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Program Profile: The Leadership Program’s Violence Prevention Project

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on June 09, 2011

Program Summary

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.

Program Description

Program Goals/Target Population
The main goal of the Leadership Program’s Violence Prevention Project (VPP) is to prevent violence by enhancing the conflict-resolution skills of both male and female middle and high school students aged 12 to 16. This is accomplished primarily by working on student communication and relationship-building skills. VPP’s other goals are to address the social setting in which violence occurs and to improve academic performance. Students’ tolerance for aggression and violence is lowered by targeting the classroom environment and teaching students about group dynamics. Academic performance is improved by building students’ self-concept and working on goal setting.

 

Program Activities/Program Theory
The VPP curricula (middle and high school) include 12 interactive lessons. One lesson is administered each week in students’ regular classrooms by well-trained program staff. Each lesson—which lasts approximately 45 minutes—features an aim or goal, brief warm-up, main exercise, and a closing discussion. Lessons use experiential, active learning to increase retention rates, get students involved, and further practice communication and relationship skills.

 

VPP addresses poor communication, the classroom environment, and academic self-concept. Skill building and improving students’ conflict-related attitudes and behavior occurs across multiple domains. Communication skills are essential, and most of the classroom lessons revolve around enhancing them in students. The communication skills that are stressed in the VPP curriculum include active listening, the use of “I” statements, and perspective taking. Having students see situations from another perspective and making them feel like the other person in an argument helps diffuse tension and aggression. Students’ normative beliefs about the use and acceptableness of aggressive behavior are challenged, and by teaching them better ways to communicate, aggression is seen as an unacceptable way to resolve a dispute. VPP targets academic self-concept and performance by incorporating goal setting into their lessons.

 

The curricula are theme based, allowing for adaptation to meet specific student and school needs. In middle school populations, the core components are typically leadership, self-affirmation, cooperation, vision and imagination, and conflict management. High school students cover those same core components and add lessons on self-concept, group dynamics, and social responsibility.

 

During lessons and exercises, facilitators help students explore multiple options for resolving conflicts. This gives students more choices to resolve disputes without using violence.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Conflict-Resolution Skills
The focus of The Leadership Program’s Violence Prevention Project (VPP) was to enhance students’ conflict-resolution skills. Thompkins and Chauveron (2010) measured conflict-resolution skills in many ways, ranging from negative to positive behavior: the use of antisocial strategies, verbal and physical aggression, immature avoidance, asking parents for help, walking away from conflicts, and the use of pro-social verbal skills to resolve conflicts.

At baseline, the treatment group displayed more verbal and physical aggressive behavior and antisocial strategies of conflict resolution than the comparison group. At follow-up, the rate of growth for verbal and physical aggressive behavior and antisocial strategies was smaller for the treatment group. In fact, the treatment groups’ verbal and physical aggressive behavior and antisocial strategies were relatively stable from baseline to follow-up, while the comparison groups’ verbal and physical aggression increased over the same time period.

Students not receiving the VPP curriculum increased their verbal aggression and antisocial strategies in resolving conflicts over time, while program participants did not. Comparison group students’ level of physical aggression remained relatively stable from baseline to follow-up, while the treatment group students used physical aggression less after going through VPP.

There was no significant difference for immature avoidance strategies. Both treatment and comparison students avoided peers they had an ongoing conflict or dispute with more between baseline and follow-up.

Meanwhile, the treatment group tended to walk away from conflicts, rather than escalate them or seek help, more than the comparison group over time.

A significant inverse relationship was shown for using pro-social verbal skills. Program participants at baseline used fewer pro-social verbal skills than the comparison group. At follow-up, these rates had stabilized, meaning program participants were using more pro-social verbal skills.


Normative Beliefs of Aggression
At baseline, the treatment group displayed more tolerance of aggression and aggressive behavior than the comparison group. Treatment group students’ tolerance for aggression was relatively stable from baseline to follow-up, while the comparison group student’s tolerance for aggression increased over the same time period. Students not receiving the VPP curriculum grew more accepting of aggression over time, while program participants maintained the level of tolerance for aggression.

Peer Support
Students participating in VPP initially showed lower levels of peer support at baseline than those students in the comparison group. While comparison group students showed higher levels of peer support at baseline, this tended to decline over time in contrast to the treatment groups students. The treatment students started out with low levels of peer support but showed a more positive growth rate at follow-up.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Thompkins and Chauveron (2010) used a quasi-experimental design to determine the impact of The Leadership Program’s Violence Prevention Project (VPP) on student attitudes toward and use of aggressive behavior. Approximately 160 middle and high schools in New York, N.Y., implemented the program for 4 years, starting in the 2005–06 school year. Every year, a smaller subset of the treatment schools, those implementing VPP, were selected at random and compared to students who did not receive VPP lessons (the comparison group). Due to different school implementations of the program, proper random assignment to treatment and control groups was not possible. Students in the comparison group were matched with students in the treatment groups according to grade and academic level. Comparison group students did not receive any VPP lessons throughout the 4 years of the study.

This large study actually consisted of two smaller studies conducted on the different populations that VPP is designed to address: middle school and high school students. The middle school sample consisted of 3,264 students in sixth, seventh, or eighth grade from 24 New York City schools. The treatment group (n=1,688 students) received the VPP curriculum administered in classrooms. The comparison group (n=1,585 students) did not receive VPP or any other conflict-resolution training. The overall sample was almost evenly split on gender—51 percent boys—and was largely Hispanic (47 percent) and African American (36 percent). The treatment group and the comparison group differed significantly with regard to age, with the treatment group being younger. The treatment group also had a greater proportion of Hispanic students than Asian students. There were no other discernable differences between the two groups.

The high school sample consisted of 1,112 students in the 9th and 10th grades, drawn from 13 New York City schools. There were no significant differences between the treatment group (n=587 students) and the comparison group (n=517 students) in terms of age or racial composition. The treatment group had a slightly lower attrition rate than the comparison group, 25 percent versus 31 percent, respectively. The overall sample was again 51 percent boys, and largely Hispanic (42 percent) and African American (41 percent).

In both the middle and high school student samples, baseline surveys were administered in class before the implementation and teaching of VPP. Usually, the VPP curriculum began the week after baseline measurement. The surveys used — both pre- and posttest — gathered data on academic self-concept, peer support, normative beliefs about aggression, conflict-resolution skills, and avoidance behavior. Survey items consisted of Likert-type scales (e.g., ratings of “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”), composite behavioral scales, and vignettes to assess students’ beliefs about aggression and the types of conflict-resolution behavior they may have used. All scales used showed moderate to strong measures of validity and reliability.

The impact of VPP on student behavior was assessed with hierarchical linear modeling. This analytic plan is more appropriate for school-based studies, as it takes into account the clustering of students within schools, as well as multiple data points for each individual subject. This allows for the influence of different school environments to be captured, as well as the influence of an individual on themselves over time: repeated measures of an individual cannot be considered independent observations, as the individual’s past behavior will have an influence on their current behavior. A three-level model was used for all analyses of behavior and attitudes. The first level represents the growth trajectory or change in behavior for each student. The second level represents the variation in growth between students within a school, and the third level represents variation between schools.
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Cost

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Information on specific costs of program material and training are provided under Implementation Information.
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Implementation Information

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The program developers require the following items in order to properly implement the Violence Prevention Project: Administrator Guide ($176 each); Facilitator Program Guide ($132 each); Middle or High School Curriculum Manual ($89 each); Student Workbooks ($22 each); a 2-5 day training provided at the purchaser’s site, which includes biannual webinars and up to 2 hours of technical assistance and coaching for each site ($318-899 per participant, plus travel expenses, with a minimum of 15 participants); and training handouts ($40 per participant).

 

Other items that are available (but not required by the program developer) include booster training ($229 per participant plus travel expenses, with a minimum of 15 participants), an annual 2-day Summer Institute follow-up training in New York City ($359 per participant), technical assistance and coaching (2 free hours are included but each additional hour costs $150), and quality assurance tools, including fidelity and outcome monitoring tools (basic materials are included in the Facilitator Guide, but coaching is available at $150 per hour).

 

Additional information can be found on the program’s Web site, listed under Additional References.

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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
Thompkins, Amanda, and Lisa M. Chauveron. 2010. The Leadership Program’s Violence Prevention Project: Examining Program Effectiveness Among Early and Middle Adolescents. New York, N.Y.: The Leadership Program, Inc.
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Additional References

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

Chauveron, Lisa M., and Amanda Thompkins. 2010. The Leadership Program’s Violence Prevention Project: A Supplementary Review of Implementation Fidelity from 2005–06 Through 2008–09. New York, N.Y.: The Leadership Program, Inc.

The Leadership Program. 2011. “Conflict Resolution: Violence Prevention Project.” Accessed April 25, 2011.
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Related Practices

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

School-Based Bullying Prevention Programs
Aim to reduce bullying and victimization (being bullied) in school settings. Some interventions aim to increase positive involvement in the bullying situation from bystanders or witnesses. The practice is rated Effective for reducing bullying, bullying victimization, and for increasing the likelihood of a bystander to intervene. The practice is rated No Effects for increasing bystander empathy for victims of bullying.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - More than one Meta-Analysis Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors - Bullying
Effective - More than one Meta-Analysis Victimization - Being Bullied
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Mental Health & Behavioral Health - Bystander Intervention
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Mental Health & Behavioral Health - Empathy for the Victim



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: 12 - 16

Gender: Both

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

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): School

Program Type: Academic Skills Enhancement, Classroom Curricula, Conflict Resolution/Interpersonal Skills, School/Classroom Environment, Bullying Prevention/Intervention, Violence Prevention

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: Model Programs Guide, National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices

Program Director:
Amanda Meeson
Vice President of Programming
The Leadership Program
535 8th Avenue, 16th Floor
New York NY 10018
Phone: 212.625.8001
Fax: 212.625.8020
Website
Email

Training and TA Provider:
Erika Petrelli
Vice President of Leadership Development
The Leadership Program
535 8th Avenue, 16th Floor
New York NY 10018
Phone: 212.625.8001
Fax: 212.625.8020
Website
Email