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School-based prevention programmes for aggressive children improve behaviour

Aggressive behaviour in children and teenagers is a serious problem, and having violent behaviour early in life is strongly associated with injury, later criminal conduct and poorer health as an adult.

A Cochrane Systematic Review that draws data from more than fifty different trials shows that delivering programmes in schools that specifically target at-risk pupils, can have real benefits.

Intervention strategies that aim to reduce violent behaviour in school children can either address a whole school or class, or alternatively target the children who already have threatening or aggressive behaviour – an approach known as ‘secondary prevention’.

A team of Cochrane Review Authors assessed the evidence for the effectiveness of school-based secondary prevention programmes. They found that interventions designed to improve relationship or social skills appear to be the most beneficial. Interventions designed to teach students not to respond to provocative situations could also produce benefits.

“Among the most useful programmes were those that taught children how to get on better with other people. These included teaching skills such as listening, thinking about the feelings of others, working co-operatively, and learning how to be assertive without being aggressive.” says lead Review Author Dr Julie Mytton a Public Health Doctor based at the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK.

The programmes were equally effective in both older and younger children, and in both boys-only groups and mixed sex groups.

Julia Lampam | alfa
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