Program Goals/Target Population
Responding in Peaceful and Positive Ways (RIPP) is designed to provide conflict-resolution strategies and skills to sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students in middle and junior high schools. The goals of RIPP are to reduce aggressive behavior and violence in school-aged youth, and to intervene with young children to help them avoid potential violence in adolescence. The program is suitable for children from all socioeconomic, racial/ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.
RIPP is a school-based violence-prevention program. The program combines a classroom curriculum of social/cognitive problem-solving with real-life, skill-building opportunities, such as peer mediation. Students learn to apply critical thinking skills and personal management strategies to personal health and well-being issues. RIPP teaches key concepts, such as:
- The importance of significant friends or adult mentors
- The relationship between self-image and gang-related behaviors
- The effects of environmental influences on personal health
Using a variety of lessons and activities, students learn about the physical and mental development that occurs during adolescence, analyze the consequences of personal choices on health and well-being, learn that they have nonviolent options when conflicts arise, and evaluate the benefits of being a positive family and community role model.
RIPP draws from theories of social cognition, problem-solving, and emotional processes that are essential in controlling aggressive behavior and in increasing social competence. RIPP targets a developmental phase in the child’s life, the transition from elementary to middle school, as an opportunity to intervene to prevent violence.
The Farrell et al. (2003a) study assessed violent-behavior outcomes among seventh graders in two urban middle schools in
Participants completed a pretest at the beginning of seventh grade and a posttest at the end of the year. Two follow-ups were obtained at 6 and 12 months posttest during the eighth grade. The primary outcomes were measured by the disciplinary code violations of the school (violence, fighting, assault, possession of a weapon, and suspensions). Measurements of violence also included the Problem Behavior Frequency Scales in which students self-report the frequency of violent behavior, nonphysical aggression, drug use, and delinquent behavior in the past month. Other measures used were the Revised Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale and the RIPP Knowledge Test (which assesses attitudes toward violence).
The data was analyzed using an intent-to-treat approach with generalized linear models and generalized estimating equations. These methods are specifically used to address the nested design of data in which clusters (classrooms) of participating schoolchildren were assigned to the intervention.
Farrell and colleagues (2003b) examined the impact of RIPP for sixth and seventh grade on violent behavior outcomes. Participants in the study were students at four intervention schools (n= 752) and four control schools (n= 735) in rural
In 1998–99, the intervention group received RIPP for sixth grade and RIPP for seventh grade the following year. Measurements were taken at pretest (beginning of sixth grade), at two midpoint assessments (mid-sixth and beginning of seventh grade), at a 4-month follow-up (end of seventh grade), and at 9 months posttest. The measure used to assess behavior included disciplinary records (for only a subsample of six schools, of which three were control and three were intervention schools); the Problem Behavior Frequency Scales; the Children’s Report of Exposure to Violence; Peer Provocation Scale; Life Satisfaction Scale; the RIPP Knowledge Test; the Problem Situation Inventory; the Beliefs Supporting Aggression Scale; the Attitude Toward Conflict Scale; and the Peer Support for Nonviolence Scale.
The data was analyzed using generalized linear models and generalized estimating equations, which are specifically used to address the multilevel design of data in which schools with participating schoolchildren were randomized (rather than individual participants).
Caution should be taken in applying this program to a rural setting. The evidence base suggests that while Responding in Peaceful and Positive Ways (RIPP) showed promising results with urban African American school children (see Study 1), the program showed inconsistent results with small effect sizes when administered to schools in a rural setting with majority white schoolchildren (see Study 2).
Farrell and colleagues (2003a) found significant differences in the number of violent disciplinary code violations in the eighth grade. The control group had more than twice the rate of disciplinary code violations related to violence than the RIPP treatment group. There were no other significant disciplinary code differences in the eighth grade and none during the seventh grade.
Results from self-reports showed that boys who participated in the intervention reported significantly more favorable attitudes toward nonviolence at the 6-month follow-up and significantly less favorable attitudes to violence at the 12-month follow-up. No other results were significant.
While RIPP did not significantly reduce nonphysical aggression, drug use, or anxiety, students who made the greatest gains exhibited relatively higher pretest scores for problem behaviors. This suggests that RIPP might have its strongest effects on students who are most at risk.
The results of the Farrell and colleagues (2003b) study showed small significant effects of RIPP on some measures for some follow-up periods. RIPP students reported significantly lower aggression at the 9-month follow-up and significantly lower victimization for boys only at the second midpoint (beginning of seventh grade) and at the 4-month follow-up.
At the 9-month follow-up, the control group was 40 percent more likely than RIPP participants to report having threatened someone with a weapon and 60 percent more likely than RIPP participants to have been injured in a fight (odds ratio=1.6) in the previous 30 days. All other measures were nonsignificant.
Attitudes towards Violence
At the 9-month follow-up, the RIPP group showed significantly higher approval of nonviolence and life satisfaction. Effect sizes remained small, however.