Awarded Cooperative Agreement to Prevent Violence and Violence-Related Injury
CDC is testing a violence prevention project in 37 middle schools in four states. Each project will teach conflict resolution and problem solving skills to students, train teachers about violence prevention, and engage family members in program activities. This project is the largest to date to assess the effectiveness of school-based violence prevention among middle school students. It is affiliated with Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Illinois – Chicago, University of Georgia, and Duke University.
The primary objective of this study is to assess the effectiveness of several promising middle -school and family-based interventions designed to promote prosocial behavior and thereby discourage aggressive and violent behavior. This multisite, multi-component intervention was designed to address a major scientific question regarding reducing school violence: Are greater reductions in school violence found when a general violence prevention program is implemented with all students in a given grade or when an intervention is targeted at those youth who are at greatest risk for involvement in violence (i.e., those already participating in high rates of aggressive behavior) or are both types of intervention needed? The evaluation will determine the effectiveness of these interventions both alone and in combination with one another. The universal intervention will be implemented with all students and teachers in a particular grade, while the targeted intervention focuses on youth at greater risk for aggressive and violent behavior and their families. The intervention has two components, one a social-cognitive curriculum for students, and the other an educational program for teachers. Social-cognitive skills have been viewed as important ones in preventing bullying, violence, and aggression. The conceptual framework underlying this approach is that students who know, value, and utilize prosocial and peaceful means of conflict resolution are less likely to be involved in aggressive and violent behavior. The student curriculum incorporates 22 sessions to be taught in classrooms, typically in 50-minute sessions over the course of the school year. Topics include social cognitive problem-solving, perspective-taking, listening, friendship, managing conflict, problem solving in the family and community, goal-setting, and citizenship. The experiential component is integrated and includes trust-building activities, non-competitive games, small group work, role-playing, journal writing, and guided discussions using story lines from local and national news that help students to avoid violence and promote a peaceful society. The programming for teachers is designed to reduce tolerance of aggression and bullying in the classroom and to improve teacher management of such behavior. The curriculum promotes teacher awareness of bullying aggression, intervention strategies for bullying, assistance to victims, and teacher coping skills. Teachers in the program participate in 12 hours of training over the course of a two-day workshop or during several after school workshop sessions. Teacher support groups are also an integral part of the program. Both the student and teacher components are based on the work of earlier promising prevention approaches.