The goal of his project is to extend the principles identified in basic longitudinal , biosocial, and intergenerational research to model prevention programs. Accordingly, Research Program will assess the efficacy of an intervention model that aims to increase social engagement and diminish deviant behaviors among adolescents in the transition to middle school. On the basis of preliminary intervention observation and findings from longitudinal study, a short-term intervention program has been designed to take advantage of the middle school transition as a turning point in the children's engagement to school.
The specific aims are to: (a) encourage the establishment of pro-social and productive social relationships in the school setting and in the adolescent's social network, (b) enhance the development of self-regulation and control in skills that have currency within the school. (c) strengthen school engagement and facilitate academic progress in grade appropriate middle school academic subjects, and (d) establish bridges across the community and open access to fresh opportunities for the youth and their families, and to heighten parental investment in the child and the preventive intervention. Although the program is designed for universal application, we expect its benefits will be seen most clearly among at-risk youth in producing higher levels of school engagement, reductions in deviant behaviors, and at lower risk for dropout and correlated patterns of deviance. We further anticipate that this universal intervention will have its greatest impact upon the subgroups of children who in a priori grounds, are at greatest risk. In summary, the fie aims of this Unit are: 1. To asses the effectiveness of a preventive intervention that is designed to (a) encourage productive social relationships, (b) enhance self-regulation and control, (c) facilitate school engagement and academic progress in middle school, and (d) help establish bridges across the community and open access to fresh opportunities for the youth and their families, and to heighten parental investment in the child and the preventive intervention. In addition, an economic analysis of costs and benefits of the intervention will be conducted. 2. To clarify whether the transition to middle school is a period when there is a special opportunity to help at-risk early adolescents become engaged in school activities and productive interactions with peers and adults other than their parents. 3. To evaluate the adequacy of a theoretical model that proposes there are increasing constrains in adolescence within and without the person that serve to maintain stability despite change in the person and his/her social ecologies. 4. To establish the utility of developmentally-sensitive assessments of social networks and social competence, along with person-oriented statistical models, in providing a refined assessment of the effects of intervention for particular subgroups of subjects. 5. To learn how to help children and families build bridges across the community and gain access to areas and experiences that might otherwise be closed to them.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Specialized Center (P50)
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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
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