Academic journal article International Journal of Emotional Education

Efficacy of Aggression Replacement Training among Children from North-West Russia

Academic journal article International Journal of Emotional Education

Efficacy of Aggression Replacement Training among Children from North-West Russia

Article excerpt

Introduction

Children and young people with behavioural problems constitute between one third and a half of all referrals to support services in the USA (Kazdin & De Los Reyes, 2009). High prevalence of behavioural problems is also the case for the Russian Federation where from 15 to 20% of children were reported as having serious mental health problems according to Goodman, Slobodskaya & Knyazev (2005). Even if the population of children and young people with behaviour problems differs from country to country, overall it is a cause of concern both for the children themselves and for their surroundings. For example, in Norway, 7- 12 % of all children aged 10-17 demonstrate such a high degree of undesirable behaviours that can be considered as behavioural problems. Of these, about 2% have severe antisocial behaviour (Nordahl, Sørlie, Manger & Tveit, 2005). According to the largest Scandinavian independent research organisation SINTEF, 40% of children and young people referred to the psychiatric services in Norway, also have behavioural problems (SINTEF, 2004). As for the Russian Federation, in a study by Vermeiren, Deboutte, Ruchkin & Schwab-Stone (2002) it was found that 69% of the studied adolescents from the general population were reported as manifesting from moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

Among the factors that may prevent the development of behavioural problems is the ability to generate pro-social behaviour in general and especially in stressful situations. Thus, intervention programmes, which aim at increasing social competence, also have been found to decrease problem behaviour (Sørlie, 2000). As social competence involves a number of different aspects including developing empathy, cooperation, self-control and assertiveness, programmes with multiple focuses and different modules seem to be more effective and successful than programmes orientated only towards one aspect of the problems (Dowden & Andrews, 2000).

Among such multi-focused programmes aimed to increase social competence is Aggression Replacement Training (ART) (Glick & Gibbs, 2011; Goldstein, Glick & Gibbs, 1998). The programme consists of three equal components: social skills training, anger control training and moral reasoning training. Each component is taught on a weekly basis (3 sessions per week) over a 10-week period. Social skills training is the behavioural component in which participants learn how they ought to behave in social situations. Anger control training is the emotional component where participants learn strategies to manage anger. Moral reasoning training is concerned with cognitive behaviour and moral values where participants learn to take perspective of others. The programme has a fixed structure and makes considerable use of role- playing and exercises. There are also various strategies for the transfer and maintenance of the skills that have been developed. In the present study, character education was included in the moral reasoning component and the concept of setting events was incorporated in the anger control training component (Gundersen, Olsen & Finne, 2008). In addition, rehearsals and selected pedagogical techniques described by Gundersen and Moynahan (2006) were included. The programme can thus be seen as an extended version of ART.

Several studies have documented the empirical efficacy of the ART programme both with children and adolescents (Currie, Wood, Williams, & Bates, 2012; Goldstein & Glick, 1994; Nugent & Bruley, 1998) and with incarcerated youths (Barnoski & Aos, 2004). In Norway outcome effects have been positive (Gundersen & Svartdal, 2006, 2010; Langeveld, Gundersen, & Svartdal, 2012). Some of these evaluations have observed diffusion of treatment effect, i.e., that interventions intended for participants in the treatment group have also affected participants in the control group (Gundersen & Svartdal, 2010; Kazdin, 1998) threatening conclusions about treatment efficacy. …

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