This project was designed to provide the developmental work needed to improve the contextual relevance and ecological validity of violence prevention programs for urban adolescents. The need for this effort became evident during the development of a universal school-based intervention called Responding in Peaceful and Positive Ways (RIPP). This intervention was designed to teach the social, cognitive, and emotional skills adolescents need to address problem situations effectively. Although evaluations of RIPP have been encouraging, the effectiveness of this program and similar interventions could be improved by a better understanding of the problem situations faced by urban adolescents, the strategies most likely to be effective in those situations, and factors that inhibit or facilitate their use. Because previous research has focused on male adolescents with severe behavior problems and those in institutional settings, work is needed to identify the skills relevant to more general populations of adolescents living in high risk environments. This project involves a series of qualitative and quantitative studies conducted with adolescents in an urban school system that serves a high percentage of African American students from low income families.
Specific aims are to: (1) identify the problem situations most commonly faced by these adolescents that place them at risk for becoming victims or perpetrators of violence; (2) identify the specific cognitive, behavioral, and emotional skills most effective in helping them use adaptive, non-violent methods to address these situations; (3) identify barriers that prevent successful use of these skills and supports that facilitate their use; (4) examine gender differences to increase the relevance of the intervention for both boys and girls; (5) test a model to validate the findings of the preceding studies; and (6) revise the RIPP intervention so that it addresses the problem situations, skills, barriers, and supports identified by the preceding studies. This project will use a series of focus groups and interviews with adolescents, parents, school staff, and other community members. These data will be used to construct and empirically validate a model of the mediating and moderating variables associated with violence and victimization. Completion of this work will set the stage for subsequent large-scale evaluation studies.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-1 (03))
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Feerick, Margaret M
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Virginia Commonwealth University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Farrell, Albert D; Mays, Sally; Bettencourt, Amie et al. (2010) Environmental influences on fighting versus nonviolent behavior in peer situations: a qualitative study with urban African American adolescents. Am J Community Psychol 46:19-35
Farrell, Albert D; Erwin, Elizabeth H; Bettencourt, Amie et al. (2008) Individual factors influencing effective nonviolent behavior and fighting in peer situations: a qualitative study with urban African American adolescents. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol 37:397-411
Erwin, Elizabeth Hite; Meyer, Aleta; McClain, Natalie (2005) Use of an audit in violence prevention research. Qual Health Res 15:707-18