Community Program May Benefit Assault-Injured Youths

Mentor-implemented program reduces misdemeanor activity and aggression scores in adolescents
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- In assault-injured youths, a community-based, mentor-implemented program may help reduce aggression, fighting and the risk of re-injury, according to a report published in the November issue of Pediatrics.

Tina L. Cheng, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues randomly assigned 166 families of 10- to 15-year-olds who presented at two large urban hospitals with peer assault injuries to either an intervention or comparison group. In the intervention group, youths were assigned a mentor who led a six-session problem-solving curriculum and parents received three home visits from a health educator who discussed family needs to encourage service use and parental monitoring. The comparison group received a list of community resources and two follow-up telephone calls to encourage service use.

Of the 118 families (71 percent) who completed youth and parent follow-up interviews at baseline and six months, the researchers found that the intervention group showed a trend toward reduced misdemeanor activity and youth-reported aggression scores, and increased youth self-efficacy. They also found that this trend was associated with the number of intervention sessions the youths and parents received.

"Additional research is needed to corroborate the associations found and to explore more thoroughly the potential of social-cognitive and mentoring approaches to youth violence prevention," the authors conclude. "Research should also focus on engagement of high-risk populations, cost-effectiveness, and use of administrative databases (e.g., juvenile justice records) for additional measures and participant tracking."

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