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Primary and Secondary Prevention Strategies for School-Based Conflict Management and Violence Prevention. Carl E. Paternite, Ph.D. Center for School-Based Mental Health Programs Department of Psychology Miami University (Ohio) Therese C. Johnston, Ph.D.

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Primary and Secondary Prevention Strategies for School-Based Conflict Management and Violence Prevention

Carl E. Paternite, Ph.D.

Center for School-Based Mental Health Programs

Department of Psychology

Miami University (Ohio)

Therese C. Johnston, Ph.D.

Positive Education Program (PEP)

Cleveland, Ohio

Presentation at the All Ohio Counselors Conference, Columbus, OH

November 8th, 2002


Instructional Objectives

  • Increase awareness of interpersonal conflict & violence as

barriers to student learning.

  • Increase awareness of the importance of school-based efforts to

implement conflict management & violence prevention programs.

  • Increase awareness of evidence-based primary & secondary

prevention programs.

  • Highlight cross-discipline collaboration to address emotional &

behavioral barriers to student learning.

mental health needs of youth and available services
Mental Health Needs of Youth and Available Services
  • By conservative estimation approximately 20% of children and adolescents need mental health intervention.
  • Less than one-third of these youth actually receive any service, and, of those who do, less than half receive adequate treatment.
  • For the small percentage of youth who do receive service, most actually receive it within a school setting.
  • These realities raise questions about the mental health field’s over-reliance on clinic-based treatment, and have reinforced the importance of alternative models for mental health service — especially expanded school-based programs.
expanded school based mental health programs
Expanded School-Based Mental Health Programs
  • National movement to place effective mental health programs in schools.
  • To promote the academic, behavioral, social, emotional, and contextual/systems well-being of youth, and to reduce “mental health” barriers to school success.
  • Programs incorporate primary prevention and mental health promotion, secondary prevention, and intensive intervention.
  • Intent is to contribute to building capacity for a comprehensive, multifaceted, and integrated system of support and care.
the ohio mental health network for school success h ttp www units muohio edu csbmhp network html
The Ohio Mental Health Network for School Success(


To help Ohio’s school districts, community-based agencies, and families work together to achieve improved educational and developmental outcomes for all children — especially those at emotional or behavioral risk and those with mental health problems, including pupils participating in alternative education programs.

the ohio mental health network for school success
The Ohio Mental Health Network for School Success

Action Agenda

  • Create awareness about the gap between children’s mental health needs and “treatment” resources, and encourage improved and expanded services.
  • Encourage mental health agencies and school districts to adopt mission statements that address the importance of partnerships.
  • Conduct surveys of mental health agencies and school districts to better define the mental health needs of children and to gather information about promising practices.
the ohio mental health network for school success7
The Ohio Mental Health Network for School Success

Action Agenda (continued)

  • Provide technical assistance to mental health agencies and school districts, to support adoption of evidence-based and promising practices, including improvement and expansion of school-based mental health services.
  • Develop a guide for education and mental health professionals and families, for the development of productive partnerships.
  • Assist in identification of sources of financial support for school-based mental health initiatives.
  • Assist university-based professional preparation programs in psychology, social work, public health, and education, in developing inter-professional strategies and practices for addressing the mental health needs of school-age children.
potential of schools as key points of engagement
Potential of Schools as Key Points of Engagement
  • Opportunities to engage youth where they are.
  • Unique opportunities for intensive, multifaceted approaches and are essential contexts for prevention and research activity.

Interconnected Systems for Meeting the Needs of All Students


(From Adelman & Taylor,

educators as key members of the mental health team
Educators as Key Members of the Mental Health Team
  • Schools should not be held responsible for meeting every need of every student.
  • However, schools must meet the challenge when the need directly affects learning and school success. (Carnegie Council Task Force on Education of Young Adolescents, 1989)
  • There is clear and compelling evidence that there are strong positive associations between mental health and school success.

Educators as Key Members of the Mental Health Team

  • “Children whose emotional, behavioral, or social difficulties are not addressed have a diminished capacity to learn and benefit from the school environment. In addition, children who develop disruptive behavior patterns can have a negative influence on the social and academic environment for other children.” (Rones & Hoagwood, 2000, p.236)
  • Contemporary school reform—and the associated high-stakes testing (including recently signed federal legislation)—has not incorporated the Carnegie Council imperative. That is, recent reform has not adequately incorporated a focus on addressing barriers to development, learning, and teaching.
Some of What We Know About Youth ViolenceFrom the Surgeon General (2001), U.S. Secret Service (2000),CDC (2002), Mulvey & Cauffman (2001)
  • Violence is a serious public health problem.
  • Violence is most often expressive/interpersonal, rather than primarily instrumental or psychopathological.
  • About 30 to 40 percent of male and 15 to 30 percent of female youth report having committed a serious violent offense by age 17.
  • About 10 to15 percent of high school seniors report that they have committed an assault with injury in the past year — a rate that has been rising since 1980.
  • By self-report, about 30 percent of high school seniors have committed a violent act in the past year — hit instructor or supervisor; serious fight at school or work; in group fight; assault with injury; used weapon (knife/gun/club) to get something from a person.
  • Violent acts are committed much more frequently by male than by female youth. (see Miedzian, 1991)
some of what we know about youth violence continued
Some of What We Know About Youth Violence (continued)
  • 43% of male and 24% of female high school students report that they had been in a physical fight during the past school year. (CDC, 2002)
  • No differences are evident by race for self-report of violent behavior.
  • At school, highest victimization rates are among male students.
  • Violent behavior seldom results from a single cause.
  • School continues to be one of the safest places for our nation’s children.
  • Serious acts of violence (e.g., shootings) at school are very rare.
  • Targeted violence at school is not a new phenomenon.
  • Most school shooters had a history of gun use and had access to them.
  • In over 2/3 of school shooting cases, having been bullied played a role in the attack.

“For every complex

problem there is a

simple solution that

is wrong.”

H.L. Mencken


Model: Influences on Violent versus

Non-Violent Behavior

(From Shapiro, 1999,Applewood Centers, Inc., Cleveland, OH)

prioritizing promotion of healthy development and violence prevention
Prioritizing Promotion of Healthy Development and Violence Prevention
  • School-based models should capitalize on schools’ unique opportunities to provide health-promoting activities.
  • Recommended strategies for violence prevention, including those for which the central role of educators is evident, can be promoted actively within an expanded school-based mental health program.

Some of What We Know AboutYouth Violence PreventionFrom the Surgeon General (2001), U.S. Secret Service (2000),CDC (2002), Mulvey & Cauffman (2001)

  • Promoting healthy relationships and environments is more effective for reducing school violence than instituting punitive penalties.
  • The best predictor of adolescent well-being is a feeling of connection to school. Students who feel close to others, fairly treated, and vested in school are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.
  • A critical component of any effective school violence program is a school environment in which ongoing activities and problems of students are discussed, rather than tallied. Such an environment promotes ongoing risk management, which depends on the support and involvement of those closest to the indicators of trouble — peers and teachers.
violence prevention what doesn t work from the surgeon general 2001 and others
Violence Prevention:What Doesn’t WorkFrom the Surgeon General (2001) and others
  • Scare tactics. (e.g., Scared Straight)
  • Deterrence programs — shock incarceration, boot camps.
  • Efforts focusing exclusively on providing education/information about drugs/violence and resistance. (DARE)
  • Efforts focusing solely on self-esteem enhancement.
  • Vocational counseling.
  • Residential treatment.
  • Traditional casework and clinic-based counseling.

Promoting Nonviolence: An

Example of a Heuristic

School-Based Framework

  • Deutsch (1993) — Educating for a peaceful world
  • Four Key Components Including:
    • Cooperative Learning.
    • Conflict Resolution Training.
    • Use of Constructive Controversy in Teaching Subject


    • Mediation in the Schools.
prioritizing promotion of healthy development and violence prevention best and promising practices
Prioritizing Promotion of Healthy Development and Violence Prevention:Best and Promising Practices


  • Structured social skill development programs.
  • Mentoring. (see Big Brothers/Sisters; Garbarino, 1999)
  • Employment.
  • Programs that foster school engagement, participation, and bonding.
  • Promotion of developmental assets. (see Search Institute)
  • A variety of approaches that engage parents and families. (e.g., parent

training, MST, functional FT)

  • Early childhood home visitation programs.
  • Multi-faceted programs that combine several of the above.
  • For good examples see “Blueprint Programs.”
developmental assets and violence 1997 data www search institute org
Developmental Assets and Violence(1997 data,

Approximately 100,000 6th-12th graders.

Definition of violence—three or more acts of fighting, hitting, injuring a person, carrying a weapon, or threatening physical harm in the past 12 months.

  • 61% of youth with fewer than 11 of 40 developmental assets were violent.
  • 6% of youth with 31 or more of 40 developmental assets were violent.
discipline defined
Discipline Defined
  • “The steps or actions, teachers, administrators, parents, and students follow to enhance student academic and social behavior success.”
  • “Effective discipline is described as teaching students self-control.”
reactive vs proactive
Reactive Vs. Proactive
  • Traditional approaches. (including aversive interventions)
    • Address problem behaviors reactively
    • Crisis driven
  • PBS emphasizes proactive interventions.
positive behavior support
Positive Behavior Support
  • PBS is the application of behavior analysis to achieve socially important behavior change.
  • Positive Behavior….
    • Includes all skills that increase success in home, school and community settings.
  • Supports….
    • Methods to teach, strengthen, and expand positive behaviors.
    • System change.
systems change
Systems Change


  • Efforts focused on fixing problem contexts, not problem behavior.
  • Successful outcomes can not depend solely on identifying ONE key critical intervention to “fix” the problem.
pbs interventions
PBS Interventions
  • Context driven.
  • Addressing the functionality of the behavior problem.
  • Acceptable to the individual, family and community.
pbs is a problem solving process
PBS is a Problem-Solving Process
  • Decisions are based upon functional behavioral assessment. (FBA)
  • FBA directs intervention design.
    • FBA establishes instructional targets for alternative skills
    • FBA designates supports and context revisions required for maintenance of positive changes
  • Improved quality of life for all relevant stakeholders. (the individual, family members, teachers, friends, employers, etc.)
  • Problem behaviors become irrelevant, inefficient, and ineffective and are replaced by efficient and effective alternatives.
components of school wide systems
Components of School-Wide Systems
  • Common philosophy.
  • Positively stated rules. (3 or 4)
  • Behavior expectations defined by context.
  • Teaching behavior expectations in context.
  • Reinforcement of expectations.
  • Discouragement of violations.
  • Monitor and evaluate effects.

Promoting Nonviolence: An Example of a Promising Violence Prevention Program

  • Positive Adolescent Choices Training (PACT)
  • Developed by
  • Betty R. Yung & W. Rodney Hammond
  • Components

I. Violence-Risk Education

II. Anger Management

  • III. Social Skills

PACT Components I and II

  • Violence Risk Education:
    • Increase awareness of circumstances, risk factors, and consequences of violence.
  • Anger Management:
    • Understand and normalize feelings of anger, recognize anger triggers, and manage anger constructively.

PACT Components III: Social Skills

  • Givin’ It:
    • Expressing criticism, disappointment, anger, or displeasure calmly and ventilating strong

emotions constructively.

  • Takin’ It:
    • Listening, understanding, and reacting appropriately to others’ criticism and anger.

Workin’ IT Out:

    • Listening, identifying problems and potential

solutions, proposing alternatives when

disagreements persist, and learning to




Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development’s Task Force on Education of Young Adolescents (1989). Turning points: Preparing American youth for the 21st century. Washington, DC: Author.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Surveillance summaries, June 28, 2002. MMWR 2002:51 (No. SS-4). (

Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, Institute of Behavioral Science. (1999). Blueprints for violence prevention. University of Colorado at Boulder: Author.

Deutsch, M. (1993). Educating for a peaceful world. American Psychologist, 48, 510-517.

Garbarino, J. (1999). Lost boys: Why our sons turn violent and how we can save them. New York: Anchor Books.

Miedzian, M. (1991). Boys will be boys: Breaking the link between masculinity and violence. New York: Anchor Books.

Mulvey, E.P. & Cauffman, E. (2001). The inherent limits of predicting school violence. American Psychologist, 56, 797-802.

O'Neil, R. E., Horner, R. H., Albin, R. W., Storey, K., Sprague, J. R., & Newton, J. S. (1997). Functional assessment and program development for problem behavior: A practical handbook. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

PBS Website:

Rones, M. & Hoagwood, K. (2000). School-based mental health services: A research review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 3, 223-241.


References (cont’d)

Search Institute:

Shapiro, J. The Peacemakers Program: Effective violence prevention for students in grades four through eight. Presented as part of a pre-conference session on innovative school-based approaches to address violence in youth, at the 4th National Conference on Advancing School-Based Mental Health Programs, Denver, September 16-18, 1999. (contact through Applewood Centers, Inc., Cleveland, OH).

Special Section on Urban Issues- Part 1 (2002). Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 4(4), 195-218.

Special Series on Positive Behavior Support in Schools (2002). Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders,10(3).

Sugai, G., Lewis-Palmer, T., & Hagan, S. (1998). Using functional assessments to develop behavior support plans. Preventing School Failure, 43(1), 6-13.

UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools:

University of Maryland at Baltimore Center for School Mental Health Assistance:

U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2001). Youth violence: A report of the Surgeon General. Washington, D. C.: Author.

Vossekuil, B. et al. (2000). U. S. Secret Service safe school initiative: An interim report on the prevention of targeted violence in schools. Washington, D. C.: U. S. Secret Service.

Yung, B. & Hammond, W. R. (1995). PACT — Positive Adolescent Choices Training: A model for violence prevention groups with African American youth. Program guide. Champaign, IL: Research Press.Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Surveillance summaries, June 28, 2002. MMWR 2002:51 (No. SS-4). (