Rationale: Evaluations of school-based violence prevention efforts show promising results
Though relatively few school-based violence prevention efforts have been rigorously evaluated, the results of published studies are encouraging, as the following examples demonstrate. The majority of published evaluations have been conducted in the United States and other developed countries, however, examples of efforts in different international contexts are included throughout the document.
• In a report of 12 case studies describing promising violence-prevention programmes across the United States, Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) found positive effects (as indicated by preliminary programme evaluations) on student knowledge, attitudes and behaviour; teacher attitudes and competence in violence-prevention skills; school climate; school statistics in violence/behaviour; programme implementation; and general response to/support of programmes.(20)
• To assess the Norwegian Ministry of Education's national programme to reduce bullying in elementary schools, Olweus (21) followed four cohorts of 600-700 pupils each and found that frequency of bullying decreased by 50 percent or more during the two years following the campaign.(22) Researchers also noted reduced rates in antisocial behaviour such as theft, vandalism and truancy. Findings were consistent among boys and girls and across all grades. The effects of the intervention were more significant after two years than after one year.
• In a recent evaluation of Second Step: A Violence Prevention Curriculum, which is used in over 10,000 elementary schools in the United States and Canada (23), observations of 588 students in the classroom and playground/cafeteria settings indicated that the curriculum led to a moderate decrease in physically aggressive behaviour and an increase in pro-social behaviour in school.
• In a review of programmes designed to reduce adolescent violence, Tolan and Guerra (24) found that there is support for programmes that combine generic problem-solving skills with other specific cognitive skills and programmes that are based on real-life skills and situations. They also found clear evidence that family-targeted interventions focusing on improving parent behaviour, management skills, promoting emotional cohesion within the family and assisting family problem solving are effective in reducing adolescent violence. Regarding school-based interventions, the authors noted that parental access to teachers, parental support for school efforts and more opportunities for parents to have valued roles in schools seem beneficial. Also effective was to motivate high-risk youth to attend and perform in school and engage in pro-social community activities, and to provide youth with opportunities to have more pro-social roles in schools and communities.
• Upon the request of UNESCO, the International Centre for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (ICCCR) conducted a study to identify school-based programmes attempting to overcome violence in urban communities through peaceful conflict resolution and mediation. Over 200 knowledgeable individuals and organisations around the world were surveyed and a subsequent report provides case studies of eight programmes (from Australia, Japan, USA, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Israel, Norway and France), in addition to data drawn from 22 other programmes. The report provides information concerning the staffing, funding, size and scope, training, student involvement and teaching methods used in the different programmes. Regarding programme effectiveness, the report concludes:
"There is considerable evidence from questionnaires and interviews that these programmes are well-regarded by teachers, students, parents and administrators. There are also many anecdotal reports that they reduce violence in schools. In addition, there is a small body of systematic research indicating that students in the programmes develop better social skills, more self-esteem, a greater sense of personal control over their lives and higher academic achievement."(25)
ICCCR encourages further research to determine the conditions for the success of programmes and what kinds of programmes are most effective.
• In a review of evidence of school effectiveness, Clive Harber of the University of Natal concluded that democratically organized schools are effective in "fostering the democratic values which are conducive to the non-violent resolution of conflict." For example, Harber noted that classroom management which encourages student participation, development of civic attitudes, and a learner-centred curriculum employing democratic and cooperative teaching methods have been shown to reduce inter-ethnic conflict and to promote cross-cultural understanding. In addition, such schools show evidence of effectiveness in the "more conventional and traditional sense of being better organized and achieving better results," including better examination results, better behaviour and attendance and less delinquency. (26)
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