Preventing Aggression in Schools Everyday
Preventing Aggression in Schools Everyday (PRAISE) is classroom-based problem-solving and aggression/bullying prevention program designed for 3rd to 5th grade students. PRAISE is a universal adaptation of the CHOP-developed Friend to Friend program, which specifically targets relationally aggressive 3rd to 5th grade girls in small pull-out groups.
Several steps were taken to appropriately modify Friend to Friend for the classroom-wide PRAISE program, including:
- Conducting an open pilot trial of the PRAISE program
- Conducting focus groups with ongoing participants from the initial open pilot trial
- Integrating feedback from a diverse group of key stakeholders
- How PRAISE Works
PRAISE is a classroom-based aggression and bullying prevention program for 3rd to 5th grade students that aims to:
- Improve children’s friendship skills and problem-solving abilities
- Decrease children’s levels of aggressive behavior, including relational (gossiping, rumors, social exclusion), physical (hitting, pushing), and cyber (using electronic means) forms of the behaviors
- Support a productive and positive classroom teaching environment
The PRAISE program teaches students prevention strategies for bullying, such as identifying feelings, recognizing signs of physiological arousal that can lead to aggressive behavior, using strategies to stay calm, interpreting others’ intentions accurately, developing stronger empathy and perspective-taking skills, and understanding the steps one can take to be a positive bystander.
PRAISE uses detective analogies to teach social cognitive strategies for paying better attention to one’s own arousal signs, others’ behavior, and the social environment. These strategies are depicted and practiced through teaching modalities such as culturally-specific cartoons, videos, and role plays.
When PRAISE was first developed in 2005, it was a 20 session program led by CHOP facilitators in partnership with classroom teachers. In 2019, PRAISE was shortened and adapted to become led by school counselors and teachers, with training and coaching from the CHOP team.
Examples of detective strategies as depicted through cartoons. At left: CIA – A strategy used to encourage youth to stay calm instead of quickly reacting; At right: FBI – A strategy employed to notice others’ Face and Body, and Information in the environment, to determine intent.
- The Community We Serve
PRAISE is designed to prevent aggressive and bullying behaviors among 3rd to 5th grade students within the urban school context. Similar to CHOP’s Friend to Friend program, PRAISE was developed in partnership with Philadelphia elementary school students and their teachers, parents, and community members to be scientifically grounded, developmentally appropriate, and culturally relatable for students attending schools in urban environments. Funding from Pew Charitable Trusts supported the PRAISE program in seven Philadelphia elementary schools from 2013-2019. The team from CHOP was recently awarded another grant from Pew (2019-2022) which will support PRAISE in three different Philadelphia schools over the next three years.
- PRAISE Impact
An initial trial of PRAISE funded by NIH revealed that PRAISE increased knowledge of problem-solving skills and decreased aggression, especially in girls (Leff et al., 2010). Based on these strong results, the research team was awarded two dissemination grants from the Pew Charitable Trusts (2013-2016, 2016-2019). In the first two years of each award, PRAISE was run by facilitators from CHOP in partnership with classroom teachers. Strong results were found overall for participating students, as well as for students identified as aggressive on standardized measures. Specifically, over the four years that CHOP facilitators provided PRAISE to 1259 students, approximately 70% all students and 75% of aggressive students improved by 20% on at least two of the outcomes (e.g., physical aggression, relational aggression, problem-solving skills).
In the third year of each award, PRAISE was transitioned from CHOP-led to school-led, such that classroom teachers ran the program with upfront training and ongoing coaching from the CHOP team. This model is intended to build school capacity for implementing and sustaining needed prevention programs, and to maximize the number of schools and students that can receive the program. Results suggest that school-led PRAISE with consultation from CHOP leads to significant improvements in students’ knowledge and behaviors, similar to when the program is CHOP-led. Specifically, over the two years that teachers provided PRAISE to 402 students, approximately 72% of all students and 75% of aggressive students improved by 20% on at least two of the outcomes.
- Towards a Replicable Model
The CHOP team received a third round of funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts (2019-2022), with an enhanced focus on schools independently conducting and sustaining the PRAISE program. The proposal leverages the strong findings from the school-led final year of each prior Pew grant, in addition to stakeholder feedback on additional ways PRAISE can be most feasibly integrated into the daily routine and culture of schools. Specifically, PRAISE was transformed into an innovative train-the-trainer model in which a CHOP coach works closely with school counselors to train them in PRAISE curriculum, materials and implementation procedures, and to support counselors in training and supporting teachers to lead their portion of the program.
There are 12 weekly PRAISE counselor-led push-in classroom lessons, followed by teacher-led classroom activities that vary in format (e.g., discussion topics, writing prompts, cartoon worksheets, role-plays, videos, etc.) and length (e.g., 5-15 minutes). The goal is for 20 minutes of PRAISE follow-up activities to take place over the course of each week to reinforce and generalize PRAISE strategies taught by the counselor. The new train-the-trainer implementation model of PRAISE equips schools to run the program on their own (as opposed to relying on externally funded program facilitators) and also requires less time and effort by CHOP to provide support/technical assistance. Therefore, a greater number of schools can run the program, maximizing the reach and impact on participating students.
- Relevant Publications
- Leff SS, Costigan TE, Power TJ. Using Participatory-action Research to Develop a Playground-based Prevention Program. Journal of School Psychology, 2004. 42(1):3-21.
- Leff SS, Crick NR, Angelucci J, Haye K, Jawad AF, Grossman M, Power TJ. Social Cognition in Context: Validating a Cartoon-based Attributional Measure for Urban Girls. Child Development, 2006. 77(5):1351–1358.
- Leff SS, Gullan RL, Paskewich B, Abdul-Kabir S, Jawad A, Grossman M, et al. An Initial Evaluation of a Culturally-adapted Social Problem Solving Program for Urban African American Girls. Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community, 2009. 37(4):260-74.
- CHOP Publications on PRAISE
- Leff SS, Waasdorp TE, Paskewich BS, Gullan RL, Jawad AF, MacEvoy JP, Feinberg BE, Power TJ. The Preventing Relational Aggression in Schools Everyday Program: A Preliminary Evaluation of Acceptability and Impact. School Psychology Review, 2010. 39(4):569-587.
- Waasdorp TE, Paskewich BS, Waanders C, Fu R, Leff SS. The Preventing Relational Aggression in Schools Everyday (PRAISE) Program: Adaptations to Overcome Subgroup Differences in Program Benefits. Prevention Science, 2022. 23(4):552-562.