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Evidence of Effectiveness: Tertiary Prevention Outcomes

What Are They Looking For? Risk Factors That Students Privately Address on the Computer in Discipline Settings

Valeria Patterson, Safe Schools/Healthy Student Director, Dooley County Public Schools
Alice Ray, MBA, Principal Investigator, Ripple Effects
Sarah Berg, Research Coordinator, Ripple Effects

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Alice Ray, aray@rippleeffects.com, 415-
227-1669 x311, 33 New Montgomery St., Ste. 290, San Francisco, CA, 94105.

A Georgia school district’s comprehensive Safe Schools/Healthy Students initiative included use of a
self-regulated, computerized, social-emotional learning intervention, as a tertiary intervention for
discipline-related problems. Between 2004 and 2007, 3,685 mostly low income, African American
students in 40 elementary, middle and high schools were assigned self-regulated, reading-independent
lessons matched to their offenses and were encouraged also to explore underlying reasons for their
behavior. A third party evaluator used tracking data from the software to determine the degree to which
students explored personal risk factors and what kinds of lessons students most commonly chose to
explore. The computer-generated data indicated that 31% of the lessons students completed were for
their disciplinary infractions, 35% were for remedial skill-building to enhance protective factors related
to those offenses, and 34% were related to personal risk factors. Trauma related issues, such as physical
abuse, parental addiction, and relationship abuse were the most frequent subjects of personal
exploration. This finding supports the hypotheses that unresolved trauma may be a key factor in conduct
problems, and that children and adolescents will take advantage of the opportunity to privately address
this trauma on the computer, to potentially positive effect.

KEYWORDS: risk factors; positive behavioral interventions; school discipline; trauma; computer-based

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