This paper reports on a randomized clinical trial that examined the direct and indirect impacts of the Second Step Middle School Program on bullying, cyberbullying, homophobic name-calling, and sexual harassment perpetration over the course of three years.
Social-emotional learning programs are increasingly being implemented in U.S. schools to address a wide range of problematic behaviors such as bullying and delinquency, and to promote academic success. The current study examined the direct and indirect impact of the Second Step Middle School Program on bullying, cyberbullying, homophobic name-calling, and sexual harassment perpetration over the course of a three-year randomized clinical trial. Delinquency was examined as an intervening variable between treatment condition and aggression outcomes. Thirty-six schools in Kansas and Illinois were assigned to either a Second Step condition or a control condition, and 3,651 sixth-grade students completed self-reported surveys at four time points across three years. Students in the Second Step condition received a total of 41 lessons across the three-year study. No direct intervention effects were found for multiple forms of aggression perpetration at the end of three years. However, as hypothesized, decreases in self-reported delinquency (intervening variable) over the first two years were significantly related to decreases in bullying, cyberbullying, and homophobic name-calling perpetration for Second Step schools across the three-year study. Indirect effects of the Second Step program on bullying and aggressive behavior were statistically significant through reductions of delinquency. Publisher Abstract Provided