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Use of a Social and Character Development Program to Prevent Substance Use, Violent Behaviors, and Sexual Activity Among Elementary School Students in Hawaii

NCJ Number
American Journal of Public Health Volume: 99 Issue: 8 Dated: 2009 Pages: 1438-1445
Michael W. Beets; Brian R. Flay; Samuel Vuchinich; Frank J. Snyder; Alan Acock; Kin-Kit Li; Kate Burns; Isaac J. Washburn; Joseph Durlak
Date Published
8 pages

This study assessed the effectiveness of a 5-year trial of a comprehensive school-based program designed to prevent substance use, violent behaviors, and sexual activity among elementary-school students in Hawaii.


Overall, risk-related behaviors were substantially reduced for students who participated in the program, providing evidence that a comprehensive school-based program can have a strong beneficial effect on student behavior. The study used a matched-pair, cluster-randomized, controlled design, with 10 intervention schools and 10 control schools. Fifth graders (N = 1,714) self-reported on lifetime substance use, violence, and voluntary sexual activity. Teachers of participant students reported on student (N = 1,225) substance use and violence. Two-level random-effects count models (with students nested within schools) indicated that student-reported substance use (rate ratio [RR] = 0.41; 90 percent confidence interval = 0.25, 0.66) and violence (RR = 0.42; 90 percent CI = 0.24, 0.73) were significantly lower for students attending intervention schools. A 2-level random-effects binary model indicated that sexual activity was lower (odds ratio = 0.24; 90 percent CI = 0.08, 0.66) for intervention students. Teacher reports substantiated the effects seen for student-reported data. Dose-response analyses indicated that students exposed to the program for at least 3 years had significantly lower rates of all negative behaviors. 4 tables and 44 references (publisher abstract modified)