Additional Resources:

Practice Profile

Universal School-Based Prevention and Intervention Programs for Aggressive and Disruptive Behavior

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:

Effective - More than one Meta-Analysis Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors

Practice Description

Practice Goals/Target Population
Universal school-based prevention and intervention programs for aggressive and disruptive behavior target elementary, middle, and high school students with the intention of preventing or reducing violent, aggressive, or disruptive behaviors. Universal programs are delivered in general classroom settings to all the students in the class, rather than only selected students considered at risk or in need of program services. Students are taught different skills and coping mechanisms to reduce violent, aggressive, or disruptive behavior.
Practice Components
There are a number of school-based intervention modalities that focus on reducing aggressive or disruptive behavior of students, including cognitively oriented strategies, social skills training, behavioral strategies, counseling (group, individual, and family), anger management programs, and social problem-solving programs (Wilson and Lipsey 2007). Intervention components also include

  • Conflict resolution
  • Skills training
  • Parent training and support
  • Character building
  • School environment modifications
  • Empathy training
  • Impulse control (Park-Higgerson et al. 2008)
Other universal school-based programs teach students topics and skills such as emotional self-awareness, emotional control, self-esteem, positive social skills, social problem solving, conflict resolution, and teamwork (Hahn et al. 2007). In addition to the classroom components, many of these intervention modalities use multi-approach methods in which parents, peers, or community members are involved in the intervention (Park-Higgerson et al. 2008).
Key Personnel
Typically, school-based interventions are taught by the classroom teachers, but some programs can also be taught by program specialists who are independent from school personnel.

Meta-Analysis Outcomes

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Effective - More than one Meta-Analysis Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors
Wilson and Lipsey (2007) analyzed effect sizes from 77 studies and found that universal school-based programs had a significant effect on aggressive/disruptive behaviors in treatment students (mean effect size=0.21). This means that the programs led to 25 percent reduction in aggressive/disruptive behavior of students. Park-Higgerson and colleagues (2008) analyzed effect sizes from seven randomized controlled studies and found that universal school-based interventions reduced violent behavior in treatment students; however this effect was not statistically significant.
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Meta-Analysis Methodology

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Meta-Analysis Snapshot
 Literature Coverage DatesNumber of StudiesNumber of Study Participants
Meta-Analysis 11970 - 2006770
Meta-Analysis 21996 - 200470

Meta-Analysis 1
Wilson and Lipsey (2007) analyzed 249 studies, published in 1960 or later, of school-based prevention programs and their effects on students' aggressive and disruptive behaviors. Eligible studies had to be reported in English; involve a school-based program for youth in pre–K through 12th grade; assess effects on at least one outcome related to aggressive, violent, or disruptive behaviors; and use at least one quasi-experimental design with either random assignment to conditions or reported initial equivalence.
Included studies came from journals (61 percent), dissertations or theses (30 percent), and other unpublished work (9 percent). Study participants were boys and girls predominantly ages 6–10 (43 percent), and ethnicities included white (33 percent), black (25 percent), Hispanic (8 percent), other (2 percent), and mixed (4 percent). No information on the number of students in the treatment and control groups was reported. While various intervention formats were analyzed separately, the focus of this review was on 77 studies that examined universal programs.
Authors reported the effect size as a standardized mean difference with 95 percent confidence intervals. The inverse variance weights were computed using the subject-level sample size for each effect. Only one effect size from each subject sample was used in the analysis. Authors used a random effects analysis.

Meta-Analysis 2
Park-Higgerson and colleagues (2008) analyzed 26 studies of school-based intervention programs on outcomes of aggressive and violent behaviors with students from grades 1–12. All of the studies used randomized controlled designs and were published between 1970 and 2004.
To be included, studies had to involve school-based programs designed to prevent aggression or violence in children and adolescents by providing education, improving social skills, or changing the environment; had to include students enrolled in grades 1–11; had to use a randomized assignment procedure for treatment and control groups; and had to examine aggression or violent behavior measures that were reported with necessary statistical information to measure effect. No demographic information was provided for students in the analyzed studies. Authors analyzed studies on five program characteristics related to program success: 1) the application of theory, 2) universal or selective programming, 3) single- or multiple-approach intervention, 4) characteristics of target population, and 5) type of instructor. For this review, the focus was on the seven studies that examined universal programs.
The overall effect size was calculated for the full sample. Pooled results were expressed as standardized mean differences with 95 percent confidence intervals. The analysis makes no mention of weighting.
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There is no cost information available for this practice.
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Evidence-Base (Meta-Analyses Reviewed)

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

Meta-Analysis 1
Wilson, Sandra Jo, and Mark Lipsey. 2007. "School-Based Interventions for Aggressive and Disruptive Behavior: Update of a Meta-Analysis." American Journal of Preventive Medicine 33(2 Suppl):S130–43.

Meta-Analysis 2
Park-Higgerson, Hyoun-Kyoung, Suzanne E. Perumean-Chaney, Alfred A. Bartolucci, Diane M. Grimley, and Karan P. Singh. 2008. "The Evaluation of School-Based Violence Prevention Programs: A Meta-Analysis." Journal of School Health 78(9): 465–79.
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Additional References

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

Hahn, Robert, Dawna Fuqua-Whitley, Holly Wethington, Jessica Lowy, Alex Crosby, Mindy Fullilove, Robert Johnson, Akiva Leiberman, Eve Moscicki, LeShawndra Price, Susan Snyder, Farris Tuma, Stella Cory, Glenda Stone, Kaushik Mukhopadhaya, Sajal Chattopadhyay, and Linda Dahlberg. 2007. "Effectiveness of Universal School-Based Programs to Prevent Violent and Aggressive Behavior: A Systematic Review." American Journal of Preventative Medicine 33(2S):S114–29. (This study was reviewed but did not meet CrimeSolutions criteria for inclusion in the overall practice rating.)
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Related Programs

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Following are programs that are related to this practice:

PeaceBuilders Promising - One study
A school-based violence prevention program designed to reduce aggression and improve social competence. The program is rated Promising. The intervention group showed improved social competence and less aggressive behavior.

The Leadership Program’s Violence Prevention Project Promising - One study
A school-based prevention program, targeting 12 and 16 year olds, designed to prevent violence by enhancing conflict-resolution skills. The program is rated Promising. At follow-up, participants were using more pro-social verbal skills and had positive growth rates of peer support. Students not receiving the curriculum grew more accepting of aggression over time, while program participants maintained aggression tolerance levels.

Responding in Peaceful and Positive Ways (RIPP) Promising - One study
A school-based program designed to provide conflict-resolution strategies and skills to prevent violence to students in middle and junior high schools. The program is rated Promising. The experiment group had less disciplinary code violations related to violence in the 8th grade, showed significantly higher approval of nonviolence, and lower aggression at the 9-month follow-up.

Good Behavior Game Effective - More than one study
A classroom management strategy for children ages 6 to 10 designed to improve aggressive and disruptive classroom behavior and prevent later criminality. The program is rated Effective. The analysis showed males with higher levels of aggression at first grade, but there were increasing and significant effects at sixth grade. Findings also include reduced rates of externalizing behavior and more peer acceptance.

Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT) Effective - One study
The program is designed to prevent the development of aggressive and antisocial behaviors in elementary children. The program is rated Effective. The intervention group showed less child physical aggression, a reduction in substance use initiation; and although the entire sample showed significant mean increases in substance use growth over time, the intervention slowed down the rate.

Second Step®: A Violence Prevention Curriculum for Elementary School (2002 Edition) Effective - More than one study
A prevention program designed to reduce impulsive and aggressive behavior in children and adolescents by increasing their social competency skills. The program is rated Effective. The intervention group showed significant gains in social competence at varying times. There were improvements among students in measures of anxiety. Girls appeared to have higher scores for some behavioral measures and sixth grade boys had a decrease in externalizing problem behaviors.

Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (New York City) Promising - One study
A universal, school-based intervention for elementary students that promotes violence prevention as well as positive social and emotional learning. The program is rated Promising. The evaluation found higher levels of classroom instruction improved children's social-cognitive processes, reduced behavioral issues and decreased teacher's perceptions of youth problem behavior.

All Stars™ No Effects - One study
All Stars™ is a character-based approach to preventing high-risk behaviors such as substance use, violence, and premature sexual activity in teens ages 11 to 15. The program is rated No Effects. The program evaluation found no statistical significance between the control and experiment group for violence, substance abuse or sexual activity.

The Peacemakers Program Promising - One study
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.

Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers Promising - More than one study
A school-based conflict resolution program aimed at teaching students to manage their conflicts through negotiation and mediation. The Program is rated Promising. Across all three studies, the program was found to increase students’ conflict resolution skills through their ability to practice both negotiation and mediation strategies.

The GREAT School Program No Effects - One study
A school-based intervention to promote problem-solving skills, self-efficacy for nonviolence, and goals and strategies supporting nonviolence. The program is rated No Effects. The program was shown to have no effect on measures of aggression and nonviolent behaviors.

Kids in Transition to School (KITS) Promising - More than one study
This is a short-term intervention program designed to assess children in transition to kindergarten. The goal of the program is to increase school-readiness and to develop early literacy and social and self-regulation skills. The program is rated Promising. The intervention group displayed significantly lower levels of oppositional and aggressive behavior as well as significantly higher levels of self-regulation.

Behavioral, Emotional, and Social Training: Competent Learners Achieving School Success (BEST in CLASS) Effective - One study
A classroom-based intervention, delivered by teachers, designed to prevent emotional and behavioral disorders in high-risk children. The program is rated Effective. Intervention group children showed statistically significant improvement in behaviors, social and behavioral competence, and student-teacher relationships, compared with control group children. Intervention group teachers showed statistically significant improvements in instructional practices, compared with control group teachers.
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Practice Snapshot

Age: 6 - 18

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, Hispanic, Other, White

Settings: School

Practice Type: Classroom Curricula, Cognitive Behavioral Treatment, Conflict Resolution/Interpersonal Skills, Parent Training, School/Classroom Environment, Violence Prevention

Unit of Analysis: Persons

Sandra Jo Wilson
Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies
1207 18th Ave. South
Nashville TN 37212