The ACT Training Program: The Future of Violence Prevention Aimed at Young Children and Their Caregivers

By Guttman, Michelle; Mowder, Barbara A. | Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology, Annual 2005 | Go to article overview

The ACT Training Program: The Future of Violence Prevention Aimed at Young Children and Their Caregivers


Guttman, Michelle, Mowder, Barbara A., Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology


There are a number of early violence prevention programs that have been evaluated with regard to their success at reducing the effects of violence on young children. These programs include Childreach (Goodwin, Pacey, & Grace, 2003), Second Step: A Violence Prevention Curriculum (Grossman et al., 1997), Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (Aber, Jones, Brown, Chaudry, & Samples, 1998), PeaceBuilders (Flannery et al., 2003), The Incredible Years (Taylor, Schmidt, Pepler, & Hodgins, 1998), and The RETHINK Parenting and Anger Management Program (Fetsch, Schultz, & Wahler, 1999).

Childreach was created in 1995 at the request of the early childhood education community in Cincinnati. More specifically, there were concerns related to the number of children in early childhood centers exhibiting severe, aggressive behavior (Goodwin et al., 2003). Childreach is an early identification, short- term intervention program for children under the age of 6 and was designed to address aggression as well as other behavioral issues. This program begins with a referral from a child care center director, parent or caregiver and moves through a series of steps designed to shape services around the child's needs. These steps include consultation with staff and parents, observation, intervention for the child and family (e.g., social skills training, developmental intervention, classroom management strategies, and parent training), staff training, referral liaison services, and ongoing support of the child care setting and parents. Since the program's beginning, Childreach has served more than 500 children. To assess whether improvements in behavior were evident after this intervention, Goodwin et al. (2003) used a pre/post method of assessment with a teacher-rated measure of adjustment, the Child and Adolescent Adjustment Profile. Specifically, the evaluations of the children revealed significant improvements in all areas of behavior (e.g., hostility, peer relations, withdrawal, and productivity) except in the area of dependency. In addition, preschool teachers and child care staff reported high levels of satisfaction with the Childreach program. Overall, the data demonstrate that Childreach is an effective secondary prevention program for decreasing violent and aggressive behavior in preschoolers.

Another violence prevention program is Second Step: A Violence Prevention Curriculum (Grossman et al., 1997). Second Step is a social and emotional skills curriculum that aims to teach children to change attitudes and behaviors that contribute to violence. This is accomplished by having teachers focus on developing children's emotional understanding, empathy, impulse control, problem solving and anger management skills through 30 specific lessons (Grossman et al., 1997). In addition to the teacher training, there is a companion program that teaches parents to practice and reinforce prosocial behaviors at home. Grossman et al. evaluated whether Second Step results in a reduction in aggressive behavior and an increase in prosocial behavior among elementary school children. This study utilized a randomized treatment control design and the participants included 790 second and third grade students. Results show that physical aggression decreases and prosocial behavior increases among students who are in the Second Step program.

Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP) is a prevention program that teaches students that they have many choices for dealing with conflict besides passivity or aggression (Aber et al., 1998). This program also focuses on helping students develop the skills needed to make those choices. This program is for teachers, parents, school administrators and others working with children in grades K-12. The components of the RCCP involve teacher training and coaching, classroom instruction by the trained teachers, administrator training, parent training and peer mediation (i.e., to train selected students to serve their school as peer mediators). …

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