Program

May 21, 2013

OVERVIEW

The Early Childhood Friendship Project is a school-based program designed to reduce aggression among preschool children.  It targets both physical and social bullying (physical and relational aggression).  A preliminary evaluation found several large positive impacts on bullying, but none were statistically significant.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Preschool children

The Early Childhood Friendship Project is a classroom-based intervention designed to reduce aggressive behavior and increase prosocial behavior in young children.  It targets both physical and relational aggression (social exclusion, malicious gossip, etc) through the use of puppet shows, as well as activities such as art projects and role play. There is additional reinforcement during free play.  Each week, the teacher incorporates the lessons into the classroom for 20 to 30 minutes, with an additional three hours of reinforcement during free time.  The intervention takes six weeks to complete and cost approximately ten dollars a student in 2007.

EVALUATION OF PROGRAM

Ostrov, J.M., Massetti, G.M., Stauffacher, K., Godleski, S.A., Hart, K.C., Karch, K.M., Mullins, A.D., and Ries, E.E. (2009). An intervention for relational and physical aggression in early childhood: A preliminary study. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 24, 15-28.

Evaluated population: The sample consisted of 18 preschool classrooms at three public schools and four community-based centers.  The public school classrooms (11 classes) were universal pre-kindergarten classes in a low-income, ethnically diverse urban area.  The remaining classes were ethnically and economically diverse, and were in both urban and suburban areas.  The classes served 403 students, ages three to five, who attended school an average of 24 hours a week.  The average classroom had 24 students, and most teachers (89 percent) had at least a master’s degree in education.  The average teacher had been employed at the school for eight years.

Approach: The researchers randomly assigned schools to either receive the intervention in their classes or to merely have access to the researchers as developmental experts.  In one school, randomization was done at the classroom level with three intervention classrooms and one control classroom, but there was no interaction between the students in different classrooms. Overall, nine classrooms received the treatment, and nine were control classrooms. Physical and relational aggression and victimization were measured at the classroom level through classroom observation, while prosocial behavior was measured by teacher report.  Measurements were taken immediately before the intervention and two weeks after it was completed.

Results: No statistically significant differences were found between the intervention and control classrooms.  However, large (non-significant) impacts were found for relational aggression (D= -.88) and physical victimization (D= -.91), while moderate impacts were found for physical aggression (D= -.54) and prosocial behavior (D= .54).  Only small impacts were found for relational victimization (D= -.23). These results suggest that a larger study, or one that is conducted and measured at the child level, might have significant outcomes, although it is not conclusive.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

Ostrov, J.M., Massetti, G.M., Stauffacher, K., Godleski, S.A., Hart, K.C., Karch, K.M., Mullins, A.D., and Ries, E.E. (2009). An intervention for relational and physical aggression in early childhood: A preliminary study. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 24, 15-28.

Contact Information

Jamie Ostrov

214 Park Hall

Department of Psychology,

Buffalo, NY 14260

jostrov@buffalo.edu

KEYWORDS: Children, Preschool, Males and Females, Urban, Suburban, School-based, Cost, Early Childhood Education, Skills Training, Social Skills/Life Skills, Aggression, Bullying.

Program information last updated on 05/21/2013. 

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