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Program Profile: Aggression Replacement Training (ART) for Adolescents in a Runaway Shelter

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on July 09, 2012

Program Summary

A program that targets adolescents who live in a short-term facility (a runaway shelter) and exhibit signs of antisocial behavior problems (ASB). The program combines anger-control training, social skills training, and moral reasoning. The program is rated Promising. There was a 20 percent reduction in the rate of ASB incidents per client every week and a statistically significant reduction of 1.1 ASB incident per day.

Program Description

Program Goals
The Aggression Replacement Training (ART) program combines anger-control training, social skills training, and moral reasoning education that is designed to alter the behavior of chronically aggressive adolescents with antisocial behavior (ASB) problems. The goal of the program is to reduce aggression and violence among youth by providing them with opportunities to learn prosocial skills, control angry impulses, and appreciate the perspectives of others.

Target Population
The condensed ART curriculum was targeted at adolescents who were temporarily living in a short-term residential facility (a runaway shelter) and had exhibited signs of ASB. Youth in runaway shelters are typically at high risk of having been exposed to violence, and there is an association between childhood violence exposure and ASB problems seen in adolescents (Wilson, Stover, and Berkowitz 2009).

Program Theory
The program relied on repetitive learning and transfer training techniques to teach participants to control impulsiveness and anger so they could choose to use more appropriate prosocial behaviors. In addition, guided group discussion was used to correct antisocial thinking.

Program Components
The ART program is usually implemented over a period of 10 to 24 weeks. However, the program was condensed into 15-days and delivered to adolescents over a 21-day time period. The adolescents were living in a runaway shelter and showed signs of ASB problems, which included: violations of the rules of the shelter, violations of legal or social norms, violations of another person’s personal property, and aggression toward another person’s physical or emotion well-being. The condensed version of the ART program included the anger-control training and social skills training components of the regular curriculum, but did not include any of the moral reasoning education.

All adolescents living in the runaway shelter participated in one skills-training group each day, with group meetings lasting between 1 and 1½ hours. Group leaders relied on specific chapters from the treatment manuals from Goldstein and Glick (1987) to implement the condensed curriculum. The 15-day sequences of group topics included anger arousal, self-recognition of anger and the use of anger reduction, anger triggers, how to express a complaint, the use of self-instruction, how to resist group pressure, self-evaluation, consequential thinking, how to respond to the anger of others, the angry behavior cycle, how to keep out of fights, rehearsal of the gull anger-control skill set, how to deal with an accusation, empathy, and a review of all the skills taught.

Groups sizes ranged from about 7 to 10 adolescents, and the group leaders were staff of the shelter that had been trained to conduct the condensed ART curriculum.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Daily Rate of ASB Incidents

The interrupted time series analysis conducted by Nugent, Bruley, and Allen (1998) found a 20 percent reduction in the rate of antisocial behavior (ASB) incidents per client every week. The pretreatment daily rate of ASB was about 0.50, which translates to about one ASB incident per client every 2 days or about 3.5 incidents per client every week. Implementation of the condensed Aggression Replacement Training (ART) program was associated with a statistically significant decrease in the daily rate of ASB to about 2.8 incidents per client every week.

Number of ASB Incidents
The pretreatment average number of ASB incidents per day was about 6.4. During the treatment phase, the average daily number of ASB incidents was about 5.3, meaning the implementation of the ART program was associated with a statistically significant reduction of about 1.1 ASB incidents per day. This reduction represents a decrease in the average number of daily ASB incidents of about 17.2 percent.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Nugent, Bruley, and Allen (1998) examined the effectiveness of a condensed version of the Aggression Replacement Training (ART) program on the antisocial behavior (ASB) of adolescents living in a runaway shelter in which the average length of stay was about 3 weeks. Data on ASB incidents at the facility was gathered over a period of 519 days, using a convenience sample of 522 adolescents. The sample of adolescents had an average age of 14.9 years. Over the course of the study period, there was a daily mean number of 13 adolescents in the facility. The mean number of boys each day was 7.3 and the daily mean number of girls was 5.7. About 77 percent of the adolescents were white, 18.4 percent were African American, 2.5 percent were Latino, 0.4 percent were Asian, and the remainder were from other minority groups.

There were two primary outcome measures of interest: the daily rate of ASB of adolescents residing in the shelter and the daily number of ASB incidents of adolescent in the shelter. An ASB incident was defined as any behavior recorded in a resident adolescent’s case file that would be considered to be: (1) a violation of rules and/or behavioral guidelines of the shelter; (2) a violation of legal or social norms; (3) a violation of another person’s personal property; or (4) aggression toward another person’s physical or emotional well-being. The daily rate of ASB was defined as the number of ASB incidents per resident adolescent on a given day. The daily number of ASB incidents was defined as the total number of ASB incidents occurring on a given day. The daily rate index takes into account the number of adolescents in the shelter, whereas the daily number does not.

The study used an interrupted time series design. The design used the pretreatment daily measures of ASB as a control to compare the subsequent daily measures obtained during treatment. Data on adolescents’ ASB was collected for a 310-day period (about 10 months) before implementation of the abbreviated ART curriculum. Data was then collected for a 209-day period (about 7 months) after the program was implemented.

The study used autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) time series analysis procedures to test the effect of implementing the program in the shelter. There were two hypotheses tested: (1) there will be a decrease in the daily rate of ASB of adolescents in the shelter concomitant with the implementation of the ART program; and (2) there will be a decrease in the daily number of ASB incidents of adolescent in the shelter concomitant with the implementation of the ART program. Both hypotheses were tested in on-tailed statistical significance tests.

However, there are several methodological limitations to this approach. First, since the study did not use an experimental design, inferences of causality must be made with caution because some threats to internal validity were not controlled. For example, it is possible that shelter staff may have unknowingly changed their definitions of ASB during the ART phase of the study because they were taught how to conduct the program shortly before it was implemented. The knowledge gained during the ART training may have altered staff members’ definition and perception of ASB incidents. In addition, there were a number of variables representing the daily environment of the shelter (such as the number of boys and girls living in the shelter) that were omitted from the study. It is possible these dynamic factors may have influenced the daily rates and numbers of ASB incidents in the shelter.
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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Implementation Information

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For the condensed version of Aggression Replacement Training (ART), staff at the short-term residential facility (runaway shelter) were specifically trained to conduct ART group sessions by the main author of the study (Nugent, Bruley, and Allen, 1998).
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Nugent, William R., Charlene Bruley, and Patricia Allen. 1998. “The Effects of Aggression Replacement Training on Antisocial Behavior in a Runaway Shelter.” Research on Social Work Practice 8(6):636–56.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Goldstein, A. and B. Glick. 1987. Aggression Replacement Training. Champaign, IL: Research Press.

Nugent, William R., Charlene Bruley, and Patricia Allen. 1999. “The Effects of Aggression Replacement Training on Male and Female Antisocial Behavior in a Runaway Shelter.” Research on Social Work Practice 9(4):466–82.

Wilson, Helen W., Carla Smith Stover, and Steven K. Berkowitz. 2009. “Research Review: The Relationship Between Childhood Violence Exposure and Juvenile Antisocial Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review.” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 50(7):769–79.
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Program Snapshot

Age: 11 - 17

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, White, Other

Geography: Suburban

Setting (Delivery): Residential (group home, shelter care, nonsecure)

Program Type: Conflict Resolution/Interpersonal Skills, Group Therapy, Shelter Care, Victim Programs, Children Exposed to Violence

Targeted Population: Status Offenders, Children Exposed to Violence

Current Program Status: Not Active

Listed by Other Directories: Child Exposure to Violence Evidence Based Guide, Model Programs Guide