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Evaluation of a Theater-Based Youth Violence Prevention Program for Elementary School Children

NCJ Number
Date Published
This study evaluated the impact of Urban Improv (UI), a theater-based youth violence prevention program for inner-city youth.
The results of this study support Urban Improv (UI) as a promising practice for youth violence prevention (YVP) with inner-city elementary school children which lends support to the application of arts-based programs in YVP initiatives. Findings indicate increased prosocial behaviors, prevention of new-onset aggression, and decreased hyperactivity and internalizing symptoms among students participating in UI. Evidence from the study suggest that the elementary school years may be an important time to intervene, especially given the developmental shift that occurs during middle school, when peers assume a more influential role in youth decisionmaking. Schools are seen as an important setting for YVP programs. However, to date, few YVP have been designed and tested with elementary school children. In addition, theater-based strategies for YVP may be particularly effective for engagement and learning among urban youth who are often faced with violent scenarios. This evaluative study examined the impact of UI on three outcome domains: aggressive and externalizing behaviors; prosocial behaviors; and scholastic attention and engagement. The evaluation was a quasi-experimental matched control, multi-outcome evaluation with elementary school students in the fourth grade. Table, figure, and references
Date Created: June 25, 2014