May 28, 1997 in Nation/World

Program Effective In Helping Children Unlearn Violent Behavior, Study Says

Associated Press

Children can unlearn violent behavior in less than six months, according to a study of the effectiveness of an anti-violence program widely used in U.S. and Canadian schools.

The findings in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association help dispel the fatalistic notion that nothing can be done about rising violence among the nation’s young people, government experts say.

“Safer homes, safer schools and safer communities are possible,” Dr. Mark L. Rosenberg and colleagues at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in Atlanta wrote in an accompanying editorial. The center is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which paid for the study.

Violence is a leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 15 and 24.

The study involved 790 second- and third-graders at 12 schools in Washington state. About half were taught the Second Step violence prevention curriculum over a 16- to 20-week period, and their behavior at school was compared with that of students who did not take the course.

Students were evaluated before the program began, two weeks after it ended and six months later.

At the final evaluation, those who had taken the course exhibited about 30 fewer acts of aggressive behavior every day than children who didn’t take the course. The participants also exhibited more than 800 more neutral or positive acts per class every day than children who didn’t take the course.

Aggressive behavior - including hitting, kicking and shoving - increased in students who did not take the course.

The researchers were led by Dr. David C. Grossman at the University of Washington in Seattle.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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