Early Identification and Intervention
Early Identification and Intervention
What Works in Preventing School Violence
mong the most powerful risk factors for school violence is anger,
RESOURCES: especially sudden rage. Students who have not learned to
manage their anger are at-risk for aggression, perhaps even
Eggert, L. (1994). Anger violent explosive behavior. The goal of anger management is to help
Management for Youth: Stemming students with high levels of aggression or anger learn how to control their
Aggression and Violence.
Bloomington, IN: National emotions. Helping students learn how to understand and manage their
Educational Service. feelings may provide them with tools to avoid escalating negative
This book contains an anger
management step-by-step training feelings so as to avoid serious confrontations with students, teachers, and
Larson, J.D. & McBride, J.A. (1992). In anger management, students are taught strategies (e.g., problem-solving
Think First: Anger and Aggression skills) that enable them to control their anger in the face of a conflict. Although
Management for Secondary Level
Students (Treatment Manual). specific elements used in anger management vary, most programs use a
Whitewater, WI: Author. combination of techniques. First, youth develop their ability to understand the
This anger management curriculum
comes with a session by session perspective of others, to put themselves in someone elses shoes. Second,
outline of how to train students in students are taught to be aware of their emotional and physical states when they
anger management as well as a are angry. To help students learn self-control, some programs will teach
relaxation techniques. Finally, students learn how to use a specific strategy
(e.g., Stop! Think! What should I do?) to moderate their responses to
Goldstein, A. P. (1987). Aggression
Replacement Training: A potential conflicts. Students are typically trained in problem-solving skills
Comprehensive Intervention for including 1) identifying the problem; 2) generating alternative solutions; 3)
Aggressive Youth. Champaign, IL: considering the consequences of each solution; 4) selecting an effective
Describes a three-part training response; and 5) evaluating outcomes of that response.1
approach to train adolescents in The intervention is usually taught in ten to twenty 45-60 minute sessions.
aggression replacement therapy.
Training typically lasts between six and eighteen weeks. Activities include
group discussions, role-playing, modeling of appropriate behaviors, simulation
games, and examples on videotape. Usually between six and ten youth
participate, but an entire class may receive the intervention. Group rules are
PAVNET Online: Partnership Against established in the first session. Sessions may have one leader or two, including a
Violence Network. school staff member (counselor, teacher, or psychologist) and a community
Links to resources on anger mental health professional.
management and other youth What We Know
violence prevention techniques.
Anger management training can decrease the aggressive behavior of at-risk
students in the short-term. Students trained in anger management have been
2675 Folsom Street, Suite 200
found to decrease their disruptive and aggressive behaviors both at home and in
San Francisco, CA 94110 the classroom, and display greater self control.2 In one program, 48 at-risk
1-800-741-9473 middle schoolers had significantly fewer office referrals as a result of ten weeks
www.sera.com of training in the Think First curriculum.3
This organization provides Although we know there are short term benefits of anger management, long-
information on anger management term results have been inconsistent. For instance, a three-year follow-up study
training and other resources
developed by practitioners. of aggressive elementary school boys showed decreased drug and alcohol
involvement and improved self-esteem, but no change in delinquent behavior.4
However, 7 to 13 year-old children in a psychiatric ward who received problem-
solving skills training decreased their problem behaviors in a one-year follow-
Making It Work
Although students have been shown to benefit from In the short-term, anger management techniques have
anger management training, the effectiveness of the generally been shown to have positive effects on the
intervention depends on a number of factors. delinquent and problem behaviors of aggressive students.
Length of treatment. The effectiveness of anger Students who receive anger management training showed
management training may depend on how many sessions decreased drug and alcohol usage, increased self-esteem,
are provided. Generally, six sessions have failed to and decreased problem behaviors, although the intervention
produce changes in the aggressiveness of students. Twelve did not change delinquent behavior. Long-term benefits of
sessions have had positive effects on the aggressiveness of anger management training still need to be proven. The
students and eighteen sessions have further enhanced success of anger management training is, in part, dependent
these positive outcomes. Additionally, holding booster on the length of treatment and how the treatment is framed
sessions one year after the initial intervention improves for the students. Students who engage in supplemental
the long-term outcomes for students.6 Thus, current interventions, such as goal setting or aggression replacement
knowledge suggests that a greater number of sessions with training, show enhanced improvements in behavior and
booster sessions held after one year will contribute to the attitude. Overall, anger management is a promising
effectiveness of the intervention. intervention that can be used to help decrease disruptive and
Framing the training. To ensure the effectiveness of violent behavior in aggressive students.
anger management, some program developers have noted
that training may need to be made relevant to the students Russell Skiba and Janet McKelvey
being trained. For instance, aggressive students seem to
have a strong need for retaliation. They often consider
having the last word or striking the last blow to be a
win. Trainers can work with students to help them
understand that, if they respond when provoked, they have References
Spivak, G., Platt, J., & Shure, M. (1976). The problem-solving
been manipulated into losing control of themselves (e.g., approach to adjustment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
they lose). In order to win, they must learn to walk 2
Feindler, E.L., Marriot, S.A., & Iwata, M. (1984). Group anger
away. Framing the training in terms of the youths control for junior high school delinquents. Cognitive Therapy &
understanding seems to increase the effectiveness of the Research, 8(3), 299-311.
Larson, J.D. (1992). Anger and aggression management techniques
through the Think First curriculum. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation
Supplemental interventions. The benefits of anger 18, 101-117.
management training can be enhanced if supplemented 4
Lochman, J.E. (1992). Cognitive-behavioral intervention with
with other interventions. For instance, students asked to aggressive boys: Three-year follow-up and preventive effects. Journal of
set weekly goals in addition to anger management training Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 60(3), 426-432.
Kazdin, A.E., Esveldt-Dawson, K., French, N.H., & Unis, A.S.
showed greater decreases in their disruptive behavior.8 A (1987). Problem-solving skills training and relationship therapy in the
more comprehensive approach, aggression replacement treatment of antisocial child behavior. Journal of Consulting and Clinical
training, incorporates moral education and structured Psychology, 55(1), 76-85.
training in addition to anger management. Students who
See Lochman (1992) above.
Coie, J. D., Underwood, M., & Lochman, J.E. (1991).
received aggression replacement training showed
Programmatic intervention with aggressive children in the school setting.
increases in moral reasoning, engaged in more productive In D. Pepler & K. H. Rubin (Eds) The development and treatment of
interactions with others, and improved their ability to childhood aggression, pp.389-410. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
solve social problems.9 8
Lochman, J.E., Burch, P.R., Curry, J.F., & Lampron, L.B. (1984).
Treatment and generalization effects of cognitive-behavioral and goal
setting interventions with aggressive boys. Journal of Consulting and
Conclusions Clinical Psychology, 52(5), 915-916.
Anger management provides students with tools to 9
Glick, B. & Goldstein, A.P. (1987). Aggression replacement
control their actions and reactions in a potential conflict. training. Journal of Counseling and Development, 65, 356-362.
About the Safe & Responsive Schools Project
The Safe and Responsive Schools Project, funded by a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education
Programs, is dedicated to developing and studying prevention-based approaches to school safety. The Project is currently working with schools in
districts in Indiana and Nebraska to integrate best-practice strategies in school violence prevention into comprehensive school-based plans for
deterring school disruption and violence.
Indiana: Indiana University/Richland-Bean Blossom Community Schools/ Nebraska: University of Nebraska/Beatrice Public Schools
Spencer-Owen Community Schools
Contact: Dr. Russell Skiba, Indiana Education Policy Center Contact: Dr. Reece Peterson
170 Smith Research Center 202A Barkley Center
2805 E. 10th Street University of Nebraska-Lincoln Center
Bloomington, IN 47408 Lincoln, Nebraska 68583-0732
812-855-1240 402-472-5480 © Russell Skiba & Reece Peterson (3/00)
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