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Second Step: A Violence Prevention Curriculum is a universal intervention designed to be used with all students in a school. Through use of the Second Step program students begin to raise their self-esteem, rather than their fists.


Second Step consists of 20 scripted lessons. The lessons are taught for about 45-50 minutes a day to teach development of:

  • empathy,
  • problem-solving skills, and
  • anger-management techniques.

The 45-50 minute lessons, used one to three times a week, are each broken into three parts: discussion, activity, and role play. In addition, older students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades, also participate in discussions, use overhead transparencies, and watch video segments demonstrating good behavioral strategies.

Used in a well-organized manner, the Second Step curriculum can dramatically increase student use of prosocial behavior and help students get along better with peers, teachers and family. The program can be integrated into many parts of the students’ school day, such as during academic instruction, playground time or even lunch.

Outcome Data

The Second Step program is creating change in student prosocial behavior. The Kennedy Middle School used the program throughout its school year and during follow-up it was found that when faced with a hypothetical conflict scenario, 62 percent of students in a language arts class wrote a peaceful response to the problem. Not only are students knowledgeable about peaceful resolutions, but also there has been an effect on student behavior, as a result of the curriculum.

In a randomized control study, researchers found that some students behavior had taken a positive turn after only 17 hours of classroom exposure to the Second Step curriculum. Direct observation of student behavior in various settings (i.e., classroom, cafeteria, and playground) during different stages of the intervention (i.e., baseline, two weeks after completion, and 6 months after completion) revealed:

  • Decreases in physical aggression (p.= .03), and
  • Increases in neutral and prosocial behavior (p.= .04).

With continued involvement by all school staff, Second Step should increase the prosocial behavior of students and lessen the likelihood of violence, there by making schools safer environments that are more conducive to learning.

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