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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development
crease in teacher reports of school problem behavior for the adolescents in the teen-focused treatment group at the one year follow-up. No explanations were provided for these patterns of results or for why school problem behavior may have increased in the teen-focused treatment group.
In the Coping with Stress Course, a subset of targeted adolescents with elevated self-reported depressive symptomatology were randomly assigned to 15 group clinical counseling sessions of 45 minutes each. The “treated” adolescents’ reports of depressive symptomatology declined more that the control adolescents from pretest to posttest, but this difference had disappeared by the 12-month follow-up. In contrast, however, there were fewer cases of major depressive disorder and dysthymia (a milder form of depression) in the treatment group than in the control group at the follow-up testing.
Only the Penn Prevention Project found unambiguous evidence of both follow-up and sleeper effects. This selected intervention program targeted children ages 10 to 13 at risk due to elevated depressive symptoms or family conflict. The randomly selected intervention groups met once each week for 12 weeks after school for 1.5 hours. Postintervention data showed fewer depressive symptoms, better classroom behavior, and reduced likelihood of attributing negative events to stable enduring causes for the treatment group compared with the “untreated” control group. While levels of both the experimental and control groups’ depressive symptomatology increased over the 24-month follow-up period in the Penn Prevention Project, this increase was larger in the control group than in the treatment group. Also, even though there were no significant differences at the posttest, parents of the intervention group reported more improvements in the children’s home behavior at the 24-month follow-up than parents of the control group. Effects were maintained at the 12-, 18-, and 24-month follow-ups. Interestingly, although this program is considered short-term, it was the only program of the six in this review focused on adolescents with follow-up data suggesting a possible sleeper effect in program benefits. This calls into question the claim that long-term interventions are needed for long-lasting effects.
What is most interesting about the Penn Prevention Project is that it has been implemented in a variety of in-school and out-of-school settings, including community-based organizations. It has also been evaluated repeatedly and has had good success at replication. The program consists primarily of training in self-management skills and social interpretative skills. The adolescents are taught new ways to cope with inter-