Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT) is a preventive intervention designed to address two factors that put children at risk for subsequent antisocial behavior and delinquency: 1) aggressive and other at-risk social behaviors with teachers and peers at school and 2) certain parenting practices, including inconsistent discipline and lax supervision.
The target population is children within the elementary school setting, particularly first graders and fifth graders. The program is designed for children and their families living in at-risk neighborhoods.
LIFT is designed to prevent the development of aggressive and antisocial behaviors.
The program has three main components: 1) classroom-based child social skills training, 2) the playground Good Behavior Game (GBG), and 3) parent management training. It also focuses on systematic communication between teachers and parents. To facilitate communication, a “LIFT line” is implemented in each classroom. The LIFT line is a phone and an answering machine in each classroom that families are encouraged to use if they have any questions for the teachers or have concerns they wish to share. Teachers could also use the LIFT line to record daily messages about class activities, which could be accessed by parents.
Child social skills training sessions are held during the regular school day and are broken into distinct segments. The training is delivered in 20 one-hour sessions over a 10-week period. Each session includes 1) classroom instruction and discussion about specific social and problem-solving skills, 2) skills practice in small and large groups, 3) free play in the context of the GBG group cooperation game, and 4) review and presentation of daily rewards. Parts 1, 2, and 4 of the session take place in the classroom, and part 3 takes place on the playground. The curriculum is similar for all elementary school students; however, delivery format, group exercises, and content emphasis are modified depending on the grade level of the participants.
The playground GBG takes place during the free-play portion of the social skills training and is used to actively encourage positive peer relations on the playground. During the game, rewards are earned by individual children for demonstrating positive problem-solving skills and other prosocial behaviors with peers; these rewards accumulate over time so that the entire group or class can earn a reward. A point system is used to discourage negative behaviors.
The parent management training component of LIFT is conducted in groups of 10 to 15 parents, and consists of six weekly 2½-hour sessions. Sessions can provide training either shortly after school or in the evenings. Session content concentrates on positive reinforcement, discipline, monitoring, problem solving, and parent involvement in the school. Communication is fostered throughout the school year.
LIFT was informed by research on the development of delinquency—specifically coercion theory (for more details, see Patterson 1982 or Patterson, Reid, and Dishion 1992). An important assumption underlying the program is that social agents respond coercively to children who are at risk for conduct problems. The intervention components were developed to decrease oppositional/antisocial child behaviors and the coercive response to such behaviors, as well as to increase prosocial behaviors and their support.
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Child Physical Aggression
Reid and colleagues (1999) found a significant group effect on child physical aggression. Preintervention, children in both groups exhibited an average of 6.0 aggressive physical behaviors on the playground during recess each day. Postintervention, children in the Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT) intervention group averaged 4.8 aggressive behaviors. In contrast, control group participants averaged 6.6 a day.
There was no significant group effect on mothers’ behavior. However, there was a significant effect for mothers in the intervention group who exhibited high preintervention levels of aversive verbal behavior. Those mothers changed the most postintervention, compared with control group mothers with the highest levels of aversive verbal behavior.
Teacher Ratings of Child Behavior
were significant group differences on measures of teacher ratings of child
behavior. Social skills of children in the intervention group were viewed more favorably by their teachers than children in the control group were 1 year postintervention.
Substance Use Initiation
DeGarmo and colleagues (2009) found that the LIFT youths, compared to control youths, reported a 10 percent reduced risk of initiating tobacco use and a 7 percent reduced risk of initiating alcohol use by 12th grade; both were significant results. There was also a 9 percent reduced risk in initiating illicit drug use, but this reduction did not reach significance. LIFT youths also reported approximately 10 percent reduced risk in initiating alcohol use by 12th grade.
Substance Use Growth Over Time
The entire sample showed significant mean increases in tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use over time. Tobacco and illicit drug use showed significant accelerated growth. Alcohol was the most commonly used substance and had the highest level of increased use over time. However, the study found that the LIFT prevention program was associated with primarily slowing down the rate at which substance use increased across adolescence. Compared to control youths, LIFT youths had a significantly reduced average level of use of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs through 12th grade. In addition, girls in the LIFT intervention showed lower growth rates in tobacco and illicit drug use than their male counterparts.
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