NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Course Helps Students Unlearn Violence

May 28, 1997

In fewer than six months, children can be rehabilitated from a tendency toward violent behavior, according to a study from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

  • The study compared aggressive behavior among 790 second- and third-graders at 12 schools in Washington state -- half the students having been taught a violence prevention curriculum, the other half not.
  • At a final evaluation, those who had taken the course exhibited about 30 fewer acts of aggressive behavior every day than children who did not take the course.
  • Aggressive behavior -- including hitting, kicking and shoving -- increased in students who did not take the course.

The training course, called Second Step, was developed in 1986 by a Seattle educator. It involves 35-minute weekly or twice-weekly sessions designed to teach empathy, problem solving and anger management to children ranging in age from pre-school through ninth grade.

Second Step is used in about 10,000 schools in the U.S. and Canada. It is one of many programs designed to curb youth violence. Researchers involved in the evaluation said their findings are evidence that other such efforts can also work.

Source: AP, "Anti-Violence Course in Schools Does Its Job, Researchers Find," New York Times, May 28, 1997.


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