Rates of school violence in K-12 schools in the US are startling. A 2014 study found that the number of youth homicide victims could fill 89 school buses annually. And each year, the number of youth hospitalized for assault-related injuries is high enough to fill every seat within 9 football stadiums. These alarming statistics call for better prevention programs to decrease youth violence.
Many schools engage in secondary prevention methods such as metal detectors and police intervention programs. A literature review conducted by Hankin and Hertz (2011), however, concluded there were insufficient data to determine whether metal detectors were effective in reducing violence among adolescents in middle and high schools. And though many states have their own violence prevention programs such as the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) and Law-Related Education (L.R.E.), other programs such as Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST) have been shown to yield better results.
The CDC recommends evidence-based programs such as LST because of their proven effectiveness in reducing violence and drug use. A 2006 study conducted in New York City found significant reduction in violence and delinquency amongst students who received LST compared to students who received standard health education provided by New York City public schools. Results from a 3-month follow up indicated that those who received the LST intervention (2,734 students) showed a 25.6% decrease in physical aggression compared to those who did not (2,484 students).
National Health Promotion Associates (NHPA) is currently conducting research on substance and violence prevention by evaluating LST in different cohort settings. One of the most popular and successful project conducted by NHPA is the middle school program that teaches self-management skills, general social skills, and drug resistance skills to 6-9th graders. The program is recognized by organizations such as the National Institute of Health, U.S. Department of Education, the National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practice, and many more. For more information on the program, click here.
Botvin, G. J., Griffin, K. W.,Nichols, T. R. (2006). Preventing youth violence and delinquency through a universal school-based prevention approach. Prevention Science, 7, 403-408.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] (2016). Youth violence: Risk and protective factors. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/riskprotectivefactors.html
David-Ferdon C, Simon TR. (2014). Taking Action to Prevent Youth Violence: A Companion Guide to Preventing Youth Violence: Opportunities for Action. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/pdf/opportunities-for-action-companion-guide.pdf
Gottfredson, D. C. (n.d.). Chapter 5 (R. Weissberg, Ed.). Retrieved October 31, 2016, from https://www.ncjrs.gov/works/chapter5.htm
Washington State Institute for Public Policy [WSIP] (2014). Cost-benefits results. Retrieved from: http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/BenefitCost.
Contributing Writer: Kevin Ng recently received a Bachelor of Science in Health Science and Public Health from Stony Brook University.