SMART Talk is a multimedia, computer-based violence-prevention intervention that employs games, simulations, graphics, cartoons, and interactive interviews to engage young adolescents in learning new skills to resolve conflicts without violence. Eight modules cover anger management, dispute resolution, and perspective taking. SMART Talk was pilot-tested in a small-city middle school during a three-week period. After the pilot testing, SMART Talk was implemented in a middle school (sixth, seventh, and eighth grades) with a diverse socioeconomic population, located within 10 miles of a major Midwestern metropolis. The 16-week intervention began in January. Students had access to SMART Talk during the school day and could use the computer alone or with a partner. Subjects for whom parental permission (n = 558) was granted were given a preintervention and postintervention survey. The survey measured demographic, psychosocial, and environmental factors as well as aggressive and other violence-related behaviors. After the pretest, two teams from each grade were randomly assigned to the intervention group and one team to the control group. Only students in the intervention group had access to SMART Talk during the 16-week intervention period. After the posttest, control subjects had access to SMART Talk. Additional data for the evaluation were collected through archival records of grades and school disciplinary actions. All variables indicated comparability between intervention and control groups. As a population, 84% of the students were Caucasian and 9% were African American. Psychosocial variables indicated 30- day frequently angry (64%), 30-day depression (15%), and impulsivity (28%). Environmental variables indicated that 68% reported they could get a gun easily, 59% feel unsafe in their neighborhood, and 24% were personally affected by violence. Violence-related variables indicated 30-day threatened to hit (45%), 30-day hit someone (56%), bullying behavior (29%), and fighting (38%). Overall, a significant percentage of the sixth-, seventh-, and eighth- graders in this study have engaged in aggressive or risky behaviors such as fighting and bullying other students. Because many of these students frequently are angry, feel unsafe in their neighborhood, and have been personally affected by violence, violence- prevention programs are warranted in this school. SMART Talk gave the students an avenue to explore anger- management strategies and conflict-resolution and perspective-taking skills. Medical Subject Headings (MESH): violence, adolescents, multimedia, computer graphics, prevention, intervention studies, conflict.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health