The Need for Resilience Enhancing and Violence Prevention
Patterns of Adolescent Violence
Perspectives on Violence
Risk and Protective Factors and Processes
Ethnic Minority and Cultural Issues
The Public Health Approach to Enhancing Resilience and Preventing
Violence in Schools and Communities
Preventing Violent BehaviorsMental
The Role of Schools
How to Intervene: What Programs Work?
What Are the Issues?
Exhibit 1Model and Promising
Exhibit 2Evidence-Based Programs
That Foster Resilience
Exhibit 3Exemplary, Model, and Promising
Programs to Strengthen Families
How to Intervene: What Programs Work?
Model and promising resilience-enhancing and violence prevention programs
have been identified by several different organizations, both governmental
and nongovernmental. The following section describes the publications
that these organizations provide. It should be emphasized that not all
use the same standards of evidence-based criteria to judge the soundness
of the programs that are recommended.
A. United States Department
of Health and Human Services, Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon
This report, published in 2001, includes descriptions of 27 youth violence
prevention programs that have met scientific standards for program effectiveness
in the Model and Promising categories. It also identifies programs that
do not work. The chapter on Prevention and Intervention is a definitive
discussion of best practices and the evaluation of program effectiveness,
and it distills the major reviews of youth violence prevention programs
published in the last ten years. Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon
General, as well as Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General (1999)
and the National Action Agenda for Children's Mental Health (2001), is
available on-line at http://www.surgeongeneral.gov.
B. United States Department
of Justice, Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn't, Whats Promising
A 1996 Federal law mandated that the Department of Justice (DOJ) provide
Congress with an independent review of the effectiveness of funded State
and local crime prevention programs with special emphasis on factors
that relate to juvenile crime and the effect of these programs on youth
violence. The law further mandated that the review employ
rigorous and scientifically recognized standards and methodologies
(Sherman et al., 1998). In 1997, DOJ presented to Congress the results
of its study, Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn't, Whats
This report was based on a systematic review of more than 500 scientific
evaluations of crime prevention practices. In brief, the DOJ report concluded
that the following principles work for children, families, and schools:
- For infants from 0 to 2: Frequent home visits by trained nurses and
other professionals reduce child abuse and other injuries to infants.
- For preschoolers under age 5: Classes with weekly home visits by preschool
teachers substantially reduce arrests at least through age 15.
- For delinquent and at-risk preadolescents: Family therapy and parent
training reduce risk factors for delinquency such as aggression and
- For schools: organizational development for innovation. Building school
capacity to initiate and sustain innovation through the use of school
teams or other organizational development strategies reduces crime and
- Communication and reinforcement of clear, consistent norms about behavior
through rules, reinforcement of positive behavior, and schoolwide initiatives
(such as anti-bullying campaigns) reduce crime, delinquency, and substance
- Social competency skills curricula, such as Life Skills Training (L.S.T.),
which teach over a long period of time skills such as stress management,
problem solving, self-control, and emotional intelligence, reduce delinquency,
substance abuse, and conduct problems.
- Coaching high-risk youth in thinking skills and using behavior modification
techniques or rewards and punishments reduces substance abuse.
The most recent lists of DOJ model and promising programs are updated
regularly at the University of Maryland Web site,
C. The Center for Substance
Abuse Prevention (CSAP)
As the lead Federal agency for substance abuse prevention, CSAP plays
a major role in bridging the gap between prevention research and practice
by identifying effective programs and practices and disseminating that
knowledge to the field. Many of the effective programs that target alcohol
and drug abuse issues clearly have a positive impact on other aspects
of a child's healthy development, resilience, and mental health. For this
reason, the effective programs proposed by CSAP should be considered by
any community, school, or organization intending to develop a comprehensive
violence prevention program.
A CSAP (1998) expert review of family-focused approaches has determined
that three approaches have a high level of evidence of effectiveness in
reducing behavioral and emotional problems in youth, namely,
- Behavioral parent training;
- Family skills training (which combines parent training, children's
skills training, and family relationship enhancement and communication
practice sessions); and
- Structural or behavioral family therapy.
Forty-five research-based parenting and family intervention models were
selected by CSAP for grants to increase the capacity of communities to
deliver best practices in effective parenting and family programs (see
Exhibit III). Another resource for communities and schools is Understanding
Substance Abuse PreventionToward the 21st Century: A Primer on Effective
Programs. This publication, as well as the most up-to-date list of CSAP
model programs, may be viewed at the Web site of the Substance Abuse and
Mental Health Services Administration, http://www.samhsa.gov/csap.
D. National Association
of School Psychologists Exemplary Mental Health Programs: School
Psychologists as Mental Health Service Providers
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) defined exemplary
programs using the following criteria:
- Integrates theory, research, and practice.
- Addresses links among ecological systems (i.e., school, family, community,
- Occupies a place within a continuum of services (prevention, risk-reduction,
early intervention, and treatment).
- Uses a collaborative-participatory model in which agency staff and
program consumers participate in program development, implementation,
- Evaluates program acceptability, integrity, and effectiveness.
- Involves one or more school psychologists in program design, implementation,
and/or evaluation (Nastasi, Varjas, and Bernstein, 1997).
A list of NASP-recommended programs may be obtained from the National
Association of School Psychologists, Director of Professional Information
and Communication, 4340 East West Highway, Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814.
Phone (301) 657-0270. http://www.naspweb.org.
E. Center for the Study and
Prevention of Violence
The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (CSPV) receives funding
from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NIMH, and DOJ.
In 1996, CSPV initiated a project to identify truly outstanding
violence prevention programs. After reviewing more than 450 prevention
and intervention programs, CSPV developed a list of ten Blueprints.
Descriptions of these ten most effective programs allow States, communities,
and individual agencies to
- Determine the appropriateness of an intervention for their State or
- Provide a realistic
cost estimate for the intervention;
- Provide an assessment of the organizational capacity needed to ensure
successful start-up and operation over time; and
- Give some indication of the potential barriers and obstacles that
might be encountered when attempting to implement this type of intervention.
Each of these programs was required to meet rigorous selection criteria,
including an experimental design, evidence of a statistically significant
deterrent effect, replication in at least one additional site with experimental
design and demonstrated effects, and evidence that the deterrent effect
was sustained for at least one year posttreatment. According to Elliott,
these high standards reflect the level of confidence needed to build
a violence prevention initiative, with the objective of allowing communities
to implement these programs with the confidence of effectiveness in deterring
violence, if implemented with integrity. See Exhibit I for a list
of CSPV model and promising programs. Additional information can also
be obtained from the CSPV Web site, http://www.colorado.edu/cspv.
F. Communities That Care®
Prevention Strategies: A Research Guide to What Works
Communities That Care (CTC) is a comprehensive, research-based community
mob-ilization and planning organization that helps schools, families,
local agencies and organizations, the media, and young people themselves
collaborate in the creation of a safe, supportive environment for all.
CTC has identified a number of prevention strategies that have been shown
through high-quality research to be effective in reducing risk factors
and enhancing protective factors for adolescent health and behavior problems.
These prevention strategies are used in programs that
- Address research-based risk factors for substance abuse, delinquency,
teen pregnancy, school dropout, and violence;
- Increase protective factors by (a) strengthening healthy beliefs and
clear standards for behavior, or (b) building bonds to family, community,
school, and/or positive peers by providing opportunities for meaningful
contribution, teaching skills necessary for contributing, and recognizing
- Intervene at a developmentally appropriate age; and
- Have shown positive effects in high-quality tests.
The guide lists programs that have demonstrated significant effects on
risk and protective factors in controlled studies or community trials
and some that have also shown positive effects on health and behavior
Communities That Care® Prevention Strategies: A Research Guide to
What Works divides the list of programs into four categories: family,
school, community, and community-based youth programs. The guide contains
far too many programs to include in this document. A copy of the guide
may be obtained from Developmental Research and Programs, Inc., 130 Nickerson,
Suite 107, Seattle, WA 98109. Phone (800) 736-2630; FAX (206) 286-1462.
G. Center for Mental Health
Services, Literature on the Development of Resilience
In planning interventions, one would do well to heed the advice
of researchers who have focused on resilience; their work offers
the prevention, education, and youth development fields solid research
evidence for placing human development at the focus of everything that
we do (Benard, 1996). Essential components of strength-based, resilience-enhancing
experienceswhether at home, at school, or in the communityare
caring relationships, high expectations and adequate support to meet them,
and opportunities to contribute to other people or to the world at large.
See Exhibit II for sample programs. Additional information may be obtained
from the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), Special Programs Development
Branch (SPDB), Room 17C-05, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857, or
H. U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, Annual Reports on School
Since 1998, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice have jointly
prepared annual reports on school safety to describe the nature and extent
of crime and violence on school properties. The 1999 and 2000 reports
also highlight the communities which have received Safe Schools/Healthy
Students grants from CMHS and Federal Partners in Justice Education, and
summarize information on effective programs. The material is organized
by the types of problems schools encounter, such as aggression, fighting,
bullying, family issues, gangs, racial and other bias-related conflict,
sexual harassment/sexual violence, substance abuse, truancy/dropout, vandalism,
and weapons. Resources for more information about school safety and crime
issues are listed. The reports are on-line at the Web sites of the Safe
and Drug-Free Schools Programs Office (www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/SDFS) and
the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (www.ncjrs.org/ojjdp).
I. Proceedings of the National Suicide Prevention Conference: Advancing
the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention
This October 1998 conference brought together suicide prevention experts
from across the country to develop core recommendations that could be
adopted as a national strategy. Distinguished researchers and experts
reviewed the research literature and existing programs to determine which
programs hold the most promise for the future of suicide prevention. These
are their recommendations for suicide prevention interventions in school-aged
- Promote education and awareness to individuals at risk, their families,
and care providers on signs and symptoms of depression and suicidal
- Develop effective methods to reduce stigma and embarrassment about
seeking help and accessing mental health services. Promote the message,
It is OK to seek help.
- Develop and implement education programs for youth to help them self-identify
symptoms of depression and suicidalilty and to provide information on
the nature and treatment of mood disorders.
- Endorse proactive skill development beginning in early childhood.
School programs should include coping skills for loss, impulse control,
anger management, problem solving, conflict resolution, emotional liability,
and depression management. In addition, they should promote developmental
assets and resiliency.
- Develop, implement, and evaluate specific screening projects for students
entering middle school, high school, and college.
- Incorporate suicide prevention in a proven, safe, and age-appropriate
comprehensive health curriculum for all students throughout the school
years, with accompanying materials for family members.
- Improve linkages between schools and mental health services for all.
- Bring focus to school mental health efforts through training of administrators,
teachers, school staff, and others.
- Establish school-based health clinics for mental and physical health.
of Mental Illness
- Identify, treat, and improve treatment (e.g., through services or
for youth with conduct disorders, substance abuse, and affective and
Other Drug Abuse
- Reduce alcohol and other substance abuse among high-risk populations.
Access to Mental
- Identify dropouts and other youth without community affiliation as
being at high risk and treat accordingly.
- Educate and train community people who are likely to come into contact
with persons at risk for suicide so that they can recognize and respond
to them. Among those who should be trained are teachers, human resource
managers, bus drivers, families, clergy, and law enforcement officers.
- Develop culturally appropriate stress management techniques for youth.
- Develop guidelines and training for practitioners who deal with children
and youth. This training should include best practices, issues specific
to youth, and appropriate diagnostic and treatment procedures.
- Encourage the implementation of effective crisis intervention programs
for the entire school community after a suicide.
Additional information may be obtained from the Suicide Prevention Advocacy
Network, 5034 Odins Way, Marietta, GA 30068. Phone (888) 649-1366.
J. United States General
In addition to the recommendations of the above organizations, the U.S.
General Accounting Office (GAO) in 1995 identified seven characteristics
associated with the most promising violence prevention programs:
- Comprehensive approach. These programs recognize violence as a complex
problem that requires a multifaceted response addressing more than one
problem area and involving a variety of services that link schools to
- Early start and long-term commitment. These programs (a) reach young
children to shape attitudes, knowledge, and behavior while they are
still open to positive influences and (b) sustain the intervention over
multiple years (e.g., from kindergarten through 12th grade).
- Strong leadership and disciplinary policies. Principals and school
administrators sustain stable funding, staff, and program components,
and, most important, they collaborate with others to reach program goals.
In addition, student disciplinary policies are clear and consistently
- Staff development. Key school administrators, teachers, and staff
are trained to handle disruptive students and mediate conflict as well
as to understand and incorporate prevention strategies into their school
- Parental involvement. The schools seek to increase parental involvement
in reducing violence by providing training in violence prevention skills,
making home visits, and enlisting parents as volunteers.
- Interagency partnerships and community linkages. The schools seek
community support in making school antiviolence policies and programs
work. To accomplish this, they develop collaborative agreements in which
school personnel, local businesses, law enforcement officers, social
service agencies, and private groups work together to address the multiple
causes of violence.
- Culturally sensitive and developmentally appropriate materials and
activities. Program materials and activities are designed to be compatible
with (a) students' cultural values and norms, using bilingual materials
and culturally appropriate program activities, role models, and leaders,
and (b) participants age and level of development.