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Second Step Violence Prevention Programme

Recommendation Pillars

Improve education systems’ impact on equal opportunities

Years in Operation

1992  - still operating

Practice Overview

"Second Step: A Violence Prevention Programme" is a classroom-based social skills curriculum for students from preschool through middle school. The curriculum aims to reduce impulsive and aggressive behaviors and increase protective factors and social-emotional competence. Organized by grade level, the programme teaches children empathy, problem-solving skills, risk assessment, decision-making, and goal-setting skills. The Second Step programme is classified as a universal intervention, meaning that it is appropriate for whole classrooms of children and not just those at risk. In Norway, this programme has been translated and implemented as Steg for Steg.

Second Step lessons are organized into three skill-building units that focus on empathy, impulse control and problem solving, and anger management. Lessons are sequential, developmentally appropriate, and provide opportunities for modeling, practice, and skills reinforcement. The lessons are designed to be taught in the classroom setting twice a week (Holsen et al., 2008).

Evidence of Effectiveness

Second Step was evaluated among 1,153 students in eleven junior high schools in Norway (Holsen et al., 2008).  The evaluation included 338 students in grade 5, 405 students in grade 6, and 389 students in grade 7.  Twenty-one students’ grade levels were not reported and therefore these students were excluded from the analysis.  The study used an age-cohort design where students in fifth, sixth, and seventh grades were assessed at baseline and one-year later.  During the year, students received the Second Step intervention.  The one-year results for students in fifth grade at baseline were compared to the baseline results for students in sixth grade at baseline.  The one-year results for students in sixth grade at baseline were compared to the baseline results for students in seventh grade at baseline.

Summary of Results

Outcome

Treatment Group

Control Group

Outcomes improved (statistically significant)*

Social Competence (higher is better)

Sixth Grade - both genders

3.19

3.12

Seventh Grade - females

3.21

3.1

Externalizing Problem Behaviors (lower is better)

 

Sixth Grade - males

1.59

1.71

Outcomes with no effect

Social Competence

Seventh Grade - males

3.01

3.02

Externalizing Problem Behaviors

 

Sixth Grade - females

1.55

1.49

* Outcomes improved had to demonstrate effects that were statistically significant at least at the 0.05 level.

Transferability

In addition to being implemented in the Norway, Second Step has been implemented and evaluated in the United States (Orphinas et al., 1995, Grossman et al., 1997, Lillenstein et al., 2001, Nicolet, 2004, and Frey et al., 2005).

Enduring impact

The Second Step programme has not been evaluated for enduring impact in a European population beyond the one-year follow-up conducted by Holsen et al., (2008).

Issues to Consider

The Second Step programme received a “promising” rating because the sustainability of Second Step has not been evaluated among a European population beyond one-year post-intervention. Additionally, 11 of 40 (28%) contacted schools in Norway agreed to participate in the evaluation conducted by Holsen et al. (2008). This may bias the results dependent on the characteristics of the participating schools relative to the non-participating schools.

Contact Information

Name

Ingrid Holsen

Title

Associate Professor

Organization

Research Center for Health Promotion, University of Bergen

Address

Postboks 7800, NO-5020 BERGEN

Phone

+47 55 58 32 18

Email

Ingrid.Holsen@iuh.uib.no

Website

Available Resources

The Second Step Violence Prevention curriculum originated in the United States.  The Norwegian Association for Public Health translated the Second Step Violence Prevention curriculum from English to Norwegian.  This curriculum also includes a teacher’s guide.

The English version was developed by the Committee for Children in the United States. English materials can be found at http://www.cfchildren.org/.

Evaluation Details

Holsen et al. (2008) evaluated the Second Step programme among a sample of junior high school students in Norway. The evaluation included 1,153 students in eleven junior high schools with 338 students in grade 5, 405 students in grade 6, and 389 students in grade 7. Twenty-one students’ grade levels were not reported and therefore these students were excluded from the analysis. The study used an age-cohort design where students in fifth, sixth, and seventh grades were assessed at baseline and one-year later. During the year, students received the Second Step intervention. The one-year results for students in fifth grade at baseline were compared to the baseline results for students in sixth grade at baseline. The one-year results for students in sixth grade at baseline were compared to the baseline results students in seventh grade at baseline.The age-cohort design may not distinguish programme effects from other time trends occurring during the time of the study. Holsen et al. (2008) noted that there was an ongoing national level debate regarding national testing during the time of the study. They hypothesized that this might have drawn teachers attention away from Steg for Steg to focus on academic testing. This may make the results of this study conservative. No other historical trends were noted by Holsen and colleagues. Students were assessed on social competence, externalizing problem behaviors (aggressiveness, assertiveness, and lack of behavior control), and internalizing problem behaviors (social withdrawal and excessive fearfulness).

The study found a positive effect on social competence among both males and females in sixth grade intervention group compared to the sixth grade control group (3.19 vs 3.12; range 1-4 with higher scores indicate higher social competence). Among seventh grade students, the intervention had a positive effect on social competence among females in the intervention group when compared to females in the control group (3.21 vs. 3.10). There was no difference between seventh grade males in the intervention and control groups on social competence (3.01 vs 3.02).

There was a significant effect on externalizing problem behaviours among sixth grade males in the intervention group compared to sixth grade males in the control group (1.59 vs. 1.71; range: 1-4 with lower scores indicate less problem behaviour). There was no difference in externalizing problem behaviours between sixth grade females in the intervention and control groups or among seventh grade males and females in the intervention and control groups. The Second Step intervention also had no impact on internalizing problem behaviours among sixth or seventh grade students.

Bibliography

Holsen, I., B. H. Smith, and K. S. Frey., Outcomes of the Social Competence Program Second Step in Norwegian Elementary Schools, School Psychology International,Vol 29, No. 1, 2008, pp. 71-88.

Last updated

September 2012