The Impact of the Good Behavior Game, a Universal Classroom-Based Preventive Intervention in First and Second Grades, on High-Risk Sexual Behaviors and Drug Abuse and Dependence Disorders into Young Adulthood
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The Good Behavior Game (GBG), a method of teacher classroom behavior management, was tested in first- and second-grade classrooms in 19 Baltimore City Public Schools beginning in the 1985–1986 school year. The intervention was directed at the classroom as a whole to socialize children to the student role and reduce aggressive, disruptive behaviors, confirmed antecedents of a profile of externalizing problem outcomes. This article reports on the GBG impact on the courses and interrelationships among aggressive, disruptive behavior through middle school, risky sexual behaviors, and drug abuse and dependence disorders through ages 19–21. In five poor to lower-middle class, mainly African American urban areas, classrooms within matched schools were assigned randomly to either the GBG intervention or the control condition. Balanced assignment of children to classrooms was made, and teachers were randomly assigned to intervention or control. Analyses involved multilevel growth mixture modeling. By young adulthood, significant GBG impact was found in terms of reduced high-risk sexual behaviors and drug abuse and dependence disorders among males who in first grade and through middle school were more aggressive, disruptive. A replication with the next cohort of first-grade children with the same teachers occurred during the following school year, but with minimal teacher mentoring and monitoring. Findings were not significant but generally in the predicted direction. A universal classroom-based prevention intervention in first- and second-grade classrooms can reduce drug abuse and dependence disorders and risky sexual behaviors.