Impact of Computer-Based, Psycho-Social Training on Depression, Among Youth At Risk for Gang Involvement
and Other Forms of Delinquency.


Stephen Koffman, LCSW, Assistant Principal, Belmont High School, Los Angeles Unified School
District (LAUSD); Alice Ray, MBA, Program Developer, Ripple Effects; Nadine M. Albarran, MS, clinical
intern, Belmont High School, LAUSD; Max Vasquez, MA, Instructional math Coach, Belmont High
School, LAUSD
Address correspondence concerning this article to: Stephen Koffman, 1575 West Second St., Los
Angeles, CA, 90026; Tel: 213-241-4322; email: stephen.koffman@lausd.net
Submitted August 11, 2008

ABSTRACT
Youth in gang ridden neighborhoods are at risk of trauma-related mental health disorders, which are
linked to school failure and delinquency. They rarely seek out services for those problems. A schoolbased
gang prevention program in Los Angeles (JIPP) uses a computer-based social-emotional training
program (Ripple Effects) as the psycho-social component of a comprehensive intervention that also
addresses bio-behavioral, academic and family support issues. This case series measured the impact on
depression of exposure to the computerized training among 163 students in the JIPP program. Four
cohorts of students completed the Beck Depression Inventory at the beginning and end of the 18 week
multi-component intervention. The intervention resulted in statistically significant score decreases for
one cohort (p<.01) and for the four cohorts combined (p<.01). Limitations in the study make it
impossible to attribute the changes solely to the Ripple Effects intervention. We present these findings as
promising, but inconclusive.
KEY WORDS: depression; at-risk youth; trauma; gang prevention; Juvenile Intervention and Prevention
Program

download icon Download full article