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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development
assertiveness, communication skills, feelings of self-confidence, and skill performance, assets consistent with the committee’s framework. More specifically, the meta-analysis of the primary prevention programs (Durlak and Wells, 1997) revealed that most programs significantly reduced problems (e.g., anxiety, behavior problems, and depressive symptoms) and increased competencies.
Durlak and Wells (1997, 1998) also compared the effects of environment-centered versus person-centered approaches. Person-centered programs worked directly with individuals using techniques based on social learning theory (either modeling appropriate behaviors or reinforcing appropriate behaviors) and other direct instructional approaches focused on educational and interpersonal problem solving. Environment-centered programs tried to change either the home setting (through parent education about child development and changing parental attitudes and childrearing techniques when appropriate) or the school setting (often through teacher training in interactive instructional techniques and classroom management skills). Parent education was often used as a general descriptor, but all of the person-centered programs were effective for some outcomes, particularly for increasing competencies. Of the environment-centered approaches, only school-based programs were effective, and these were more effective at increasing competencies than reducing problems. Most of the school-based environment-centered programs focused on changing the psychological and social aspects of the classroom environment through increasing either interactive instructional techniques or effective classroom management techniques.
In their secondary prevention meta-analysis, Durlak and Wells (1998) compared the effectiveness of behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, and nonbehavioral treatments.2 In general, all three treatments were effective at both problem reduction and competency enhancement. In addition, cognitive-behavior treatment was more effective than either behavioral treatment or nonbehavioral treatment at reducing mental health problems, and the behavioral treatments were more effective than the nonbehavioral treatment at improving children’s competencies.
Reinforcement, modeling, and desensitization procedures were the behavioral treatments used in these interventions. The cognitive-behavior treatments emphasized self-instructional training and other ways of using cognitive processes to modify behavior. The nonbehavioral treatments mostly used classic talking analytic techniques (the classic situation in which a client talks with a therapist about his or her problems or concerns) for older children and activity-oriented play therapy for younger children.