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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development
personal conflict as well as new ways to interpret other people’s behaviors so that they do not misinterpret social interactions as more hostile or demeaning than they actually are. These skills in turn are assumed to help the adolescent cope better with interpersonal interactions likely to reinforce depression and conflict. The Penn Prevention Project has extensive program materials and training manuals to help organizations implement the program based on its principles (Shatté and Reivich, no date).
Do multiyear programs foster more enduring benefits than short-term program interventions? Four programs involving adolescents come close to meeting the multiyear criteria, but only two, the Improving Social Awareness-Social Problem Solving (ISA-SPS) and the Bullying Prevention Program, actually extended beyond one year. The ISA-SPS two-year program targeted the transition to middle school by focusing on changing the school culture. The social problem-solving curriculum in ISA-SPS has three phases. The readiness phase emphasized teaching self-control, group participation, and social awareness. In the instructional phase, teachers teach social decision-making and problem-solving strategies. In the final application phase, teachers extend the curriculum to real-life conflicts in which the students are helped to use problem-solving skills to solve their conflicts through modeling, direct instruction, and group discussion. In the evaluation reviewed, positive gains in the youth’s interpersonal behaviors (see Table 6–1 for details) were maintained for six years after exposure to the intervention.
The Bullying Prevention Program, part of a national campaign against bullying in Norway, lasted two years. It is a school-based universal prevention program focused on reducing bullying problems by increasing awareness and knowledge of the problem, involving teachers and parents together with adolescents in discussing these problems, establishing clear rules against bullying behavior, and providing support and protection for bullying victims. In the evaluation of this program reviewed by Greenberg, there were decreases in bullying for the “treated” adolescents. The positive effects of this program were maintained at least through the 20-month follow-up assessment.
The other two programs, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the School Transition Environmental Project, were 9 to 12 months in length. Mentors in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program (described in more detail later in this chapter) met with their assigned child three times per month for three to four hours for at least one year. Treatment effects were found across multiple outcome measures ranging from hitting behavior