Ten proven violence prevention programs

A recent survey by the Boulder, Colorado-based Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (CSPV) revealed that 80 percent of programs designed to prevent youth violence have never been tested for effectiveness, according to the center’s director, Delbert Elliot.

In fact, out of more than 500 programs tested by the center in an extensive project called “Blueprints for Violence Prevention,” only ten programs were proven to be effective, while 30 more showed promise, Elliot said.

The object of the extensive testing—funded with help from the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice and the Centers for Disease Control—was to evaluate programs to identify the ones which best “could provide an initial nucleus for a national violence prevention initiative.”

Researchers from the CSPV singled out 10 truly outstanding programs and outlined a series of “blueprints” for each one. The blueprints describe each program’s theoretical rationale, core components, evaluation design and results, and the practical experiences encountered by those who have implemented the program.

The resulting data is meant to provide states, communities, and individual agencies and school districts with the tools to find an appropriate violence-deterrent to fit their needs, provide a cost estimate for start-up, and indicate potential barriers and obstacles to implementation.

The ten programs that exhibited a measurable impact on school violence were:

1. The Midwestern Prevention Project: This program uses active social techniques—such as role-playing, modeling, and discussion—as well as homework assignments to help youth understand and combat the social pressures to use drugs and engage in violent behavior. It works hand-in-hand with a parental program that involves a parent-principal committee to review school drug policy and encourages strong parent-child communication. Students also are provided with a consistent message of non-drug use through mass media programming and coverage, community organizations, and changing local health policy. Costs are estimated be about $175,000 over a three-year period for the training of 20 teachers, 20 parents, and 1,000 participating students. Contact: Mary Ann Pentz, Ph.D., Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Southern California, 3414 Topping Tower, 1441 Eastlake Avenue, MS-44, Los Angeles, CA 90033-0800; phone (323) 865-0330.

2. Functional Family Therapy: This is an outcome-driven prevention and intervention program for youth who have demonstrated delinquency, violence, substance abuse, conduct disorder, and disruptive behavior. First, it attempts to engage students in the program to avoid dropouts; motivate them to change maladaptive emotional reactions and beliefs; increase alliance, trust, and motivation for lasting change; and assess the relationships and systems which affect the students’ responses. The program then attempts to correct behavior and provide family case management. Functional Family Therapy costs between $1,350 and $3,750 for an average of 12 home visits per family over 90 days. Contact: James F. Alexander, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Utah, 390 S. 1530 E, Room 502, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, (801) 581-6538; or Kathleen Shafer, Project Coordinator, (801) 585-1807.

3. Quantum Opportunities Program: This program is designed to serve disadvantaged adolescents by providing education, service, and development activities, as well as financial incentives, over a four-year period, from grade nine to high school graduation. The program requires 250 hours of computer-assisted education and peer tutoring to enhance basic academic skills; 250 hours of development activities, such as cultural enrichment, personal development, life skills, college planning, and job preparation; and 250 hours of service activities, in which students participate in community service projects. Financial rewards are offered for hours worked, in the form of periodic completion bonuses and long-term matching funds. The cost for one student for the four-year period is $10,600, or $2,650 per student per year. Contact: Mr. C. Benjamin Lattimore, Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America, 1415 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122; phone (215) 236-4500, ext. 251; eMail oica@aol.com; web http://www.oica.com/programs.htm.

4. Life Skills Training: LST is a primary intervention program designed to prevent or reduce the use of “gateway drugs,” such as tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana, over a three-year period. The program consists of 15 sessions in the first year, 10 sessions in year two, and five sessions in the third year. Each session helps students learn general self-management skills, social skills, and information and skills specifically related to drug use. This program can be implemented at a cost of $7 per student per year, with an initial $2,000 per day for one or two days to train the instructors. For information about the program or to order curriculum materials, contact the publisher: phone (800) 636-3415 or (609) 921-0540, eMail sabrod@aol.com, web http://www.lifeskillstraining.com.

5. Multisystemic Therapy: This is an intensive family- and community-based treatment that helps deter serious antisocial behavior in adolescents. The program targets chronic, violent, or substance-abusing juvenile offenders. Its major goal is to empower parents with the skills and resources they need to address difficulties in raising teenagers. The program itself costs around $4,500 per youth for about 60 hours of contact over four months. Contact: Scott W. Henggeler, Ph.D., Family Services Research Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, 171 Ashley Avenue, Annex III, Charleston, SC 29425-0742; phone (843) 876-1800.

6. Prenatal and Infancy Home Visitation by Nurses: This program is designed to serve low-income, at-risk pregnant women bearing their first child. Registered nurses visit the mothers’ homes over the course of the pregnancy and for the first two years of the baby’s life. Nurses provide information on how to properly care for babies and toddlers to improve their health and development, and they improve the women’s personal development. The program has been tested among white and African-American families, as well as in rural and urban settings, and across the board the nurse-visited women and children have fewer verified cases of child abuse and neglect, fewer subsequent births, less welfare aid, fewer mothers arrested, fewer adolescents arrested, and fewer occurrences of adolescent alcohol consumption. Costs for the program were recovered by the child’s fourth birthday, according to estimates. The immediate cost for the two-and-a-half year program is estimated at $3,200 per family, per year. Contact: Dr. Narcisa Polonio, Chief Operating Officer, Replication and Program Strategies, 2005 Market Street, Suite 900, Philadelphia, PA 19103; phone (215) 557-4482, web http://www.replication.org.

7.Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care: This program provides an alternative to group or residential treatment, incarceration, or hospitalization for antisocial, disturbed, or delinquent adolescents. Community families go through extensive training to provide these students with treatment and intensive supervision at home, in school, and in the community. The training emphasizes behavior management methods to provide troubled youth with a structured and therapeutic living environment. Family therapy also is provided to the child’s biological family, with the ultimate goal of returning the youth back to his or her parents. The program includes closely supervised home visits, and parents are encouraged to maintain close contact with the child’s case manager. The cost per youth is $2,691 per month, and the average stay is seven months. Contact: Patricia Chamberlain, Ph. D., Clinic Director, Oregon Social Learning Center, 160 E 4th Street, Eugene, OR 97401; phone (541) 485-2711, web http://www.oslc.org/tfc/tfcoslc.html.

8. Bullying Prevention Program: The main purpose of this program is to act as a universal intervention for the reduction or prevention of bullying/victim problems. This is accomplished through administering anonymous questionnaires to assess the nature and prevalence of bullying at each school and holding a conference day to discuss bullying and plan interventions. The program also calls for the formation of a Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee to coordinate all aspects of the school’s efforts. Classroom regulations against bullying are established, and interventions between students identified as bullies and victims are held. Contact: Susan Limber, Ph.D., Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life, Clemson University, 243 Poole Agricultural Center, Clemson, SC 29634; phone (864) 656-6320, eMail slimber@clemson.edu.

9. PATHS—Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies: The PATHS program is designed to promote emotional and social competency, while simultaneously reducing aggression and behavior problems and enhancing the educational process. The PATHS curriculum is taught a minimum of three times per week for 20-30 minutes, and provides teachers with the lesson plans and guidance they need to teach students emotional literacy, self-control, social competence, positive peer relations, and interpersonal problem solving skills. Some skills learned are how to identify and deal with feelings, reduce stress, control impulses, and understand the perspectives of others. Program costs over three years would range from $15 to $45 per student per year. Contact: Mark T. Greenberg, Ph.D., Prevention Research Center, Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University, 110 Henderson Building South, University Park, PA 16802-6504; phone (814) 863-0112, eMail prevention@psu.edu, web http://www.psu.edu/dept/prevention.

10. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America: This time-honored program has been providing adult support and friendship to troubled kids for almost 100 years. A 1991 report showed that more than 70,000 youths and adults were supervised in one-on-one relationships through the program. The agency uses a case-management approach, following each case through until closure. Each case manager carefully screens applicants and finds matches that will benefit both parties. The process includes an orientation, volunteer screening, youth assessment, matching, and supervision of the matched youth and his or her mentor. The national average cost of making and supporting a match is $1,000 per child per year. Contact: Jerry Lapham, 230 North 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107; phone (215) 567-7000, eMail national@bbbsa.org, web http://www.bbbsa.org. n


Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado at Boulder, 900 28th Street, Suite 107, Campus Box 442, Boulder, CO 80309; phone (303) 492-1032, fax (303) 443-3297, eMail Blueprints@colorado.edu, web http://www.colorado.edu/cspv.

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