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Intervention Summary

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Aggressors, Victims, and Bystanders: Thinking and Acting To Prevent Violence

Aggressors, Victims, and Bystanders: Thinking and Acting To Prevent Violence (AVB) is a curriculum designed to prevent violence and inappropriate aggression among middle school youth, particularly those living in environments with high rates of exposure to violence. Based on research demonstrating the role of cognitive patterns in mediating aggressive behavior, AVB addresses the differing roles that individuals typically play in promoting or preventing violence.

The core objectives of AVB are to encourage young people to examine their roles as aggressors, victims, and bystanders; develop and practice problem-solving skills; rethink beliefs that support the use of aggression; and generate new ways of thinking about and responding to conflict in each of these roles. A central feature of the curriculum is its four-step Think-First Model of Conflict Resolution. This model helps students pause and reflect when confronted with a conflict so they can define the situation in ways that lead to effective, positive solutions. The curriculum is presented in 12 45-minute classroom sessions conducted 1 to 3 times per week over 4 to 12 weeks. AVB can be taught by health educators, language arts teachers, police officers, school resource/safety officers, or physical education instructors.

Descriptive Information

Areas of Interest Mental health promotion
Outcomes Review Date: January 2009
1: Social problem-solving skills
2: Beliefs about the use of violence
3: Behavioral intentions as aggressor
4: Behavioral intentions as bystander
Outcome Categories Social functioning
Violence
Ages 6-12 (Childhood)
13-17 (Adolescent)
Genders Male
Female
Races/Ethnicities Asian
Black or African American
Hispanic or Latino
White
Race/ethnicity unspecified
Settings School
Geographic Locations Urban
Implementation History Since the AVB curriculum was first published in 1994, it has been implemented in more than 1,500 schools in 49 States, 2 U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia and has reached an estimated 275,000 students. At least three sites have conducted systematic evaluations of AVB.
NIH Funding/CER Studies Partially/fully funded by National Institutes of Health: No
Evaluated in comparative effectiveness research studies: No
Adaptations No population- or culture-specific adaptations of the intervention were identified by the developer.
Adverse Effects No adverse effects, concerns, or unintended consequences were identified by the developer.
IOM Prevention Categories Universal
Selective

Quality of Research
Review Date: January 2009

Documents Reviewed

The documents below were reviewed for Quality of Research. The research point of contact can provide information regarding the studies reviewed and the availability of additional materials, including those from more recent studies that may have been conducted.

Study 1

Slaby, R. G., Wilson-Brewer, R., & DeVos, E. (1994). Aggressors, Victims, & Bystanders: An assessment-based middle school violence prevention curriculum (Final Report of Grant # R494CCR103559). Newton, MA: Education Development Center.

Outcomes

Outcome 1: Social problem-solving skills
Description of Measures Middle school students completed the Social Problem-Solving Skills measure, which assesses how children think about solving social problems. The questionnaire presents vignettes depicting conflicts from the perspective of the aggressor, victim, and bystander. For each vignette, the questionnaire lists one adversarial and one nonadversarial definition of both the problem and goal. Respondents indicate on a 4-point scale their level of agreement with each problem and goal statement and list possible solutions and consequences. In the vignette told from the victim's perspective, a child has just enough money for a soda from the soda machine, and another child says, "Give me your money."
Key Findings Students receiving the AVB curriculum showed a significant pretest-to-posttest increase in identifying the desired nonadversarial goal ("What you want is to get a drink," p < .05) and decrease in identifying the less desirable adversarial goal ("What you want is to show the other kid that you won't be pushed around," p < .05) in the victim-perspective situation. Students who did not receive the AVB curriculum showed no change in skills.
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 2.2 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 2: Beliefs about the use of violence
Description of Measures Middle school students completed a questionnaire addressing their beliefs about the use of aggression in solving social problems. Respondents indicated on a 4-point scale their level of agreement with each of the presented belief statements. The statements were factor analyzed, resulting in the following subscales: positive outcome for aggression, aggression legitimate, aggression inappropriate, and aggression and victimization only alternatives.
Key Findings Students receiving the AVB curriculum showed a significant pretest-to-posttest decrease in the belief that aggression is legitimate (e.g., "It's okay for you to fight other kids," p < .05), while students who did not receive the AVB curriculum showed no change in beliefs.
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 2.2 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 3: Behavioral intentions as aggressor
Description of Measures Middle school students completed a questionnaire that presents vignettes depicting conflicts from the perspective of the aggressor, victim, and bystander. For each vignette, the questionnaire lists five possible responses to the conflict that correspond with physical aggression, verbal aggression, avoidance, information seeking, and problem solving. Students rank the options in the order in which they would most likely respond. In one of the two vignettes told from the aggressor's perspective, a child goes to the basketball court to practice for tryouts for the team but does not have a ball. The child sees another child sitting on the court, twirling his basketball, and asks him if he can use his ball for a while. That child responds, "no."
Key Findings Students receiving the AVB curriculum showed a significant pretest-to-posttest decrease in their intention to respond with physical aggression ("Grab the ball away from the kid," p < .05). These students also showed a significant increase in their intention to seek more information ("Ask the kid why they won't let you use the ball," p < .05) and avoid interaction ("Leave the kid alone and forget about practicing that afternoon," p < .05). In contrast, students who did not receive the AVB curriculum showed no change in intentions.
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 2.2 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 4: Behavioral intentions as bystander
Description of Measures Middle school students completed a questionnaire that presents vignettes depicting conflicts from the perspective of the aggressor, victim, and bystander. For each vignette, the questionnaire lists five possible responses to the conflict that correspond with physical aggression, verbal aggression, avoidance, information seeking, and problem solving. Students rank the options in the order in which they would most likely respond. In one of the two vignettes told from the bystander's perspective, a child goes to the park and sees two other children start fighting by pushing and hitting each other.

In one of the three participating schools, physical education teachers who were in regular contact with the students but were not involved in the curriculum implementation rated each student's behavior in the past 2 weeks on a number of subscales, including the bystander subscale. Teachers rated behavior using a 5-point scale from "never" to "always."
Key Findings Students receiving the AVB curriculum showed a significant pretest-to-posttest decrease in their bystander support for aggression through either avoidance ("Walk away and let the two kids fight it out," p < .01) or verbal aggression ("Cheer for one of the kids to beat the other," p < .01). Students who did not receive the AVB curriculum showed no change in intentions.

Teacher ratings of their students' passive bystander behavior (e.g., "Just lets a fight start without doing anything to stop it") showed a significant pretest-to-posttest decrease for students receiving the AVB curriculum (p < .001) but no change for students who did not receive the curriculum.
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 2.2 (0.0-4.0 scale)

Study Populations

The following populations were identified in the studies reviewed for Quality of Research.

Study Age Gender Race/Ethnicity
Study 1 6-12 (Childhood)
13-17 (Adolescent)
54% Female
46% Male
73% Black or African American
9% Hispanic or Latino
8% Race/ethnicity unspecified
6% White
4% Asian

Quality of Research Ratings by Criteria (0.0-4.0 scale)

External reviewers independently evaluate the Quality of Research for an intervention's reported results using six criteria:

  1. Reliability of measures
  2. Validity of measures
  3. Intervention fidelity
  4. Missing data and attrition
  5. Potential confounding variables
  6. Appropriateness of analysis

For more information about these criteria and the meaning of the ratings, see Quality of Research.

Outcome Reliability
of Measures
Validity
of Measures
Fidelity Missing
Data/Attrition
Confounding
Variables
Data
Analysis
Overall
Rating
1: Social problem-solving skills 2.5 3.0 1.0 2.0 2.0 2.5 2.2
2: Beliefs about the use of violence 2.5 3.0 1.0 2.0 2.0 2.5 2.2
3: Behavioral intentions as aggressor 2.5 3.0 1.0 2.0 2.0 2.5 2.2
4: Behavioral intentions as bystander 2.5 3.0 1.0 2.0 2.0 2.5 2.2

Study Strengths

The measures used in the study were adapted from ones used in previous research and showed high test-retest reliability, internal consistency among subscale items, and predictive validity. The authors verified the appropriateness of the measures in a pilot study. The analyses included only students for whom pretest and posttest data were available, and the percentage of students with both sets of data did not appear to differ substantially between treatment and control groups.

Study Weaknesses

Teachers assigned to implement the intervention received minimal training in administering the curriculum. Classroom observations confirmed that the curriculum was not implemented consistently across study classrooms. Despite attempts to ensure the completion of surveys, data collection was inconsistent. Response rates varied by instrument, and there were problems with attrition due to the rate of high absenteeism. Only one of the three schools included teacher ratings of students' violence-related behaviors. The small percentage of students assigned to the control group likely limited the power to detect treatment and control group differences. It is not clear whether alpha correction for multiple comparisons was used.

Readiness for Dissemination
Review Date: January 2009

Materials Reviewed

The materials below were reviewed for Readiness for Dissemination. The implementation point of contact can provide information regarding implementation of the intervention and the availability of additional, updated, or new materials.

Aggressors, Victims, and Bystanders training agenda

Education Development Center. (2007). Aggressors, Victims, and Bystanders training. Newton, MA: Author.

Education Development Center. (n.d.). Aggressors, Victims, and Bystanders: Thinking and Acting To Prevent Violence. Student handouts and transparencies. Newton, MA: Author.

Program Web site, http://www.thtm.org

Slaby, R. G., Wilson-Brewer, R., & Dash, K. (1994). Aggressors, Victims, and Bystanders: Thinking and Acting To Prevent Violence. Newton, MA: Education Development Center.

Readiness for Dissemination Ratings by Criteria (0.0-4.0 scale)

External reviewers independently evaluate the intervention's Readiness for Dissemination using three criteria:

  1. Availability of implementation materials
  2. Availability of training and support resources
  3. Availability of quality assurance procedures

For more information about these criteria and the meaning of the ratings, see Readiness for Dissemination.

Implementation
Materials
Training and Support
Resources
Quality Assurance
Procedures
Overall
Rating
3.5 3.0 2.0 2.8

Dissemination Strengths

Implementation materials include sufficient background information as well as clear guidance for addressing sensitive issues. A comprehensive training supplemented by a formal curriculum is available to implementers through an annual training at the developer's site or through on-site training provided by a national network of certified trainers. The program developer is available to answer implementer questions and provide consultation via e-mail and phone. Several scales are recommended to support a systematic evaluation of some outcomes, and checklists included in the curriculum can be used to support implementation fidelity.

Dissemination Weaknesses

The method for accessing training and support is unclear, as are the scope and extent of available support. No clear process for assessing implementation fidelity or effectiveness is described. The outcome and fidelity tools lack sufficient detail on using the tools and interpreting results.

Costs

The cost information below was provided by the developer. Although this cost information may have been updated by the developer since the time of review, it may not reflect the current costs or availability of items (including newly developed or discontinued items). The implementation point of contact can provide current information and discuss implementation requirements.

Item Description Cost Required by Developer
Program materials $69.95 per set Yes
2-day Teacher Training in Newton, MA $350 per person No
3-day Train-the-Trainer in Newton, MA $450 per person No
On-site training Varies depending on individual trainer fees No
Technical assistance via phone or email Free No
On-site technical assistance Varies depending on site needs and travel requirements No
Three-part curriculum quiz Included in cost of program materials No
Violence Prevention Efficacy Scale Free No
Beliefs Supporting Violence Scale Free No
Self-Rated Behavior Scale Free No
Replications

No replications were identified by the developer.

Contact Information

To learn more about implementation or research, contact:
Ronald Slaby, Ph.D.
(781) 789-8229
rslaby@rcn.com

Consider these Questions to Ask (PDF, 54KB) as you explore the possible use of this intervention.