Sep 18, 2007


This consulting
program is designed to prevent vandalism and problem behaviors in elementary
and junior high school students. The program seeks to spread the
knowledge and effects of the program through “model” teachers who are counseled
in several areas of teaching, counseling, and problem-behavior reduction.
The program was effective in increasing the amount of praise given to students
by teachers, decreasing the amount of school vandalism, and also in reducing
off-task behavior by students.


Target population: Students in grades 4-8

This program is targeted at students in elementary and
junior high schools which have significant problems with vandalism. Program
staff select “model” teachers at each school and give these teachers a series
of counseling programs to improve teaching behaviors, design effective
antivandalism programs, and help improve the overall school environment. In
the first year of the program, “model” teachers, principals, school counselors,
and school psychologists meet in team meetings twice a month. In addition
to the team meetings, “model” teachers are counseled by program staff twice
weekly. All teachers in the school are also given the option of receiving
counseling on an as-needed basis.


Mayer, G. R., Butterworth, T., Nafpaktitis, M., &
Sulzer-Azaroff, B. (1983). Preventing school vandalism and improving
discipline: A three-year study. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,
(4), 355-369.

Evaluated population: Twenty elementary
and junior high schools from Los
Angeles County.
Students in grades 4-8 at these schools scored below the 45th
national percentile on average reading ability.

Approach: Schools were randomly assigned to either
the treatment condition or a delayed treatment condition which did not receive
the intervention until 1 year later. In each treatment school, two
teachers were selected by principals as “model” teachers. These teachers
had the responsibility of attending consulting sessions and helping to develop
programs to help reduce vandalism at the schools. During the program,
consultants conducted twice-monthly meetings with teachers, principals, and
school counselors and psychologists. During these meetings, consultants
presented on a range of topics including effective counseling, positive
reinforcement methods, punishment and its side effects, antivandalism options
and conditions for vandalism, effective modeling, and programs and activities
to enhance school environment. All teachers at the treatment school also
had the option of receiving consulting if they requested it. Schools in
the control group could not receive any services until the second and third
years of the program. Two “barometer” classrooms were selected at random
in each school, and six at-risk students were selected randomly in each class
to assess spillover effects on use of praise and student behavior.

Results: In the first year data collection, schools
in the treatment condition were more likely to experience a decline in the cost
of vandalism compared with the control schools. Elementary teachers in
the control group were decreasing in the amount of praise delivered to students
over the school year compared to their counterparts in the treatment
group. Students in the treatment intervention had a larger decrease than
those in the control group in off-task behavior.



Mayer, G. R., Butterworth, T., Nafpaktitis, M., &
Sulzer-Azaroff, B. (1983). Preventing school vandalism and improving
discipline: A three-year study. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,
(4), 355-369.

Childhood (6-11), Children (3-11), Adolescence (12-17), Co-ed, Elementary, Middle
School, School-based, Behavioral problems, Delinquency, Vandalism, Counseling/Therapy.

Program information last updated 9/18/07

Subscribe to Child Trends

Short weekly updates of recent research on children and youth.