This article reports on an evaluation of the effectiveness of Reconnecting Youth, a prevention program for at-risk high school youth.
Data were obtained from a large, independently evaluated effectiveness trial in two diverse urban school districts. A total of 1,218 students participated; 50 percent were male; the average age was 15. The study tested whether positive efficacy trial effects could be replicated, and whether any negative behavioral effects occurred when clustering high-risk youth. Although mixed program effects were observed at immediate post-intervention, only negative effects were found at 6-month follow-up. These effects included less optimal scores on measures of grade point average, anger, school connectedness, conventional peer bonding, and peer high-risk behaviors. Overall, this evaluation found little support for the use of this social-influence--model intervention aimed at increasing school connectedness for high-risk youth. Further, this study provides evidence that clustering high-risk youth in preventive interventions has the potential for iatrogenic effects. (publisher abstract modified)