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Insights Insights
| 1 minute read

Do Community-Based Programs Work?

Community-based programs aimed at reducing aggression in teenagers have gained popularity in recent years. However, there has been limited research validating the effectiveness of these programs. A recent review sought to address this gap by analyzing 16 studies involving more than 2500 participants. This meta-analysis found that the most effective programs lasted more than 6 months, included smaller groups, and emphasized the community's supervisory role.

It's important to note that the researchers excluded 140 studies from their analysis due to failure to meet evidence-based standards or provide sufficient information. The fact that they found only 16 out of 156 studies to be useful should be a warning sign that we do not have nearly enough research rigorously analyzing our efforts in this area.

The results of the 16 studies that the researchers were able to include in the meta-analysis revealed several important principles. Programs lasting more than 6 months had a stronger correlation with reducing aggression than shorter programs. Additionally, programs working with fewer than 150 youth were more effective than those with larger groups.

One key finding was that community-based programs emphasizing the community's supervisory role had the most significant correlation with reducing aggression in teenagers. The researchers noted the possible explanation that “these programs foster a positive living environment for young adults, emphasizing multisystemic oversight ranging from family dynamics to peer interactions and school involvement.”  In other words, programs that work with all aspects of a teenager's life may have the most impact.

Although this research has a relatively small test group, it provides a promising starting point for identifying evidence-based solutions for these community-based programs. We need much more research, but at least we have some pointers while we put together programs that we hope will work.

Youth organizations looking to start or enhance programs reducing aggression should seriously consider the factors highlighted in this study. Although we need more research, these are the best pointers we have so far about how to achieve the outcomes we all want of reducing aggression and fostering a positive environment for teenagers.

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The key components of existing programs for aggression reduction included providing behavioral skills and training for adolescents, employing a problem-solving approach to address behavioral issues, offering psychological treatment, and emphasizing community supervision. The results indicate a significant positive effect of community-based interventions on aggression reduction


mental health research, youth services law, ausburn_deborah, insights