Youth Violence Interventions
Violence Prevention Curricula for Adolescents
Violence is more common in grades 6 through
8 than in grades 9 through 12, but the consequences of violence are more serious
in the higher grades. Unfortunately, violence prevention curricula targeting older
adolescents (age 15 and older) have not been found to be particularly effective
because behavior patterns are already well-entrenched by the ninth or tenth grade
More recent efforts have been directed at younger age groups. To be effective, violence
prevention education should be initiated at an early age, when the childs
behavior is more malleable, and continued throughout adolescence.
Conflict resolution and violence prevention
curricula are designed to improve students social, problem solving, and anger
management skills, promote beliefs favorable to nonviolence, and increase knowledge
about conflict and violence (Brewer 1995).
These programs differ from social competence
curricula such as Interpersonal Cognitive Problem Solving in that they are specifically
designed to reduce interpersonal conflict and violence. Few of these curricula have
been evaluated in controlled studies, and those that have been evaluated have yielded
mixed results. Four studies that assessed students aggressive or violent behavior
found modest evidence of program impact (Bretherton 1993, Hammond 1991, Marvel 1993,
Webster 1993) primarily by improving self-reported violent behavior. However,
none of the programs has achieved significant changes in attitudes towards violence,
and none has reported reduced rates of serious interpersonal violence.
One program, The Second Step violence prevention
curriculum developed by the Committee for Children in Seattle, has been rigorously
evaluated. In a large randomized controlled trial, Grossman et al. (1996) found that the curriculum decreased physically aggressive
and negative behavior in second and third grade children. The duration of this effect,
and its implications for violent behavior in later life, are unknown.