Background Urban minority youth are disproportionately exposed to violence, a factor that perpetuates disparities in education, incarceration, and social/behavioural problems. Involvement in bullying in early adolescence has been associated with maladaptive outcomes as youth enter young adulthood. Combining state-of-the-art interactive technology, a strong theoretical foundation and a partnership-based approach with urban youth and educators, initial studies of Free2B will be examined to determine its relevance, acceptability, and initial effectiveness for urban 7th and 8th graders.
Methods The program theory explicates how the primary intervention components (3D film, inspirational videos and an interactive quiz show) are thought to impact both proximal (e.g., knowledge of bullying facts; prosocial attitudes about positive bystander behaviour) and distal (e.g., increases in positive bystander behaviour and collective action to prevent bullying) outcomes over time.
Results Data from 268 7th and 8th grade ethnic minority youth from two North American urban schools will be presented. Over 90% of students found the program to be acceptable and feasible. In addition, paired sample t-tests also suggest that Free2B enhanced students’ social problem-solving knowledge, prosocial attitudes about bullying, and confidence in resolving conflicts. In addition, data has just been collected from ten additional schools across both urban and suburban contexts in order to better understand program applicability for a more diverse set of school contexts.
Conclusions Free2B highlights how researchers can collaborate with multi-media experts to develop engaging and scientifically-grounded injury prevention programs that can relevance for diverse urban and potentially suburban settings. Challenges for researchers in trying to bridge the gap between theory, practice, and innovation will be highlighted.