Abstract: Promoting Healthy Coping Among Urban High Schoolers: Preliminary Findings from the Coping Power in the City Project (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

407 Promoting Healthy Coping Among Urban High Schoolers: Preliminary Findings from the Coping Power in the City Project

Thursday, May 30, 2019
Marina Room (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Catherine Bradshaw, PhD, Professor and Associate Dean for Research & Faculty Development, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Duane E. Thomas, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Sheppard Pratt Health System, Towson, MD
Jessika H. Bottiani, PhD, Research Assistant Professor of Education, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Heather McDaniel, MA, Graduate Research Assistant, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Katrina J. Debnam, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Introduction: Exposure to violence has been shown to interact in complex ways with the general challenges of adolescence to increase risk for negative emotional and behavioral outcomes in schools for urban youth. These effects are compounded for urban Black youth, who cope with contextual and interpersonal risks associated with structural racism. While the potential benefits of indicated prevention programs to address youth violence are clear, traditional approaches can fall short of meeting the particular needs of urban students of color. This paper describes preliminary findings from a culturally-adapted version of the Coping Power program (Lochman & Wells, 2004), called Coping Power in the City, for use in an urban school district with high concentrations of students exposed to community violence, challenges related to elevated tensions between youth and police, and high homicide rates.

Method: This paper will report preliminary findings from the first two cohorts of youth participating in a randomized trial of Coping Power in the City across 10 public high schools in Baltimore City. Teacher reports on primarily Black high school youth (n = 368) were analyzed. This multi-component preventive intervention targets 9th graders with aggressive behavior problems through 15 student group sessions comprised of culturally-relevant content. Additional supports are provided to parents, teachers, and school police officers in Coping Power strategies and other competencies critical to serving the needs of Black urban youth. Sessions were co-facilitated by a project clinician and a school-based counselor and supplemented with mentoring from teachers and school police officers.

Results: Preliminary fixed effects analyses were conducted to assess post-intervention impact on teacher-reported student behavior and adaptive coping skills from the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC; Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004). Results suggested that gender moderated the intervention effect, such that males in the intervention group had lower post-assessment t-scores for aggression (b = -5.354, p = .045), attention problems (b = -4.315, p = .011), atypicality (b = -4.212, p = .018), and conduct problems (b = -6.183, p = .013). Additional preliminary findings will be presented.

Conclusion: This paper reported preliminary findings of an ongoing efficacy trial of a culturally-adapted evidenced-based intervention to reduce aggressive behaviors and promote coping skills among urban Black students in Baltimore City. Implications for ongoing project objectives and recommendations for meeting mental health needs and promoting safety in schools will be discussed. Lessons learned from engaging school police officers in intervention initiatives will also be highlighted.