Academic journal article The Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioral Intervention

Preventing School-Based Antisocial Behaviors with School-Wide Positive Behavioral Support

Academic journal article The Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioral Intervention

Preventing School-Based Antisocial Behaviors with School-Wide Positive Behavioral Support

Article excerpt

In an effort to increase schools' capacity to adequately address anti-social behaviors, school districts around the country are implementing zero tolerance policies and strengthening sanctions for rule violations. Although often well intentioned, these reactive responses are largely ineffective and ultimately displace the problem. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of an alternative approach to more traditional disciplinary practices focusing on School-Wide Positive Behavioral Support.

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Antisocial behaviors among school-aged children and youth are a leading concern among both educators and the general public (Dwyer, Osher, & Warger, 1998). In an effort to increase schools' capacity to adequately address anti-social behaviors, school districts around the country are implementing zero tolerance policies and strengthening sanctions for rule violations. Although often well intentioned, these reactive responses are largely ineffective and ultimately displace the problem. In this article we outline some of the theory concerning the development of antisocial behaviors and then offer a broad description of an approach for the prevention of antisocial behaviors through School-Wide Positive Behavioral Support. School-Wide Positive Behavioral Support is a systems change model for delivering effective behavior support for all students. This systemic approach allows schools to collect and monitor formative data to determine the most relevant, efficient, and effective means for intervention and support.

A FOCUS ON PREVENTION

The field of education has been called to reduce the prevalence and incidence of antisocial behaviors by integrating research into practice (Biglan, Mrazek, Carnine, & Flay, 2003; Koop & Lundberg, 1992; Mayer, 1995; Satcher, 2000). However, schools continue to face the formidable challenge to prevent antisocial behaviors from occurring and intervene with those students who have--or are beginning to display the "soft signs" of antisocial behaviors (Patterson, 1982; Walker, Colvin, & Ramsey, 1995). There is little consensus among social scientists at large regarding the causes of antisocial behavior, delinquency, and crime. From our perspective, as well as many others, "People are not born with pre-formed repertoires of aggressive behavior; they must learn them" (Bandura, 1978, p. 14). Social environments have a communicative function. People are able to learn and gain information through observing the behaviors modeled by and interacting with others. Beliefs, cognitive processes, values, and behaviors are largely shaped through on-going interactions with the social environment. The forms of social interaction that "teach" children antisocial behaviors are numerous-adult modeling, television, association with antisocial peer groups, dysfunctional parent-child interactions, coercive school environments, to name a few. While acknowledging the broad range of individual differences in intelligence, personality, and innate ability, we believe a science of prevention should primarily focus on the aspects of human behavior that are learned, and therefore are malleable to the teaching and educational process. While there are child, family, community, school, and cultural risk factors that increase the likelihood that children and youth will develop antisocial behaviors, there are also protective factors that are associated with decreasing the likelihood that antisocial behaviors will develop (Satcher, 2001; Walker & Shinn, 2003). Education is one of society's most powerful tools for preventing displays of antisocial behavior and intervening with at-risk children and youth. Schools can provide a buffer against many of the maladaptive influences created by society by fostering instructional environments in which children and youth learn socially important values and skills. Children and youth who enter school without the prerequisite social and academic behaviors in their repertoire that would facilitate academic and behavioral success are will require a continuum of effective behavioral support. …

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