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Program Profile: Social Aggression Prevention Program (SAPP)

Evidence Rating: No Effects - One study No Effects - One study

Date: This profile was posted on September 14, 2015

Program Summary

This is a school-based, small group program designed to prevent social aggression and increase empathy, prosocial behavior, and social problem-solving skills among fifth-grade females. The program is rated No Effects. While program participants self-reported more pro-social responses to hypothetical scenarios, there were no significant changes in behaviors as described by teachers and peers.

Program Description

Program Goals/Target Population
The Social Aggression Prevention Program (SAPP) was a school-based, small group program designed to prevent social aggression and increase empathy, prosocial behavior, and social problem-solving skills among fifth-grade females. The program used a manualized curriculum and small group activities. The program emphasized the role of peer influences within conflicts and was designed to foster 1) emotional awareness of oneself and others during conflicts, 2) cognitive understanding of the motivations and consequences related to socially aggressive behavior, and 3) behavioral skills to resolve socially aggressive conflicts. The program goals were to reduce social aggression and increase positive leadership among peers.

Program Activities
SAPP was a school-based prevention program for girls in later elementary school, at an age where many have experienced social aggression but have not developed patterns of use. The target population included all fifth-grade girls regardless of “risk” or other factors. The SAPP group received a semi-structured curriculum, which was conducted in groups of four to seven girls with one group leader. The intervention consisted of 10 weekly 40-minute sessions that were conducted during the school day but outside of the classroom. The program strongly emphasized peers’ roles in perpetuating and dissolving socially aggressive conflicts. Activities focused on increasing emotional awareness, cognitive understanding, and the behavioral skills needed to resolve socially aggressive conflicts in a prosocial manner rather than perpetuate them.

SAPP group leaders used discussion, role playing, modeling, games, and collaboration to 1) increase knowledge of social aggression, 2) build emotional understanding of oneself and others during a conflict, 3) promote positive communication and behavior, 4) provide opportunities to observe, model, and practice social skills, and 5) teach social problem-solving skills.

Key Personnel
The SAPP small groups were led by female graduate students in clinical psychology and other women with experience in counseling elementary-age children.

Program Theory
Social aggression is the use of nonconfrontational behavior that employs a social community, otherwise referred to as subtle confrontational behavior (Galen and Underwood 1997; Underwood 2003). Social aggression is empirically different from overt aggression, in that social aggression perpetration and victimization are associated more with social and psychological adjustment than overt aggression (Crick and Bigbee 1998; Prinstein et al. 2001). When considering social aggression, the use of peers and friendship groups are also qualitatively different. Typically, at least three people are involved in instances of social aggression: the perpetrator, victim, and follower(s). Peer followers are integral components to the equation by spreading rumors, enacting the exclusion, and encouraging the perpetrator (Pepler and Craig 1995; Xie, Swift, Cairns, and Cairns 2002). Some researchers have found that prevalence and experience of social aggression varies by gender and age, and girls in late childhood and early adolescence may be at a higher risk than boys (French et al. 2002; Rys and Bear 1997; Xie et al. 2003). The intervention focused specifically on girls because they are often ignored in aggression research and intervention (Giordano and Cernkovich 1997).

The curriculum content for SAPP was guided by the ABCD (affective, behavioral, cognitive, dynamic) model of development, which posits that children’s internal and external coping arises from their combined emotional awareness, cognitive understanding, and behavioral skills (Greenberg, Kusche, and Mihalic 1998). Social–interactional theory laid the framework for the intervention setting, implying that these types of behaviors commonly unfold within a school-based, within-gender peer group social context (Craig and Pepler 2000; Grotpeter and Crick 1996; Paquette and Underwood 1999; Xie, Cairns, and Cairns 2002). Additionally, social learning theory guided the composition of intervention in small groups so that participants could learn from each other (Bandura 1973; Craig, Pepler, and Atlas 2000; Huesmann and Eron 1984). 

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Cappella and Weinstein (2006) evaluated a Social Aggression Prevention Program for girls and found mixed results.

Prosocial Behavior Described by Teachers and Peers
Researchers found no significant differences between SAPP and RC groups regarding teacher- or peer-rated prosocial behavior.

Social Aggression Problems Described by Teachers and Peers
Researchers found no significant differences between SAPP and RC groups regarding teacher- or peer-rated social aggression problems.

Self-Reported Social Problem-Solving: Perpetrator Perspective
When given hypothetical scenarios designed to elicit perpetration of social aggression, no significant differences were found between groups regarding use of problem-solving strategies.

Self-Reported Social Problem-Solving: Follower Perspective (Exclusion)
When given hypothetical scenarios to assess perspectives of potential ”followers” of social aggression, participants in the SAPP group were significantly more likely to suggest a prosocial/assertive problem-solving strategy to resolve the conflict and were less likely to suggest antisocial/aggressive strategies, when compared with students in the RC group.

Self-Reported Social Problem-Solving: Victim Perspective (Exclusion)
When given hypothetical scenarios to assess perspectives of potential “victims” of social aggression, no significant differences were found between groups regarding problem-solving behavior strategies.

Self-Reported Social Problem-Solving: Follower Perspective (Gossiping)
When given hypothetical scenarios to assess perspectives of potential “followers” of spreading nasty gossip, students in the SAPP group were significantly more likely than their RC counterparts to report prosocial problem-solving strategies and less likely to report antisocial problem-solving strategies to handle the situations.

Self-Reported Social Problem-Solving: Victim Perspective (Gossiping)
When given hypothetical scenarios to assess perspectives of potential “victims” of nasty gossip, SAPP participants were significantly more likely than RC participants to propose prosocial problem-solving strategies and less likely to propose antisocial problem-solving strategies to handle the situations.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Cappella and Weinstein (2006) conducted a longitudinal field experiment using six schools from one ethnically diverse urban school district in northern California. Fifth-grade teachers and teachers of fourth/fifth-grade and fifth/sixth-grade classes were asked to participate. A total of 13 teachers volunteered for the study, or approximately one to three teachers per school. The average student population per school was 476 students, with an average fifth-grade class size of 30 students. Approximately 37 percent of students received free or reduced-price lunch. A total of 134 parents provided consent for their children to participate. The sample was predominately made of up fifth-grade students (89 percent) while 11 percent of the students were in fourth- or sixth-grade in combined-grade classrooms. Participants ranged in age from 9 to 12 years. Students were randomly assigned within classrooms to participate in SAPP or in a small-group reading club (RC) control group.

The RC comparison intervention matched the SAPP in structure and time but did not include content related to relationships or conflicts. Rather, RC control students engaged in reading aloud from a chapter book and completed accompanying literacy activities. Women with teaching degrees and/or experience in tutoring children in schools led the RC groups. RC group leaders conducted individual activities rather than group projects and addressed behavioral issues individually. During the first session, students were presented with several book choices, all of which were adventure books that involved a female protagonist. None of the books involved peer relationships as themes. Throughout the 10-week intervention, the comparison RC group kept journals and read aloud from the book while group leaders facilitated activities, writing assignments, and discussions of book content and characters. Goals of the RC intervention included increasing student exposure to words and improving basic reading abilities.

Data collection for this study occurred 2–4 weeks prior to exposure to the intervention, and 2–4 weeks post-intervention. At both times, self-report, peer-report, and teacher-report instruments developed by the researchers based on existing instruments were used to obtain data on participants’ emotional understanding, social problem-solving and social behavior, and other internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Self-report surveys were administered to all girls within the classroom (both pre- and postintervention), but the girls were not privy to the reason for the survey. Undergraduate research assistants and graduate student researchers administered the 15-minute self-report surveys. Peer assessments were conducted for each child in a private setting via a one-to-one interview with a researcher. After each session, average peer-rating scores were computed for each child based on the interview sessions. Teachers were also asked to complete behavior and achievement rating scales for each student in the classroom during the same week in which researchers collected data from the students.

Chi-square analyses and ANOVA procedures were used to establish baseline equivalence between groups in regard to ethnic measures and baseline dependent variables (empathy, social behavior, social problem-solving, and reading achievement). Main effects of the intervention were assessed using ANOVA and ANCOVA techniques. One significant baseline difference was found in regard to reading achievement, in which SAPP participants exhibited higher baseline reading achievement than RC students.

Implementation was monitored weekly via session summaries and Time 2 self-report surveys. 
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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this program.
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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
Cappella, Elise, and Rhona Weinstein. “The Prevention of Social Aggression Among Girls.” 2006. Social Development 15(3): 434–62.
http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/scmsAdmin/uploads/002/511/Cappella%20%20Weinstein_2006_The%20Prevention%20of%20Social%20Aggression%20among%20Girls.pdf
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Additional References

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

Bandura, Albert. Aggression: A Social Learning Analysis. 1973. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.:Prentice-Hall.

Craig, Wendy, and Debra Pepler. “Observations of Bullying and Victimization in the School Yard.” 2000. In W. Craig, (ed.). Childhood Social Development: The Essential Readings. Vol. 2. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley-Blackwell.

Craig, Wendy M., Debra Pepler, and Rona Atlas. “Observations of Bullying in the Playground and in the Classroom.” 2000. School Psychology International 21(1): 22–36.

Crick, Nicki R., and Maureen A. Bigbee. “Relational and Overt Forms of Peer Victimization: A Multiinformant Approach.” 1998. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 66(2): 337.

French, Doran C., Elizabeth A. Jansen, and Sri Pidada. “United States and Indonesian Children’s and Adolescents’ Reports of Relational Aggression by Disliked Peers.” 2002. Child Development 73(4): 1143–50.

Galen, Britt R., and Marion K. Underwood. “A Developmental Investigation of Social Aggression Among Children.” 1997. Developmental Psychology 33(4): 589.

Giordano, Peggy C., and Stephen A. Cernkovich. “Gender and Antisocial Behavior.” 1997. In David M. Stoff,  James Ed Breiling, and Jack D. Maser (eds.). Handbook of Antisocial Behavior. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Greenberg, Mark T., Carol A. Kusche, and Sharon F. Mihalic. “Blueprints for Violence Prevention: Book Ten: Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies.” 1998. Boulder, Colo.: Center for the Prevention of Violence.

Grotpeter, Jennifer K., and Nicki R. Crick. “Relational Aggression, Overt Aggression, and Friendship.” 1996. Child Development 67(5): 2328–38.

Huesmann, L. Rowell, and Leonard D. Eron. “Cognitive Processes and the Persistence of Aggressive Behavior.” 1984. Aggressive Behavior 10(1): 243–51.

Lochman, John E., and Kenneth A. Dodge. “Social-Cognitive Processes of Severely Violent, Moderately Aggressive, and Nonaggressive Boys.” 1994. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 62(2): 366.

Paquette, Julie A., and Marion K. Underwood. “Gender Differences in Young Adolescents' Experiences of Peer Victimization: Social and Physical Aggression.” 1999. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly 45(2):242–66.

Pepler, Debra J., and Wendy M. Craig. “A Peek Behind the Fence: Naturalistic Observations of Aggressive Children with Remote Audiovisual Recording.” 1995. Developmental Psychology 31(4):548.

Prinstein, Mitchell J., Julie Boergers, and Eric M. Vernberg. “Overt and Relational Aggression in Adolescents: Social-Psychological Adjustment of Aggressors and Victims.” 2001. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology 30(4):479–91.

Rys, Gail S., and George G. Bear. “Relational Aggression and Peer Relations: Gender and Developmental Issues.” 1997. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly 43:87–106.

Xie, Hongling, Robert B. Cairns, and Beverley D. Cairns. “The Development of Social Aggression and Physical Aggression: A Narrative Analysis of Interpersonal Conflicts.” 2002. Aggressive Behavior 28(5):341–55.

Xie, Hongling, Thomas W. Farmer, and Beverley D. Cairns. “Different Forms of Aggression Among Inner-city African–American Children: Gender, Configurations, and School Social Networks.” Journal of School Psychology 41(5):355–75.

Xie, Hongling, Dylan J. Swift, Beverley D. Cairns, and Robert B. Cairns. “Aggressive Behaviors in Social Interaction and Developmental Adaptation: A Narrative Analysis of Interpersonal Conflicts During Early Adolescence.” 2002. Social Development 11(2):205–24.
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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
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Program Snapshot

Age: 9 - 12

Gender: Female

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

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): School

Program Type: Classroom Curricula, Conflict Resolution/Interpersonal Skills, Leadership and Youth Development, School/Classroom Environment, Bullying Prevention/Intervention

Targeted Population: Females

Current Program Status: Not Active

Listed by Other Directories: Model Programs Guide