Prevention Science

, 9:231 | Cite as

The Multisite Violence Prevention Project: Impact of a Universal School-Based Violence Prevention Program on Social-Cognitive Outcomes

  • The Multisite Violence Prevention Project


This study evaluated the impact of a universal school-based violence prevention program on social-cognitive factors associated with aggression and nonviolent behavior in early adolescence. The effects of the universal intervention were evaluated within the context of a design in which two cohorts of students at 37 schools from four sites (N = 5,581) were randomized to four conditions: (a) a universal intervention that involved implementing a student curriculum and teacher training with sixth grade students and teachers; (b) a selective intervention in which a family intervention was implemented with a subset of sixth grade students exhibiting high levels of aggression and social influence; (c) a combined intervention condition; and (d) a no-intervention control condition. Short-term and long-term (i.e., 2-year post-intervention) universal intervention effects on social-cognitive factors targeted by the intervention varied as a function of students’ pre-intervention level of risk. High-risk students benefited from the intervention in terms of decreases in beliefs and attitudes supporting aggression, and increases in self-efficacy, beliefs and attitudes supporting nonviolent behavior. Effects on low-risk students were in the opposite direction. The differential pattern of intervention effects for low- and high-risk students may account for the absence of main effects in many previous evaluations of universal interventions for middle school youth. These findings have important research and policy implications for efforts to develop effective violence prevention programs.


Aggression Violence prevention Middle school Adolescent problem behavior Social-cognitive 



This study was funded by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC Cooperative Agreements U81/CCU417759 (Duke University), U81/CCU517816 (University of Chicago, Illinois), U81/CCU417778 (The University of Georgia), and U81/CCU317633 (Virginia Commonwealth University). The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


  1. Aber, J. L., Jones, S. M., Brown, J. L., Chaudry, N., & Samples, F. (1998). Resolving conflict creatively: Evaluating the developmental effects of a school-based violence prevention program in neighborhood and classroom context. Development and Psychopathology, 10, 187–213. doi: 10.1017/S0954579498001576.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boxer, P., & Dubow, E. F. (2002). A social-cognitive information-processing model for school-based aggression reduction and prevention programs: Issues for research and practice. Applied & Preventive Psychology, 10, 177–192. doi: 10.1016/S0962-1849(01)80013-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boxer, P., Goldstein, S. E., Musher-Eizenmann, D., Dubow, E. F., & Heretick, D. (2005a). Developmental issues in school-based aggression prevention from a social-cognitive perspective. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 26, 383–400. doi: 10.1007/s10935-005-0005-9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boxer, P., Guerra, N. G., Huesmann, L. R., & Morales, J. (2005b). Proximal peer-level effects of a small-group selected prevention on aggression in elementary school children: An investigation of the peer contagion hypothesis. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 33, 325–338. doi: 10.1007/s10802-005-3568-2.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  6. Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group (1999). Initial impact of the Fast Track prevention trial for conduct problems: II. Classroom effects. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67, 648–657. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.67.5.648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group (2007). The Fast Track randomized controlled trial to prevent externalizing psychiatric disorders: Findings from grades 3 to 9. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 46, 1250–1262. doi: 10.1097/chi.0b013e31813e5d39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cook, P. J., & Ludwig, J. (2006). Assigning youths to minimize total harm. In K. A. Dodge, T. J. Dishion, & J. E. Lansford (Eds.), Deviant peer influences in programs for youth (pp. 67–89). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  9. Crick, N. R., & Dodge, K. A. (1994). A review and reformulation of social information-processing mechanisms in children’s social adjustment. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 74–101. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.115.1.74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Crockett, L., & Petersen, A. (1993). Adolescent development: Health risks and opportunities for health promotion. In S. Millstein, A. Petersen, & E. Nightengale (Eds.), Promoting the health of adolescents (pp. 13–37). New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  11. Dahlberg, L. L., & Potter, L. B. (2001). Youth violence: Developmental pathways and prevention challenges. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 20(Suppl. 1), 3–30. doi: 10.1016/S0749-3797(00)00268-3.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dodge, K. A., Lansford, J. E., & Dishion, T. J. (2006). The problem of deviant peer influences in intervention programs. In K. A. Dodge, T. J. Dishion, & J. E. Lansford (Eds.), Deviant peer influences in programs for youth: Problems and solutions (pp. 3–13). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  13. Farrell, A. D., & Camou, S. (2006). School-based interventions for youth violence prevention. In J. Lutzker (Ed.), Preventing violence: Research and evidence-based intervention strategies (pp. 125–145). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Farrell, A. D., Meyer, A. L., Kung, E. M., & Sullivan, T. N. (2001a). Development and evaluation of school-based violence prevention programs. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 30, 207–220. doi: 10.1207/S15374424JCCP3002_8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Farrell, A. D., Meyer, A. L., Sullivan, T. N., & Kung, E. M. (2003a). Evaluation of the Responding in Peaceful and Positive Ways (RIPP) seventh grade violence prevention curriculum. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 12, 101–120. doi: 10.1023/A:1021314327308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Farrell, A. D., Meyer, A. L., & White, K. S. (2001b). Evaluation of Responding in Peaceful and Positive Ways (RIPP): A school-based prevention program for reducing violence among urban adolescents. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 30, 451–463. doi: 10.1207/S15374424JCCP3004_02.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Farrell, A. D., Valois, R., & Meyer, A. L. (2002). Evaluation of the RIPP-6 violence prevention program at a rural middle school. American Journal of Health Education, 33, 167–172.Google Scholar
  18. Farrell, A. D., Valois, R. F., Meyer, A. L., & Tidwell, R. (2003b). Impact of the RIPP violence prevention program on rural middle school students. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 24, 143–167. doi: 10.1023/A:1025992328395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Farrell, A. D., & Vulin-Reynolds, M. (2007). Violent behavior and the science of prevention. In D. Flannery, A. Vazonsyi, & I. Waldman (Eds.), Cambridge handbook of violent behavior (pp. 766–786). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Hahn, R., Fuqua-Whitley, D., Wethington, H., Lowy, J., Liberman, A., Crosby, A., et al. (2007). The effectiveness of universal school-based programs for the prevention of violent and aggressive behavior. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 56(No. RR-7), 1–11.Google Scholar
  21. Henry, D. B., Cartland, J., Ruchross, H., & Monahan, K. (2004a). A return potential measure of setting norms for aggression. American Journal of Community Psychology, 33, 131–149. doi: 10.1023/B:AJCP.0000027001.71205.dd.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Henry, D. B., Farrell, A. D., & The Multisite Violence Prevention Project (2004b). The study designed by a committee: Design of the Multisite Violence Prevention Project. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 26(1S), 12–19. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2003.09.027.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Henry, D. B., Guerra, N. G., Huesmann, L. R., Tolan, P. H., VanAcker, R., & Eron, L. D. (2000). Normative influences on aggression in urban elementary school classrooms. American Journal of Community Psychology, 28, 59–81. doi: 10.1023/A:1005142429725.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hopmeyer, A., & Asher, S. R. (1997). Children’s responses to two types of peer conflict situations. Symposium presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  25. Huesmann, L. R. (1988). An information-processing model for the development of aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 14, 13–24. doi: 10.1002/1098-2337(1988)14:1<13::AID-AB2480140104>3.0.CO;2-J.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Huesmann, L. R., & Guerra, N. G. (1997). Children’s normative beliefs about aggression and aggressive behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 408–419. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.72.2.408.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ialongo, N. S., Werthamer, L., Kellam, S. G., Brown, C. H., Wang, S., & Lin, Y. (1999). Proximal impact of two first-grade preventive interventions on the early risk behaviors for later substance abuse, depression, and antisocial behavior. American Journal of Community Psychology, 27, 599–641. doi: 10.1023/A:1022137920532.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. MacKinnon, D. P., & Lockwood, C. M. (2003). Advances in statistical methods for substance abuse prevention research. Prevention Science, 4, 155–171. doi: 10.1023/A:1024649822872.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Metropolitan Area Child Study Research Group (2002). A cognitive-ecological approach to preventing aggression in urban settings: Initial outcomes for high risk children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70, 179–194. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.70.1.179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Metropolitan Area Child Study Research Group (2007). Changing the way children “think” about aggression: Social-cognitive effects of a preventive intervention. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 75, 160–167. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.75.1.160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Meyer, A. L., Allison, K. W., Reese, L. E., Gay, F. N., & Multisite Violence Prevention Project (2004). Choosing to be violence free in middle school: The student component of the GREAT Schools and Families universal program. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 26(1S), 20–28. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2003.09.014.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Meyer, A. L., Farrell, A. D., Northup, W. B., Kung, E. M., & Plybon, L. (2000). Promoting nonviolence in early adolescence: Responding in Peaceful and Positive Ways. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Academic.Google Scholar
  33. Miller-Johnson, S., Sullivan, T. N., Simon, T. R., & The Multi-Site Violence Prevention Project (2004). Evaluating the impact of interventions in the Multi-Site Violence Prevention Project: Samples procedures, and measures. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 26(1S), 48–61.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Multisite Violence Prevention Project (2004). The Multisite Violence Prevention Project: Background and overview. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 26(1S), 3–11. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2003.09.017.Google Scholar
  35. Ngwe, J. E., Liu, L. C., Flay, B. R., Segawa, E., & Aban Aya Coinvestigators (2004). Violence prevention among African American adolescent males. American Journal of Health Behavior, 28(Suppl 1), S24–S37.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Orpinas, P., Horne, A. M., & Multisite Violence Prevention Program (2004). A teacher-focused approached to prevent and reduce students’ aggressive behavior: The GREAT Teacher Program. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 26(1S), 29–38. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2003.09.016.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Orpinas, P., Parcel, G. S., McAlister, A., & Frankowski, R. (1995). Violence prevention in middle schools: A pilot evaluation. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 17, 360–371. doi: 10.1016/1054-139X(95)00194-W.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Reynolds, C. R., & Kamphaus, R. W. (1992). Behavior assessment system for children. Circle Pines MN: American Guidance Service.Google Scholar
  39. Rutter, M. (1990). Psychosocial resilience and protective mechanisms. In J. Rolf, A. S. Masten, D. Cicchetti, K. H. Nuechterlein, & S. Weintraub (Eds.), Risk and protective factors in the development of psychopathology (pp. 181–214). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  40. SAS Institute Inc. (2004). What’s new in SAS 9.0, 9.1, 9.1.2, and 9.1.3. Cary, NC: Author.Google Scholar
  41. Segawa, E., Ngwe, J. E., Li, Y., Flay, B. R., & Aban Aya Coinvestigators (2005). Evaluation of the effects of the Aban Aya Youth Project in reducing violence among African American adolescent males using latent class growth mixture modeling techniques. Evaluation Review, 29, 128–148. doi: 10.1177/0193841X04271095.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Silver, R. B., & Eddy, J. M. (2006). Research-based prevention programs and practices for delivery in schools that decrease the risk of deviant peer influence. In K. A. Dodge, T. J. Dishion, & J. E. Lansford (Eds.), Deviant peer influences in programs for youth: Problems and solutions (pp. 253–277). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  43. Skroban, S. B., Gottfredson, D. C., & Gottfredson, G. D. (1999). A school-based social competency promotion demonstration. Evaluation Review, 23, 3–27.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Smith, E. P., Gorman-Smith, D., Quinn, W., Rabiner, D., Tolan, P., Winn, D.-M., & The Multisite Violence Prevention Project (2004). Community-based multiple family groups to prevent and reduce violent and aggressive behavior: The GREAT families program. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 26(1S), 39–47. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2003.09.018.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Tolan, P. H., Guerra, N. G., & Kendall, P. (1995). A developmental-ecological perspective on antisocial behavior in children and adolescents: Toward a unified risk and intervention framework. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63, 579–584. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.63.4.579.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tolan, P. H., & Henry, D. (1996). Patterns of psychopathology among urban poor children: Comorbidity and aggression effects. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64, 1094–1099. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.64.5.1094.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. US Department of Health and Human Services (2001). Youth violence: A report of the surgeon general. Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  48. Wilson, S. J., Lipsey, M. W., & Derzon, J. H. (2003). The effects of school-based intervention programs on aggressive behavior: A meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71, 136–149. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.71.1.136.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • The Multisite Violence Prevention Project

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations