This paper reports on an evaluation of a cluster-randomized clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of school-based social-emotional learning programs, for reducing youth aggression among sixth and seventh grade students.
School-based social-emotional (SEL) programs that address interpersonal conflict and teach emotion management have succeeded in reducing youth aggression among elementary school youth, with few studies in middle schools. Results of a two-year cluster-randomized clinical trial of Second Step Middle School Program on reducing aggression and victimization are presented. Teachers implemented 28 lessons for sixth and seventh graders that focused on social emotional learning skills such as empathy and problem-solving. All sixth graders completed self-report measures assessing bullying, aggression, homophobic name-calling and sexual harassment at three waves. Multilevel analyses revealed significant intervention effects for two of the seven outcomes. Students in intervention schools were 56 percent less likely to self-report homophobic name-calling victimization and 39 percent less likely to report sexual violence perpetration than students in control schools in one state. SS-SSTP holds promise as an efficacious program to reduce homophobic name-calling and sexual violence in adolescent youth. Publisher Abstract Provided