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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 Issue: 99 Dated: 2009 Pages: 1-8
Date Published
0 pages

This article reports on the findings and methodology of an evaluation of 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. 


The evaluation 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 [CI] = 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 two-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. The evaluation concluded that 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. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2009