Teaching leadership skills and problem solving to elementary school girls prevents aggression

A study from Philadelphia (USA) suggests that educators, especially in elementary school, should teach their students problem-solving skills and should provide opportunities to develop leadership skills to prevent aggression. relationship in the future.

the relational aggression it includes gossiping and social exclusion to hurt others, and it is the most common form of aggression among girls.

The study tests the effectiveness of an assault prevention program

A recent study was conducted by the Violence Prevention Initiative (VPI) at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and indicates that teaching leadership skills and providing girls with opportunities to develop leadership skills prevents relationship aggression between these.

The study was published in The Journal Psychology of Violence, and a random sample of African American girls in grades three to five (boys ages 8 to 11) was used to test the program’s effectiveness in prevention of “Friend to Friend” (F2F) aggression.

First violence prevention program that demonstrates its effectiveness even one year after its completion

F2F is the first and only aggression prevention program that demonstrates its effectiveness in reducing relational aggression behavior between girls and which, in addition, their positive results continue even a year after completing the program. This program improves skills and knowledge in solving social problems and results in decreased levels of relationship aggression.

“It is important to include the learning of these types of skills in the school curriculum, because boys who attend school, especially in marginal areas, are at serious risk of acquiring emotional and behavioral problems,” explains Dr Stephen Leff, director of this study and co-director of the Violence Prevention Initiative (GPI).

“This is proof that having problem-solving skills and having the opportunity to develop leadership skills increases resilience and guides to a better future in terms of social interactions. This positive approach is instilled in the programs. Prevention students who are part of our violence prevention initiative at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, ”adds Dr. Leff.

A program more than ten years old

The research team has been developing and redefining the program over the past ten years thanks to the various researches it has carried out at CHOP, in partnership with key players in the community. “This associative approach was used to develop the F2F program and to innovate the teaching modalities used in the program itself, such as drawings, videos or role-playing”, explains Brooke Paskewich, psychologist and director of the VPI. .

In addition, she explains that “the involvement of pupils, teachers and parents in the design of the program has helped to ensure their cultural sensitivity, adequate development and appropriate use for ethnic minorities”.

F2F, which was used in this study, is a 20 session program that lasted 40 minutes per session. He taught strategies for solving social problems and offered the girls the opportunity to conduct classroom sessions for their peers. A pilot study published in 2009 has already advanced the effectiveness of the F2F program in reducing relationship aggression in elementary school girls in two American schools.

The current study involved 144 aggressive (relationship aggressiveness) girls from 44 different classrooms in the District of Philadelphia. Subjects were randomly assigned to the F2F group and the control group to conduct the research.

Tips for Designing a Successful School Assault Prevention Program

Dr. Leff, after analyzing the results of his study, offers the following suggestions for the design and evaluation of successful assault prevention programs:

  • Aggression should be defined in general termsThat is, like any action taken by a child that inflicts physical or mental harm on another child.
  • Programs should focus on prevention and early intervention
  • Programs should emphasize positive social behavior: Prosocial behaviors, anger management and respect for peers and adults.
  • You have to pay attention to recognition and understand the different types of aggression: for example, girls most often express relational aggression and boys are more likely to engage in acts of physical aggression.
  • We need to be culturally sensitive and encourage collaboration between schools, families and neighborhoods.
  • Aggression prevention programs should be designed to meet the specific needs and values ​​of the school and its community.
  • They must integrate a strong research component and measure the results. Long-term effects should also be evaluated.
  • More than in the classroom, aggression prevention programs should be conducted in natural environments: for example, play areas.

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