Program

May 09, 2014

OVERVIEW

 The Preventing Relational Aggression in Schools Everyday Program (PRAISE) is a classroom-based intervention designed to increase knowledge and skills and decrease aggressive behaviors in urban, low-income, African-American third and fourth graders. Findings from an experimental study indicate that PRAISE reduces levels of aggression and increases social processing knowledge for all girls targeted, regardless of their levels of aggression at baseline, but similar results are not found for boys.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

 Target population: Third through fifth grade students in low-income, primarily African-American, urban settings in the United States

The Preventing Relational Aggression in Schools Everyday Program (PRAISE) is a prevention intervention based on the Friend to Friend program (F2F), which was designed to target African-American girls in grades three through five exhibiting relational and overt aggression. The PRAISE program is an adaptation of F2F that is intended for all children—regardless of gender and aggressive behaviors—in 3rd and 4th grade classrooms in predominantly African-American, urban, low-income schools. PRAISE consists of 20 classroom-based sessions, lasting 40 minutes each, offered twice a week over the course of a school year. The classes are facilitated by research therapists and one classroom teacher. The program uses the following components, each offered across multiple sessions: 1) social-cognitive retraining, 2) applying social-cognitive strategies to rumors and peer entry scenarios, 3) empathy building, 4) perspective taking, 5) being a bystander in the face of conflict, and 6) exploring ways to reduce the harm of aggression. The PRAISE sessions use culturally specific cartoons, videos, and role-plays to target children’s social-cognitive processing, empathy, and skills related to perspective-taking and responding as a bystander of aggression. These outcomes are all part of PRAISE’s overarching goal of reducing relational and overt aggressive behaviors in all children, but most specifically in girls and boys already showing signs of aggressive behavior.

EVALUATION OF PROGRAM

 Leff, S. S., Waasdorp, T. E., Paskewich, B., Gullan, R. L., Jawad, A. F., Macevoy, J. P., Feinberg, B. E., & Power, T. J. (2010). The Preventing Relational Aggression in Schools Everyday program: a preliminary evaluation of acceptability and impact. School Psych Rev, 39(4), 569-587.

Evaluated population: The sample included 227 children from 10 third and fourth grade classrooms in one large urban elementary school. The sample represents the approximately three-quarters of all children in those 10 classrooms who provided child assent and parent consent. Girls and boys were equally represented in the sample, and 74 percent of the sample children were African-American.

Approach: The primary purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of the PRAISE program, which was adapted from a similar but more targeted aggression reduction program (F2F). This evaluation was specifically focused on outcomes for relationally aggressive girls because this would serve to replicate findings from the F2F intervention. Secondary objectives of the PRAISE evaluation were to explore the program’s effectiveness in building social-cognitive, empathy, and perspective-taking skills among a co-ed population with aggressive and non-aggressive children.

Prior to the implementation of PRAISE, baseline data were collected on levels of relational and overt aggression, hostile attribution bias (the tendency to interpret others’ behaviors as hostile), and knowledge about social information processing (also referred to as anger problem solving). At baseline, children in the intervention and control classrooms were equivalent on most measures with the exception of a disproportionate number of girls in the intervention classrooms having low scores on the measure of hostile attributions in overtly aggressive situations, indicating that on this measure there may have been a floor effect for girls in the intervention classrooms but not for girls in the control classrooms.

All third and fourth grade classrooms in one large urban elementary school were randomized to the intervention (PRAISE) or control (regular education curriculum) after a blocking procedure took place to ensure that approximately equal numbers of aggressive children would be included in treatment and control classrooms. Children’s aggression status was determined through a peer nomination procedure, administered prior to random assignment. All students (n=290) in the classrooms were given the option to participate and approximately three-quarters (n=227) provided child assent and parental consent; the majority of participating children were not identified as exhibiting relational or overt aggressive behaviors. Among 21 girls identified with relational aggression, 13 were in intervention classrooms and 8 were in control classrooms. Among the 39 aggressive boys, 21 were in intervention classrooms and 18 were in control classrooms.

Children in the intervention and control classrooms were re-assessed at the end of the school year (post-intervention) on their levels of relational and overt aggression, hostile attribution bias, and knowledge about the steps of anger problem solving.

Results: Because the primary objective of this evaluation was to examine impacts among relationally aggressive girls, these findings are presented first, followed by results for all girls, aggressive boys, and all boys.

Compared with relationally aggressive girls in the control classrooms, aggressive girls in the PRAISE classrooms had significantly higher post-intervention knowledge scores, after controlling for baseline knowledge (effect size of 0.63). At follow up, relationally aggressive girls in the intervention classrooms also displayed lower levels of both relational aggression and overt aggression compared with aggressive girls in the control classrooms (effect size of 1.38 for relational aggression and 3.13 for overt aggression). For this finding, relationally aggressive girls who participated in PRAISE had a small decrease in overt aggression at follow-up, whereas relationally aggressive girls in the control classrooms exhibited substantially higher levels of overt aggression. No significant differences in hostile attribution biases were found between relationally aggressive girls in the intervention compared with relationally aggressive girls in control classrooms.

Among all girls in the sample, the PRAISE program led to increased knowledge about social information processing and anger management (effect size of 1.24) and lower levels of relational aggression (effect size of 0.60) in the intervention classrooms compared with the control classrooms. There were no differences at follow-up between all girls in the intervention and control classrooms on overt aggression or hostile attribution biases.

Finally, following the PRAISE intervention, no significant impacts were found among aggressive boys on their knowledge, hostile attribution biases, or levels of aggression compared with aggressive boys in the control classrooms; however, among all boys in the sample, knowledge increased more for those in PRAISE classrooms compared with boys in the control classrooms (effect size of 0.58).

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

Leff, S. S., Gullan, R. L., Paskewich, B. S., Abdul-Kabir, S., Jawad, A. F., Grossman, M., et al. (2009). An initial evaluation of a culturally adapted social problem-solving and relational aggression prevention program for urban African-American relationally aggressive girls. J Prev Interv Community, 37(4), 260-274.

Contact Information

Stephen S. Leff, PhD

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Department of Pediatric Psychology

3535 Market Street, Suite 1480

Philadelphia, PA 19104

leff@email.chop.edu

215-590-7067

KEYWORDS: Elementary, Children, Males and Females, Black/African American, Urban, School-Based, Skills Training, Aggression, Social Skills/Life Skills, Bullying

Program information last updated on 05/09/14. 

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