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Program Profile: The Peacemakers Program

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on August 13, 2013

Program Summary

A school-based violence reduction intervention for grades 4 through 8. The program’s primary objectives were to prevent violence and improve interpersonal behavior among youth. The program is rated Promising. There was a significant decrease in self-reported measures of aggression; an increase in psychosocial skills; a decrease in disciplinary incidents; less involvement in conflict mediation; and fewer suspensions for violent behavior compared with the control group.

Program Description

Program Goals/Target Population
The Peacemakers Program was a school-based violence reduction intervention for grades 4 through 8. The program content was based on studies of psychosocial variables associated with individual differences in aggression, and was influenced by social and developmental psychology research (Shapiro, et al. 2002). The Peacemakers Program had two primary objectives: (1) prevent violence; and (2) improve interpersonal behavior among youth.

Program Components
The Peacemakers Program consisted of a 17-lesson curriculum for teachers and a remediation component for school psychologists and counselors for students referred for aggressive behavior. Each lesson took 45 minutes to conduct and addressed beliefs supporting the acceptability and utility of violent behavior and deficits in conflict-related psychosocial skills. Psychosocial skills taught in the program included anger management, coping with stress, problem solving, perspective-switching, and empathy for other people.

There were a variety of classroom activities including didactic instruction, discussion, use of the Socratic Method, role-plays, and experiential exercises. Emphasis was placed on infusing program content into students’ everyday lives by helping them recognize potentially problematic situations and then recall what they had learned in the program. The goal was to have the principles and strategies of the program become a part of the school’s culture.

The intervention began with several sessions on violence-related attitudes, values, and self-concept issues. Students were taught the Golden Rule (to treat others as you wish to be treated). The purpose of these sessions was to increase the attractiveness of nonviolent behavior and to strengthen student motivation to learn the psychosocial skills taught in the rest of the curriculum. Techniques were taught to reduce impulsivity, strengthen self-regulation of emotions, increase participants’ sensitivity to the effect their behavior had on other people, and to strengthen consequential thinking and flexibility of response to interpersonal problems. Students were instructed on how to avoid conflicts before they begin, how to stand up for themselves without pushing around others, and how to improve their communication skills.

Since the original research, the developer added a 2-session module on bullying prevention, which is integrated into the program as a whole. Other parts of the curriculum were slightly condensed, so the program now includes a total of 18 sessions.

Key Personnel
A Teacher’s Manual was available to teachers delivering the curriculum in their classrooms. The manual provided detailed lesson plans, language that teachers could use to explain concepts to students, key words in the margins for use as lecture notes during sessions, and responses to common student objections to the non-violent behaviors taught throughout the program. A Counselor’s Manual was also designed for school psychologists and counselors who worked with individual students referred for aggressive behavior. This manual provided guidance in the assessment of aggression-related process so that work could focus on the students’ greatest needs.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Aggressive Behavior Checklist (ABC)
Shapiro and colleagues (2002) found significant differences on measures of aggression between the Peacemakers Program group and the control group. The Peacemakers group showed significant decreases in self-reported measures of aggression compared with the control group. Teachers also reported significant decreased scores in students receiving the program compared with students in the control group.

Attitudes toward Guns and Violence
There were no significant differences between the Peacemakers and control groups on self-report measures of attitudes toward guns and violence.

Knowledge of Psychosocial Skills
Students in the program showed a significant increase in knowledge of psychosocial skills compared with control group students.

Disciplinary Incidents
Based on teacher reports on students, the Peacemakers Program was associated with decreased disciplinary incidents involving aggressive behavior. During the three weeks post-intervention, there were disciplinary incidents involving 29 percent of the Peacemakers group compared with 50 percent of the control group (a significant difference).

Conflict Mediation
The teacher reports showed that students participating in the program were involved in the school conflict mediation services significantly less often than students in the control group. During the three weeks post-intervention, there were conflict mediations involving 4 percent of the program group compared with 11 percent of the control group (a significant difference).

Suspensions
The teacher reports also showed that students in the program received significantly fewer suspensions for violent behavior than did students in the control group. Four percent of the Peacemakers group was suspended for fighting during the three weeks post-intervention compared with 12 percent of the control group (a significant difference).
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Peacemakers was evaluated by Shapiro and colleagues (2002) using a quasi-experimental pretest–posttest research design. Three middle schools and the fourth and fifth grades of three elementary schools in a large, Midwestern, urban public school system took part in the study. One middle school and one elementary school served as the control group; this was 29 percent of the study sample. At pretest, half of the total sample was female, 88 percent was African-American, 8 percent was white, 1 percent was Hispanic, and 3 percent was “other.” The sample was 14 percent fourth graders, 14 percent fifth graders, 23 percent sixth graders, 27 percent seventh graders, and 22 percent eighth graders. The intervention and control groups did not differ in age or gender, but did differ significantly in ethnicity. The intervention group was 84 percent African American, while the control group was 96 percent African American. One limitation to the study is that the difference in race/ethnicity between the groups was not controlled for in the analysis.

The program took place over the first semester of the school year. Posttest data was collected during the beginning of the second semester. Three violence-related constructs were assessed through student self-report measures on three scales: Attitudes toward Guns and Violence Questionnaire (AGVQ), Knowledge of Psychosocial Skills, and the Aggressive Behavior Checklist (ABC) (Shapiro, et al. 1997). The AGVQ is a 24-item measure of violence-related attitudes, with some focus on attitude toward handguns. The Knowledge of Psychosocial Skills is a test of knowledge about violence-related psychosocial skills, the content of which mirrored the curriculum. The ABC includes 13 items which depict a range from mild to verbal to severe and physically aggressive behavior. There is a self-report version completed by students (ABC-S) and an observational version completed by teachers (ABC-T), with identical content.

For the self-report data, of the 1,822 students who filled out pretests, data was analyzed on the 672 students who also filled out valid posttests (this represents a high attrition rate of almost 63 percent, another limitation to the study). Attrition was substantial because of the additive nature of factors: students could not be included in the data if they were absent from school or provided invalid responses. The teacher-reported data was affected by teachers who may have been transferred, but not by absences or invalid response, so the data was much less affected by attrition than the self-report data. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to compare changes from pretest to posttest in students in the intervention and control groups. Group (intervention vs. control) was the independent variable, posttest scores were the dependent variable, and pretest scores were the covariate.
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Cost

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The Teacher’s Manual for the Peacemakers Program costs $100.00. Student Handbooks (workbooks) cost $7.00 apiece, and sets of 10 cost $50. The manual and workbooks can be purchased at the Solution Tree Web site: http://archive.solution-tree.com/Public/Media.aspx?ShowDetail=true&ProductID=BKF125
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Implementation Information

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The only required material is the Teacher’s Manual. The program developer highly recommends the use of the Student Handbooks. The program developer provides a 6-hour workshop that equips teachers and other youth-serving professionals with information to implement the program. This training is not required but is also highly recommended by the program developer.
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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
Shapiro, Jeremy P., Joella D. Burgoon, Carolyn J. Welker, and Joseph B. Clough. 2002. “Evaluation of the Peacemakers Program: School-Based Violence Prevention for Students in Grades 4 Through 8.” Psychology in the Schools 39(1):87–100.
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Additional References

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

Shapiro, Jeremy P., Rebekah L. Dorman, William M. Burkey, Carolyn J. Welker, and Joseph B. Clough. 1997. “Development and Factor Analysis of a Measure of Youth Attitudes Toward Guns and Violence.” Journal of Clinical Child Psychology 26(3):311–20.

Shapiro, Jeremy P., Rebekah L. Dorman, Carolyn J. Welker, and Joseph B. Clough. 1998. “Youth Attitudes Toward Guns and Violence: Relations With Sex, Age, Ethnic Group, and Firearm Exposure.” Journal of Clinical Child Psychology 27(1):98–108.
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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

School-Based Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs
Designed to foster the development of five interrelated sets of cognitive, affective, and behavioral competencies, in order to provide a foundation for better adjustment and academic performance in students, which can result in more positive social behaviors, fewer conduct problems, and less emotional distress. The practice was rated Effective in reducing students’ conduct problems and emotional stress.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors - Multiple juvenile problem/at-risk behaviors
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Mental Health & Behavioral Health - Internalizing behavior



Universal School-Based Social Information Processing Interventions for Aggression
School-based violence prevention interventions that target social information-processing difficulties in students, aiming to reduce the aggressive and disruptive behavior of school-aged children. The practice is rated Promising for reducing aggressive behavior in school-aged children.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors - Aggression



Targeted School-Based Social Information-Processing Interventions for Aggression
This practice examines targeted prevention efforts for particular students that attempt to improve one or more aspects of the students’ social information processing, aiming to prevent and/or reduce aggressive or violent behavior in school-aged children. The practice is rated Effective for reducing aggressive behavior in school-aged children.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors - Aggression



Universal School-Based Prevention and Intervention Programs for Aggressive and Disruptive Behavior
Universal school-based prevention and intervention programs for aggressive and disruptive behavior target elementary, middle, and high school students in a universal setting, rather than focusing on only a selective group of students, with the intention of preventing or reducing violent, aggressive, or disruptive behaviors. The practice is rated Effective in reducing violent, aggressive, and/or disruptive behaviors in students.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - More than one Meta-Analysis Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors



School-Based Conflict Resolution Education
This practice aims to reduce school-based conflict and encourage long-term prosocial behavior. It teaches students to understand the nature of the conflict and provides options for responding. This practice is rated Promising for multiple problem or at-risk behaviors. Student participants in the programs reported significantly fewer antisocial behaviors than students in the control group.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors - Multiple juvenile problem/at-risk behaviors
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Program Snapshot

Age: 10 - 14

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, Hispanic, White, Other

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): School

Program Type: Classroom Curricula, Conflict Resolution/Interpersonal Skills, School/Classroom Environment, Violence Prevention

Current Program Status: Not Active

Listed by Other Directories: Model Programs Guide, Promising Practices Network

Program Developer:
Jeremy Shapiro
President
SciArt, Inc.
2669 Belvoir Boulevard
Shaker Heights OH 44122
Phone: 216.292.2710
Email

Training and TA Provider:
Jeremy Shapiro
President
SciArt, Inc.
2669 Belvoir Boulevard
Shaker Heights OH 44122
Phone: 216.292.2710
Email