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Awarded Research Grant to Prevent Violence and Violence-Related Injury

RCT of Urban Improv-lntensive, A Youth Violence Prevention Program

FOA Number: CE06-004: Grants for Violence-Related Injury Prevention Research
Project Period: 9/1/2006 – 8/31/2009
Application/Grant Number: 1-R49-CE000968-01
Principal Investigator: van der Kolk, Bessel A.
The Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute
1269 Beacon Street
Brookline, MA 02446


Importance: The aim of this project is to advance the development of a promising new youth violence prevention program, Urban Improved Intensive (UI-I), through a rigorous evaluation of its effectiveness in preventing high risk, young, urban adolescents from engaging in youth physical and sexual violence. This research is critical because UI-I advances the field of youth violence prevention by targeting the root causes of violence, integrating physical and sexual violence prevention for middle school youth, and addressing the violence and trauma to which this population has been exposed.

Objectives: UI-I and this study aim to: 1) Build interpersonal problem-solving skills and empathy, and reduce emotional constriction and the psychological impact of violence exposure; 2) Change youths' beliefs about aggression so that prosocial means of resolving conflict are viewed as acceptable, while violence is viewed as unacceptable;3) Reduce aggressive behaviors and problem behaviors at school, and build general prosocial skills ;and 4) Enhance general classroom climate.

Study Design: We will conduct a randomized, controlled trial of UI-I in order to evaluate its effectiveness at reducing risk factors linked to youth violence and preventing sexual and physical violence perpetration by high-risk youth.

Participants: All students enrolled in 14 selected seventh grade Boston Public School classrooms within a single school district will participate. Based on random assignment, six classrooms (120 students) will receive UI-I and eight(120 students) will serve as controls. Intervention: UI-I is a 24-session program that is based on a clinically informed and empirically supported theater- and action-based violence prevention program integrated with evidence-based intervention components for children exposed to chronic violence or trauma. Initial pilots of UI-I have supported its feasibility and positive effect on youth.

Outcome Measures: Psychometrically sound student-and teacher-report measures as well as a school based Behavioral tracking system of students' disciplinary actions, attendance, and grades, will be used to Asses study aims and hypotheses.