Preventing Youth Violence and Delinquency through a Universal School-Based Prevention Approach

Abstract

Violence is an important public health problem among adolescents in the United States. Substance use and violence tend to co-occur among adolescents and appear to have similar etiologies. The present study examined the extent to which a comprehensive prevention approach targeting an array of individual-level risk and protective factors and previously found effective in preventing tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use is capable of decreasing violence and delinquency. Schools (N=41) were randomly assigned to intervention and control conditions. Participants in the 20 intervention schools received the Life Skills Training prevention program including material focusing on violence and the media, anger management, and conflict resolution skills. Survey data were collected from 4,858 sixth grade students prior to the intervention and three months later after the intervention. Findings showed significant reductions in violence and delinquency for intervention participants relative to controls. Stronger prevention effects were found for students who received at least half of the preventive intervention. These effects include less verbal and physical aggression, fighting, and delinquency. The results of this study indicate that a school-based prevention approach previously found to prevent tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use can also prevent violence and delinquency.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by grants DA08905 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health. Dr. Botvin has a financial interest in the Life Skills Training (LST) program and his consulting company, National Health Promotion Associates (NHPA), provides teacher training and technical assistance for LST. Dr. Kenneth W. Griffin is a consultant to NHPA.

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Correspondence to Gilbert J. Botvin.

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Botvin, G.J., Griffin, K.W. & Nichols, T.D. Preventing Youth Violence and Delinquency through a Universal School-Based Prevention Approach. Prev Sci 7, 403–408 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-006-0057-y

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Keywords:

  • Adolescence
  • Violence
  • Aggression
  • Prevention
  • Substance use