Boys & girls clubs and school collaborations: A longitudinal study of a multicomponent substance abuse prevention program for high-risk elementary school children

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<ul><li><p>BOYS &amp; GIRLS CLUBS ANDSCHOOL COLLABORATIONS:A LONGITUDINAL STUDY OF AMULTICOMPONENT SUBSTANCEABUSE PREVENTION PROGRAMFOR HIGH-RISK ELEMENTARYSCHOOL CHILDREN</p><p>Tena L. St. PierreDepartment of Agricultural and Extension Education, and Institutefor Policy Research and Evaluation,The Pennsylvania State University</p><p>Melvin M. MarkDepartment of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University</p><p>D. Lynne KaltreiderInstitute for Policy Research and Evaluation,The Pennsylvania State University</p><p>Bernadette CampbellDepartment of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University</p><p>n</p><p>This study tested the effectiveness of a multicomponent after-schoolsubstance abuse prevention program for high-risk second- and third-gradechildren implemented collaboratively by Boys &amp; Girls Clubs and theirlocal schools. The 2-year program was designed to reduce risk factorspredictive of later substance abuse, and to enhance protective factorsshown to buffer risk. Results showed positive effects on program childrenspersonal competency skills including (1) refusing wrongdoing; (2) solvingpeer and school problems; (3) showing courteousness to teachers and otherschool personnel; and (4) behaving ethically. For the most part, theprogram also had positive effects on childrens feelings toward school and</p><p>Correspondence to: Tena L. St. Pierre, Institute for Policy Research and Education, The Pennsylvania StateUniversity, N 253 Burrowes Building, University Park, PA 168026201. E-mail:</p><p>A R T I C L E</p><p>JOURNAL OF COMMUNITY PSYCHOLOGY, Vol. 29, No. 2, 87106 (2001) 2001 John Wiley &amp; Sons, Inc.</p></li><li><p>grades in spelling. Results suggest that youth-serving organizations andschools can collaboratively implement multicomponent interventions thatprovide protective factors that may buffer high-risk elementary schoolchildren from the multiple risks in their lives for future drug abuse. 2001 John Wiley &amp; Sons, Inc.</p><p>INTRODUCTION</p><p>Great strides have been made in the last decade in the development of effectiveinterventions to prevent youth problem behaviors such as substance abuse ~Howell,Krisberg, Hawkins, &amp; Wilson, 1995; Institute of Medicine @IOM#, 1994!. Particularlypromising are multicomponent intervention programs that seek to reduce risk factorsand enhance protective factors within the multiple, interdependent environments inwhich youth grow and develop ~Coie et al., 1993!. Prevention programs implementedcollaboratively by diverse community organizations can target multiple risk factorsacross youth environments and developmental periods ~Harachi, Ayers, Hawkins, Cat-alano, &amp; Cushing, 1995!. However, despite the view by many prevention scientists thatprevention efforts are more likely to be effective when implemented early in devel-opment, empirical studies of multicomponent programs for elementary school-agechildren are rare ~Coie et al., 1993!.</p><p>A well-developed literature exists on risk factors in the individual, family, school,peer relations, and community environments that predict increased likelihood ofsubstance abuse ~e.g., Hawkins, Catalano, &amp; Miller, 1992; Hawkins, Kosterman, Maguin,Catalano, &amp; Arthur, 1997!. There is also growing interest in the role of protectivefactors that may interact with risk factors to buffer exposure to risk ~Hawkins, Arthur,&amp; Catalano, 1995; Rolf, Masten, Cichetti, Neuchterlein, &amp; Weintraub, 1990; Rutter,1985; Werner &amp; Smith, 1992! and in the more recent work by the Search Institute onbuilding developmental assets that children and adolescents need to grow up healthyand competent ~Benson, 1997; Benson, Scales, &amp; Roehlkepartain, 1999!.</p><p>In this article, we describe the evaluation of a multicomponent intervention devel-oped and implemented collaboratively by three Boys &amp; Girls Clubs and their localelementary schools. The goal was to prevent future substance abuse and other prob-lem behaviors among high-risk second- and third-grade children by reducing identi-fied risk factors and enhancing protective factors in individual youth, and in theirfamily and school environments. During program development, a number of riskfactors were identified that are relatively common in high-risk environments.</p><p>In our study communities, as in many high-risk environments, many childrenpossessed poor social skills, communication, and decision-making skills. They oftenwere described as aggressive, disruptive, and lacking the basic interpersonal skills toget along with others. The literature suggests that behavior problems in the earlyelementary grades are associated with an increased risk of later drug abuse ~Hawkinset al., 1992!. However, social competency promotion interventions for children inelementary school have been shown to improve cognitive and behavioral problem-solving skills, behavior, school adjustment, peer acceptance, and ability to cope withproblems ~Elias &amp; Clabby, 1989, 1992; Schinke &amp; Tepavac, 1995; Weissberg et al.,1981!, providing a protective factor against future substance abuse.</p><p>The school environment has a particularly important influence on children, giventhe time spent and the level of academic and social learning that occurs in that</p><p>88 Journal of Community Psychology, March 2001</p></li><li><p>setting. Although failure in school has been identified as a predictor of adolescentsubstance abuse ~ Jessor, 1976; Robins, 1984!, studies suggest that social adjustment isa more important predictor than academic performance in the early elementarygrades. Early antisocial behavior in school may predict later academic failure ~Feld-husen, Thurston, &amp; Benning, 1973! and substance abuse.</p><p>Many of the children in our study apparently were not committed to school, andwere performing poorly. Few parents attended parent0teacher conferences. Somechildren did not attend school routinely, in part because their parent~s! lacked moti-vation to get up in the morning to get the child ready. Children who are not com-mitted to education are more likely to engage in later drug use and delinquentbehavior ~Brooks, Linkoff, &amp; Whiteman, 1977; Elliott &amp; Voss, 1974; Friedman, 1983!,but increasing parent involvement can be a protective factor. Parent involvement hasbeen associated with improved academic effort, grades, and attendance among stu-dents showing low commitment to school ~Bien &amp; Bry, 1980; Blechman, Taylor, &amp;Schrader, 1981!. Individualized tutoring programs also have shown promise for reduc-ing academic failure and problem behaviors ~Hawkins et al., 1992!.</p><p>School-based activities that promoted school bonding also were limited in the studycommunities. Many parents had not had successful school experiences, and conse-quently, were not predisposed to view school favorably. Moreover, a lack of communi-cation between the schools and parents appeared to have created a gulf between themand a lack of understanding of one another, making it difficult to nurture a bond ~Comer,1988!. Studies suggest that children may work harder in school and get better grades whenschools involve parents in determining academic and social needs of children, and inproviding assistance to address these needs ~Bien &amp; Bry, 1980; Blechman et al., 1981!.</p><p>Family bonding also appeared low in these three communities. Some parentsroutinely told their children to go to the Boys &amp; Girls Club after school and not toreturn home until the Club was closed. In addition, few children appeared to partici-pate in activities with their parents. Poor bonding between children and parents~Brook, Brook, Gordon, Whiteman, &amp; Cohen, 1990!, low parental involvement inactivities with children ~Kandel &amp; Andrews, 1987!, and maternal isolation ~Werner &amp;Smith, 1982! are predictors of later substance abuse. However, strategies to fosterpositive family relationships and to provide opportunities for parents and children toshare positive activities create a protective factor because parentchild involvementand attachment tend to discourage youths initiation into substance use ~Brook, Gor-don, &amp; Whiteman, 1986; Jessor &amp; Jessor, 1977!.</p><p>Establishing a bond with at least one person, such as a grandparent, teacher, orother adult who is a positive role model, also can buffer youth from risks ~Werner &amp;Smith, 1982!. Outside the family, an external support system that encourages chil-drens coping efforts and reinforces positive values may protect against future sub-stance use ~Garmezy, 1985!.</p><p>Parents in our target population often did not discipline consistently and seemedindifferent about their childrens progress in school. Poor family management prac-tices ~Coombs &amp; Landsverk, 1988! and low parental educational aspirations for chil-dren ~Kandel &amp; Andrews, 1987! put children at risk. Parenting skills programs to helpparents set clear expectations, consistently reinforce positive behavior, supervise, andsupport childrens social, academic, and refusal skills can serve as a protective factor.These family management skills have been shown to reduce childrens behavior prob-lems in preschool and elementary school, increase academic performance, and helpchildren resist social influences to use substances ~Hawkins et al., 1992!.</p><p>Boys &amp; Girls Clubs 89</p></li><li><p>Furthermore, the neighborhoods in which the three Boys &amp; Girls Clubs are locatedprovided daily availability of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Children regularlyobserved people using and selling drugs in their neighborhoods ~and sometimes athome!. Because initiation into drug use is preceded by values favorable to its use~Kandel, Kessler, &amp; Margulies, 1978; Krosnick &amp; Judd, 1982; Smith &amp; Fogg, 1978!, itappears helpful for children to learn at an early age the harmful influences of drugsand how to resist the social pressures associated with substance abuse that are allaround them.</p><p>BEYOND THE SCHOOLS</p><p>Implementing multicomponent interventions that target risk and protective factors inmultiple environments requires coordinated action in each environment being tar-geted. Therefore, it is beneficial to design multiple intervention components thateach address risk factors in different environments. Examples include the often-citedMidwestern Prevention Project ~Pentz et al., 1989!, Communities That Care ~Hawkinset al., 1992!, and the Center for Substance Abuse Preventions Community PartnershipGrants. The most common models include a school-based drug prevention curricu-lum for youth with other program elements such as parent skills training, a mediacampaign, community organization task forces, and health policy interventions.</p><p>These models appear to assume that the youth skills training components of theinterventions will remain the schools responsibility because of their sense of publiclegitimacy ~Benard, Fafoglia, &amp; Perone, 1987!, their captive audience of young peo-ple, and their traditional role in socializing youth into the larger society ~Perry, 1986!.However, because youth spend the greatest amount of their time outside of school~Task Force on Youth Development and Community Programs, 1992!, and many riskfactors predictive of future substance abuse exist in environments besides the school,some authors believe the school alone should not be held completely responsible forthe problem and the solution ~e.g., Dryfoos, 1998; Kaltreider &amp; St. Pierre, 1995; St.Pierre, Kaltreider, Mark, &amp; Aikin, 1992; St. Pierre, Mark, Kaltreider, &amp; Aikin, 1997!.</p><p>Furthermore, many researchers conclude that primary prevention and early inter-vention are most effective when programs target youth at greatest risk, for example,large social groupings such as neighborhoods or schools in which multiple risks exist~e.g., Coie et al., 1993!. Many of these effective programs have been implemented bycommunity agencies and organizations, and have included elements such as earlyintervention, parent involvement, peer involvement, social and life skills training, andattention to staff training and supervision ~Dryfoos, 1998!.</p><p>In particular, community-based youth-serving organizations have shown great poten-tial for offering effective prevention programs for high-risk youth ~e.g., St. Pierreet al., 1992, 1997!. More than 17,000 organizations such as Scouts, 4-H, YWCA, YMCA,and Boys &amp; Girls Clubs offer community-based youth programs, many of which includestrategies for youth to acquire life skills and the ability to communicate, make deci-sions, solve problems, and set goals for education and careers ~Task Force on YouthDevelopment and Community Programs, 1992!.</p><p>By providing appealing recreational and voluntary nonformal educational pro-grams for youth outside school hours, youth-serving organizations are in an idealposition to partner with schools and parents to provide programs that address theneeds of local youth. One of the recommendations made by the Task Force on YouthDevelopment and Community Programs ~1992, p. 79!, is for community youth pro-</p><p>90 Journal of Community Psychology, March 2001</p></li><li><p>grams to reach out to families, schools, and a wide range of community partners inyouth development, especially in low-income neighborhoods. Moreover, younger chil-dren, ages 5 to 9, and children living in low-income neighborhoods have been shownto gain the most from after-school programs, showing better behavior with peers andadults, work habits, and school performance ~The David and Lucile Packard Founda-tion, 1999!.</p><p>Youth-serving organizations typically work with youth in small groups, and are ledby adult leaders who serve as positive role models and mentors. Youth participate vol-untarily in enjoyable and challenging activities that are not solely academic, making theexperience very different from school. Such programs may be more appealing for high-risk youth who have not bonded with school. Furthermore, youth-serving organizationsmay be more successful reaching some high-risk parents who themselves have had neg-ative experiences with school. Because of these characteristics, youth-serving organiza-tions can offer programs that complement rather than compete with schools.</p><p>In this article, we report results of a multicomponent after-school preventionprogram for second- and third-grade children implemented collaboratively by Boys &amp;Girls Clubs and their local schools. The study was designed to determine, relative to a controlgroup, whether the 2-year program targeting children, schools, and parents would be effective inreducing risk factors predictive of later substance abuse and enhancing protective factors shownto buffer risk.</p><p>METHOD</p><p>The Multicomponent Intervention</p><p>The intervention consisted of three components: a youth component called SMARTKids, a school component called SMART Teachers, and a parent component namedSMART Parents. Each intervention component was designed to reduce specific riskfactors in the individual and in childrens school and family environments discussedabove, and to enhance protective factors that could buffer children from exposure tothese risks. A staff member at each Boys &amp; Girls Club had primary responsibility forcoordinating the program components. Each prevention coordinator was assisted by ahalf-time prevention program assi...</p></li></ul>


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