The effectiveness of implementing a violence prevention curriculum: second step within preschools

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of implementing the Second Step: A Violence Prevention Curriculum, with young, at risk preschoolers (ages 3-5 years) within a school district in Southern California. Second Step is a research-based violence prevention program intended for children in pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) through middle school. The Pre-K version of the Second Step is designed to teach preschool age children social and emotional skills to reduce aggressive behaviors and help promote positive engagement with their peers and adults. In this study, Second Step lessons were implemented in a total period of nearly 14 weeks and in three preschool classrooms. Three participants (2 males and 1female, age range 3-5) were selected for Second Step progress monitoring in order to assess the effectiveness of the intervention. Teacher rating reports, student evaluation of knowledge and skills, and behavioral observations were used to assess pro-social and maladaptive behaviors prior to and following implementation of the curriculum. In addition, pretest and post-test assessments in the areas of empathy, anger management, impulse control, and problem solving indicated that preschoolers increased pro-social behaviors and reduced aggressive ones. The study found significant increases in social-emotional literacy and teacher reported pro-social behaviors. The findings contribute to a growing area of research on preventive intervention in early childhood. Further, this study of implementing an evidence-based social emotional program with preschool children in special education might provide early intervention educators with more effective means to address disruptive behavior.