Principal Investigator: Albert Farrell

Level of Intervention: Universal

Target Population: Urban, primarily African American middle school students

References: Farrell, Meyer & White (in press)

Theory (Risk & Protective Factors Targeted):
RIPP is a violence prevention curriculum that focuses on social/cognitive skill building to promote nonviolent conflict resolution and positive communication. The program is grounded in social/cognitive learning theory and targets the influence of intra-personal attributes, behaviors, and environmental factors, following Perry and Jessor’s (1985) health promotion model to reduce risk factors associated with violence by promoting nonviolent alternatives.

Description of Intervention:
The 25-session sixth grade curriculum is taught during a 45-minute class period (usually social studies or health education) once per week. The program uses adult role models to teach knowledge, attitudes and skills that emphasize nonviolence and promote positive communication. The program uses team building activities along with small group work, role plays, relaxation techniques and repetition and rehearsal. The curriculum was accompanied by a peer mediation program at each school.

Three African-American males trained as prevention specialists implemented the program in three urban middle schools. A detailed implementation manual was used to increase consistency of implementation.

Research Subjects:
The study sample consisted of 602 sixth grade students (approximately ½ of the sixth grade class, 295 intervention and 307 control) at each of three middle schools in inner-city Richmond, Virginia. Sample students were approximately 50% male and female within each condition, most were between 11 and 12 years old, and 96% were African American.

Research Design:
A randomized controlled trial was conducted with sixth grade classes within each school randomly assigned to intervention or control groups.

At post test, administrative data indicate that RIPP participants showed a significantly lower rates of fighting, bringing weapons to school, and in-school suspensions than control subjects. RIPP students were also more likely to utilize the peer mediation program, and scored higher than controls on the RIPP knowledge test. After controlling for pretest group differences and attrition effects, no significant effects were found for fighting, out-of-school suspension, or 4 self-report measures of behavior and adjustment; effects for in-school suspension and weapon carrying were sustained.

Strengths & Limitations:
The Responding in Peaceful and Positive Ways program is a narrowly focused social/cognitive skill building program focused specifically on the prevention of violence. The program targets individual student skills and knowledge in the classroom context. Observational measures of implementation fidelity support that the program was generally implemented as planned. The study design was sound, although there was no external control for spillover effects from intervention classrooms within mixed schools. There were pretest differences between control and intervention groups as well as significant differences between the subjects assessed and those lost through attrition, however these differences were recognized and controlled for in the statistical analysis. It is noteworthy that the significant behavioral effects were found on measures of administrative data, but not on self-report measures. The homogeneity of the sample may limit its generalizability.

The findings of this study are bolstered by the fact that the RIPP program evolved from earlier research by Farrell, et al. on the Richmond Youth Against Violence program. A program similar to RIPP but offering a lower "dosage," Richmond Youth Against Violence produced significant reductions in physical fighting for treatment group boys, though no effects were found for girls.

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