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UNC-CH School of Social Work receives grant to prevent violence

CHAPEL HILL -- Is it possible to prevent youth violence before it starts?

Experts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Jordan Institute for Families hope to find out.

The institute, part of the UNC-CH School of Social Work, has received $872,167 from the National Institutes of Health for a project called "Making Choices: A Social Development Program for Children" as part of a national effort to reduce violence among children and adolescents.

Drs. Mark Fraser, Tate distinguished professor for children in need; Maeda Galinsky, Kenan distinguished professor; and Paul Smokowski, assistant professor, all of the school, are developing the program. A collaborative project with Chatham County public schools, "Making Choices," is designed to strengthen children's social skills.

"The program focuses on peer relationships, on the skills children need - but are rarely taught - for making friends and working cooperatively with other children in small groups," Fraser said.

He and colleagues believe that the roots of school shootings and other forms of youth violence lie in early aggressive behavior, peer rejection, school failure and alienation. The grant will support implementation and testing of a prevention program for children at North Chatham Elementary School and Siler City Elementary School. A mix of black, white and Latino children has evolved there creating a culturally diverse community affected by suburban development from the north that is encroaching on area farm land.

Researchers will work with third-grade teachers, school counselors and social workers to promote social development by teaching children to resolve conflicts peacefully and make enduring friendships in multicultural peer groups. In the third year of the grant, a family-centered program called "Strong Families," also developed by the research group, will augment the "Making Choices" program. The "Strong Families program" has been designed to strengthen ties
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Contact: David Williamson
David_Williamson@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
31-Oct-2000


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