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Apr 10, 2014 11:49 AM EDT

Intervention Programs Effective in Reducing Violent Behaviour among Middle School Students, Study

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Aggressive attitudes among middle school students can be changed through intervention programs, according to a Vanderbilt University study.

For the study, researchers analysed 27 intervention programs to identify a suitable violence prevention program. They narrowed in on a conflict resolution program that was based on Nashville middle school with high rates of violence.

The researchers then asked 122 students to undertake the conflict resolution program and report their behavior and experiences with violence in a pre-test/post-test questionnaire. The researchers observed a significant reduction in student's brutal conduct and an enhanced competence while dealing with violence.

The pre- and post-test scores revealed that students, who were "sometimes" getting punched or pushed by others, were "almost never" targeted after the program. Plus, they "never" got beaten up or threatened with a gun, even as a joke, eventually helping in reducing the levels of victimization.

"I think the power of what we are doing is the power of community and, in this case, the power of doctors partnering with educators," Manny Sethi, M.D., assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation said in a press release. "People are victims of violent injuries...the key intervention is much earlier and that's what our research showed - that the right time to reach these children is in the middle school years when you can change the way they are perceiving things," Seth said.

Sethi said that the program needs to be applied on a larger audience to determine its efficacy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overall 707,212 young adults, aged 10 to 24, were admitted in emergency departments for injuries sustained from physical assaults in 2011.

"...until we can really reach these children in a different way, I think it is going to be very difficult to reduce the amount of violence we are seeing in our kids," Sethi said. "And it starts all the way from bullying and it becomes bigger, to the things that present in our emergency rooms like shootings and stabbings. This program is about developing the mental machinery to deal with conflict in a peaceful way."

The presence of an effective intervention program could have prevented the knife attack at Franklin Regional High School Wednesday that resulted in 22 injuries.

The conflict resolution program has now been introduced to 10 schools with roughly 3,500 children. The findings published in the Journal of Injury and Violence Research.

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