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Social Competence Promotion Program for Young Adolescents

Ages 11-15

Rating: Level 2


The Social Competence Promotion Program for Young Adolescents (SCPP–YA) is a school prevention program that teaches students cognitive, behavioral, and affective skills and encourages them to apply these skills in dealing with daily challenges, problems, and decisions. The program targets African-American and white youths in middle and junior high schools.

The 45-session SCPP–YA has three modules. The first module includes 27 lessons of intensive instruction in social problem-solving (SPS) skills. Students are taught to 1) stop, calm down, and think before they act, 2) express the problem (aloud) and how they feel, 3) set a positive goal, 4) think of lots of solutions, 5) think ahead to the consequences, and 6) go ahead and try the best plan. These foundational lessons are followed by two nine-session programs that teach students to apply SPS skills to the prevention of substance abuse and high-risk sexual behavior. To foster the application and generalization of SPS concepts and skills to daily life, teachers are trained to model problem-solving to students in situations other than formal classroom lessons and to guide and encourage students to try out problem-solving strategies in school, at home, and in the community.


The evaluation used a quasi-experimental research design with comparison groups. The program was described to teachers at four middle schools. The teachers were then given the opportunity to participate voluntarily. Those who volunteered had their classrooms assigned to a control or program condition, based on scheduling and comparability of academic-ability grouping levels across conditions. Separate analyses were conducted to compare the outcomes associated with high- versus low-implementation fidelity. The sample consisted initially of 447 fifth to eighth grade students from 11 program (n=238) and nine control (n=183) classes in four urban, multiethnic schools. The final sample (n=421) of 210 male and 211 female students from low- and middle-income families included 178 white, 167 African-American, 72 Hispanic, and 4 students of other, unidentified ethnic identity. The control and program groups did not differ with respect to grade level, gender, or race, and students had comparable academic achievement levels. However, the groups did differ on 8 of 28 variables at pretest. The attrition analysis showed high retention levels across groups, with the study losing only 26 students (6.2 percent of the sample), whose parents withheld permission. Teacher observations were made by both primary and secondary teachers (who were hypothesized to be blinded to treatment condition) to help deal with the potential of inherent teacher bias.


The evaluation found significant positive effects on minor delinquency as well as increases in or maintenance of positive behaviors for program youths, including improved behavioral conduct, involvement with peers, and social acceptance. Significant changes were noted for the intervention group for improvements in social problem-solving and attitudes for conflict-resolution strategies. Program participants improved more than controls in generating a greater number of cooperative solutions and more effective solutions. When compared with control group students, program students generated significantly lower percentages of aggressive and passive solutions from pretest to posttest. Program students liked peers who resolved conflicts in assertive ways significantly more than control students did, endorsed cooperative strategies more than control students, and were shown to respond more assertively rather than passively or aggressively to hypothetical situations. Primary teacher ratings showed that, relative to controls, program students improved significantly in behavioral conduct, but not in social acceptance by peers.

Risk Factors


  • Anti-social behavior and alienation/Delinquent beliefs/General delinquency involvement/Drug dealing
  • Early sexual involvement
  • Favorable attitudes toward drug use/Early onset of AOD use/Alcohol and/or drug use

Protective Factors


  • Positive / Resilient temperament
  • Social competencies and problem-solving skills


  • SAMHSA: Model Programs


Caplan, M.; Roger P. Weissberg; J.S. Grober; P.J. Sivo; K. Grady; and C. Jacoby. 1992. “Social Competence Promotion With Inner-City and Suburban Young Adolescents: Effects on School Adjustment and Alcohol Use.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 60(1):56–63.

Weissberg, Roger P., H.A. Barton, and T.P. Shriver. 1997. “The Social Competence Promotion Program for Young Adolescents.” In G.W. Albee and T.P. Gullotta (eds.). Primary Prevention Works. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 268–90.


Roger Weissberg
Department of Psychology (M/C 285)
1007 West Harrison Street
University of Illinois—Chicago
Chicago, IL 60607-7137
Phone: (312) 413-1012
Fax: (312) 355-0559
Web site: