    Mahduri Pendharkar, 1995. SCHOOL-BASED CONFLICT MANAGEMENT.

71    (See # 33)

72    (See #2)

73    Youth Justice Education Partnership. SUMMARIES - YOUTH LAW-RELATED EDUCATION SURVEY.

74   

75    Pereira C, 1995. LINKING LAW-RELATED EDUCATION TO REDUCING VIOLENCE BY AND AGAINST YOUTH. ERIC DIGEST.

76    Enger JM and Others. EFFECTS OF A VIOLENCE PREVENTION PROGRAM ON STUDENT UNDERSTANDING OF VIOLENCE.

77    (See  #13)

78    (See #2)

79    (See # 1)

80    Stephen Wessler, 2000. PROMISING PRACTICES AGAINST HATE CRIMES: FIVE STATE AND LOCAL DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS.

81    (See #2)

82   Character Education Partnership. RESULTS OF CHARACTER EDUCATION.

83    (See #1)

84    (See #1)

85    (See #2)

86    Sackney L. ENHANCING SCHOOL LEARNING CLIMATE: THEORY, RESEARCH AND PRACTICE.

87    Johns B, Keenan J, 1997. TECHNIQUES FOR MANAGING A SAFE SCHOOL.

88    RESOURCES ON PUNISHMENT AND INTERVENTION.

89    Creating Safe and Drug-Free Schools: An Action Guide, 1996. ACTION STEPS FOR SCHOOLS.

90    Walker D, 1995. SCHOOL VIOLENCE PREVENTION.

91    CDC. COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS ON YOUTH VIOLENCE.

92    Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. POSITIVE PEER CULTURE PROGRAMS.

93    Korinek L. CHAPTER NINE. POSITIVE BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT: FOSTERING RESPONSIBLE STUDENT BEHAVIOR.

94    Warger C, 1999. POSITIVE BEHAVIOR SUPPORT AND FUNCTIONAL ASSESSMENT. ERIC/OSEP DIGEST E580.

95    Purkey WW, 1999. CREATING SAFE SCHOOLS THROUGH INVITATIONAL EDUCATION. ERIC DIGEST.

96    (See #2)

97    Thompson L. ONE INCIDENT IS TOO MANY: POLICY GUIDELINES FOR SAFE SCHOOLS.

98    Canadian Paediatric Society. EFFECTIVE DISCIPLINE FOR CHILDREN.

99    Clearinghouse on Educational Management, 1992. SCHOOL DISCIPLINE. ERIC DIGEST 78.

100    School-wide PBS. SCHOOL-WIDE SUPPORT.

101    Gushee M. 1984. STUDENT DISCIPLINE POLICIES. ERIC CLEARINGHOUSE ON EDUCATIONAL MANAGEMENT: ERIC DIGEST, NUMBER TWELVE.

102    Van Acker R. DEVELOPING SCHOOL-WIDE PROGRAMS FOR AGGRESSION PREVENTION AND INTERVENTION.

103    Fitzsimmons MK, 1998. SCHOOL-WIDE BEHAVIORAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS. ERIC/OSEP DIGEST #E563.

104    (See #1)

105    Creating Safe and Drug-Free Schools: An Action Guide, 1996. ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION PROGRAMS FOR EXPELLED STUDENTS.

106    Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 1995. ALTERNATIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS.

107    (See #61)

108    (See #10)

109    Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. GUIDE FOR IMPLEMENTING BALANCED AND RESTORATIVE JUSTICE MODEL.

110    (See #1)

111    (See #2)

112    ERIC database. MANAGING INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR IN THE CLASSROOM. ERIC DIGEST #E408.

113    (See #2)

114    Cotton K. 1996. AFFECTIVE AND SOCIAL BENEFITS OF SMALL-SCALE SCHOOLING. ERIC DIGEST.

115    Cotton K. SCHOOL SIZE, SCHOOL CLIMATE, AND STUDENT PERFORMANCE.

116    Creating Safe and Drug-Free Schools: An Action Guide, 1996. ACTION STEPS FOR PARENTS.

117    TheSchoolDaily.com, 2000. US ANTI-VIOLENCE PROGRAM EFFECTIVE.

118    Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1999. FAMILIES AND SCHOOLS TOGETHER: BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS.

119    Lynn McDonald, Deborah Howard, 1998.   FAMILIES AND SCHOOLS TOGETHER.

120    Karol Kumpfer, Connie Tait, 2000. FAMILY SKILLS TRAINING FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN.

121    Sharon Cantelon. 1994. FAMILY STRENGTHENING FOR HIGH-RISK YOUTH.

122    Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1999. RAISING A THINKING CHILD: THE PARENT INTERVENTION.

123    Jean Baldwin Grossman, Eileen M. Garry, 1997. A PROVEN DELINQUENCY PREVENTION STRATEGY

124    (See #2)

125    Creating Safe and Drug-Free Schools: An Action Guide, 1996. MENTORING IN SCHOOLS.

126    Jean Baldwin Grossman, Eileen M Garry, 1997. A PROVEN DELINQUENCY PREVENTION STRATEGY.

127    LC, Novotney, E Mertinko, J Lange, TK Baker, 2000. JUVENILE MENTORING PROGRAM: A PROGRESS REVIEW.

128    Crowe TD, 1990. DESIGNING SAFER SCHOOLS.

129    (See # 13)

130, 140    Gaustad J, 1999. THE FUNDAMENTALS OF SCHOOL SECURITY. ERIC DIGEST NUMBER 132.

131    National Institute of Justice. THE APPROPRIATE AND EFFECTIVE USE OF SECURITY TECHNOLOGIES IN U.S. SCHOOLS.

132    (See #60)

133    Gaustad J, 1990. SCHOOL SECURITY. ERIC DIGEST SERIES NUMBER EA 46.

134    RESOURCES ON SECURITY MEASURES.

135    (See #1)

136    SCHOOL SEARCHES OF STUDENTS AND SEIZURES OF THEIR PROPERTY.

137    MEASURES TO ENSURE SCHOOL SAFETY.

138    Creating Safe and Drug-Free Schools: An Action Guide, 1996. SEARCHES FOR WEAPONS AND DRUGS.

139    (See #13)

140    (See # 130)

141    Creating Safe and Drug-Free Schools: An Action Guide, 1996. UNIFORMS.

142    SBHCNet. WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF SBHCs ON PROGRESSION THROUGH AND GRADUATION FROM HIGH SCHOOL?

143    (See #10)

144, 160    Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention, 1999. SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY INTERVENTION TO PREVENT SERIOUS AND VIOLENT OFFENDING.

145    Henggeler SW and Others, 1996. MULTISYSTEMIC THERAPY: AN EFFECTIVE VIOLENCE PREVENTION APPROACH FOR SERIOUS JUVENILE OFFENDERS.

146    (See #2)

147    Cautilli J, Skinner L. COMBATING YOUTH VIOLENCE THROUGH WRAP-AROUND SERVICES.

148    (See #2)

149    (See #18)

150    Stephens RD, Arnette JL, 2000. FROM THE COURTHOUSE TO THE SCHOOLHOUSE: MAKING SUCCESSFUL TRANSITIONS.

151    Jane Nady Sigmon, M. Elaine Nugent, Joh Goerdt, and Scott Wallace, 1999. KEY ELEMENTS OF SUCCESSFUL ADJUDICATION PARTNERSHIPS.

152    Clark JP, 1998. National Association of Social Work. FUNCTIONAL BEHAVIORAL ASSESSMENT AND BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION PLANS: IMPLEMENTING THE STUDENT DISCIPLINE PROVISION OF IDEA '97. A TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE GUIDE FOR SOCIAL WORKERS.

153    RESOURCES ON CRISIS INTERVENTION.

154    School Safety and Violence Prevention Office. CRISIS MANAGEMENT AND RESPONSE.

155    Shatz E. PROGRAMS FOR BEHAVIORALLY DISORDERED CHILDREN AND YOUTH.

156    Fitzsimmons MK, 2000. FUNCTIONAL BEHAVIOR ASSESSMENT AND BEHAVIOUR INTERVENTION PLANS. ERIC/OSEP DIGEST E571.

157    (See #2)

158    (See #1)

159    Youth Justice Education Partnership. SUMMARIES - DELINQUENCY TREATMENT AND INTERVENTION.

160    (See #144)