Skills training and social influences for violence prevention in middle schools: A curriculum evaluation

Pamela Konig Orpinas, The University of Texas School of Public Health


This pilot study evaluated the effect of skills training and of social influences on self-reported aggressive behavior in a sample of 239 sixth-grade students. The effect of two intervention groups and one control group were compared. In the first intervention group, a 15-session, violence-prevention curriculum was taught by the teacher. In the second intervention group, the same curriculum was taught by the teacher with the assistance of peer leaders trained to modify social norms about violence. The control group was evaluated but did not receive any training. The design included four schools. In two schools, three classes were assigned to one of the two interventions or to the control group. In the other two schools, two classes were assigned to either intervention (teacher only) or control. Students were evaluated before and after the implementation of the curriculum using a standardized questionnaire. The primary outcome was the effect of the curriculum and peer leaders on self-reported aggressive behaviors. The secondary outcome was their impact on intervening variables: knowledge about violence, conflict-resolution skills, self-efficacy, and attitudes. The intervention had a moderate effect on reducing self-reported aggressive behaviors among boys in two of the six classes that received the curriculum. Both classes with peer leaders reduced their aggressive behavior, but this reduction was significant in only one. A peer leader selection problem could probably explain this lack of effect. In three of the four schools, both interventions had an overall significant effect on increasing knowledge about violence and skills to reduce violence. Students also developed a more negative attitude toward violence after the intervention. As hypothesized, attitude change was stronger among students from the teacher plus peer leader group. No intervention effect was observed on self-efficacy nor on attitudes toward skills to reduce violence. Limitations of the study and implications for violence prevention in schools are discussed.

Subject Area

Public health|Elementary education|Behaviorial sciences

Recommended Citation

Orpinas, Pamela Konig, "Skills training and social influences for violence prevention in middle schools: A curriculum evaluation" (1993). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9401778.