To classify features of effective violence prevention programs for 7- to 14-year-olds according to children's risk groups and targeted behaviors.
Articles published between 1980 and 1999 were identified via electronic databases (MEDLINE, ERIC, PsychINFO) using the key words violence, violence prevention, youth violence, or aggressive behavior. Reference lists were hand-searched for additional publications.
One hundred fifty-three articles were reviewed with a modified scale by one of the principal investigators/authors (W.O.C. or M.L.) and a research assistant (K.F.); the other principal investigator resolved any discrepancies. Articles were included if they reported prevention efforts in 7- to 14-year-olds and compared outcome measures, met requirements for scientific rigor, and reported significant improvements (effect size, >0.1 or P≤.05). Sixty-seven percent (n = 102) did not meet the inclusion criteria. Of the remaining 51 articles (33%), 38 met requirements for scientific rigor, and 32 articles describing 25 programs reported significant improvements in at least 1 area.
Twenty-five programs indicated significant improvements in attitudes, knowledge, or intentions (n = 10) and/or reduction in delinquency rates and violent and/or aggressive behavior (n = 11); significant changes in both types of outcomes were indicated in 4 programs. Most programs (n = 13) targeted older children (aged 11-14 years) and focused on fighting (n = 13) and conflict management (n = 14). Classroom teaching was the most common process (n = 18) used. Few programs (n = 7) involved family intervention.
Although limited in number, effective youth violence prevention programs were identified from current literature. Study findings were compiled into a database outlining effective processes for specific sociodemographic and risk behavior groups that will be helpful to future program planning.