This project will evaluate the benefit of an enhanced social development program in grades
3-6 to decrease the onset of risky behaviors in pre-adolescents.
Educational programs to promote the adoption of healthy behaviors and to decrease the onset
of risky behaviors in pre-adolescents are far more likely to be successful than attempts to
alter established patterns of high-risk behaviors. The project involves an evaluation of a
comprehensive 4-year elementary school prevention initiative starting in 3rd grade. The
prevention initiative, grounded in social cognitive, influence, and development theories is
embedded within a pre-existing comprehensive elementary school social development program
and will employ an evidence-based social skills curriculum (PATHS) in selected schools. The
aim of the program is to teach children to use problem-solving and communication skills to
negotiate and prevent high-risk behaviors.
Students attending schools that will receive the enhanced social development program will be
compared to students attending schools that will receive the current, standard social
development curriculum. The study hypothesizes that students who participate in the 4-year
enhanced social development program will self-report fewer risk behaviors when surveyed by
the school system in grades 6-8.
- All regular education students, including students in bilingual classes
- Children attending special education classrooms.