Program

May 09, 2013

OVERVIEW

Youth Matters is a school-based bullying prevention program that uses a curriculum to teach upper elementary school students skills for dealing with bullying and promotes positive norms within the schools. An experimental evaluation of the program found a reduction in reported levels of victimization by bullying at the end of the program.  At a 12-month follow-up, the rates of decline in bullying victimization did not differ between the two groups. No impacts were reported on bullying behaviors at the end of the program or at 12-month follow-up.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Upper elementary school students at schools with a high risk of bullying behavior

Youth Matters is a two-year school-based bullying prevention program that encourages positive relationships between students and school adults and promotes healthy norms in the school community. It uses a curriculum that is made up of four instructional modules that discuss issues and skills important to students and the community. The curriculum uses interactive instruction and emphasizes the consequences of bullying to both victims and perpetrators. Each module is conducted over ten sessions and ends with a classroom or school-wide project that focuses on the negative consequences of bullying and aggression. The issue modules involve discussion of critical developmental concerns and creating projects to promote positive norms in the school. These modules are designed to strengthen peer and school norms against antisocial behavior. The skills modules teach social competency and social resistance skills.

EVALUATIONS OF PROGRAM

Jenson, J.M., & Dieterich, W.A. (2007). Effects of a skills-based prevention program on bullying and bully victimization among elementary school children. Prevention Science, 8, 285-296.

Evaluated population: A total of 1,126 students (670 experimental, 456 control) from 66 fourth grade classrooms (39 experimental, 27 control) at 28 schools were evaluated. All of the schools were identified as high risk based on expulsion and suspension rates and eligibility for free lunch. The experimental group was 65 percent Latino, 13 percent African American, 8 percent Caucasian, 3 percent American Indian, 3 percent Asian, 0.4 percent Pacific Islander, and 7 percent other race/ethnicity; 49 percent of the experimental group was female. The control group was 51 percent Latino (which was significantly lower than the experimental group), 17 percent African American, 11 percent Caucasian, 3 percent American Indian, 3 percent Asian, and 13 percent other race/ethnicity; 53 percent of the control group was female.

Approach:  Schools with the highest rates of problem behaviors in one district were targeted for the intervention. Forty schools were stratified by geographic area and risk and then randomly assigned to the experimental condition or control condition. Fourteen schools per condition agreed to participate in the study. The models did not control for ethnic differences between the intervention and control groups.

The curriculum modules were adapted for the large number of Latino children in the sample, and materials were translated into Spanish for three Spanish speaking classes. Data were collected in the fall and spring of the fourth and fifth grade years on both bully victimization and bullying behavior.

Results: There was a statistically significant positive impact on reported levels of victimization by bullying, but no impacts were found for reported levels of bullying behavior. However, when looking at the dichotomous outcome of whether bullying occurred at least 2-3 times per month, no impacts on bully victimization or bully status were found.

Jenson, J. M., Dieterich, W.A., Brisson, D., Bender, K. A., & Powell, A. (2010). Preventing childhood bullying: Findings and lessons from the Denver Public Schools trial. Research on Social Work Practice, 20(5), 509-517.

Evaluated population: Although the randomized sample is the same as in the above study, this analysis only includes 876 students due to propensity score matching procedures

Approach:  As described above, participants were randomly assigned to a control group or to the experimental group. The authors measured bullying and bullying victimization again in the spring of sixth grade, or 12 months after the intervention ended.

Results: The control group and experimental group were not found to differ in rates of bullying at 12-month follow up.  There were no statistically significant differences in rates of decline of bullying victimization at 12-month follow-up either.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

Jenson, J.M., & Dieterich, W.A. (2007). Effects of a skills-based prevention program on bullying and bully victimization among elementary school children. Prevention Science, 8, 285-296.

Jenson, J. M., Dieterich, W.A., Brisson, D., Bender, K. A., & Powell, A. (2010). Preventing childhood bullying: Findings and lessons from the Denver Public Schools trial. Research on Social Work Practice, 20(5), 509-517.

KEYWORDS: Children (3-11), Adolescents (12-17), Elementary, Middle School, Males and Females (Co-ed), High-Risk, Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American, White/Caucasian, School-based, Skills Training, Bullying.

Program information last updated on 5/9/13.

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