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Opportunity Youth: Disenfranchised Young People

Opportunity Youth: Disenfranchised Young People

who exhibit other

who exhibit other problem behaviors such as substance abuse, depression, and suicidal ideation. Students who are eligible to participate in Reconnecting Youth are identified from among set criteria: 1. The student is behind in credits for a grade level, is in the highest 25th percentile for absences, and has a GPA below 2.3. 2. The student has a prior dropout status. 3. The student is referred by school personnel and meets one or more of the criteria in point 1. Program Components The Reconnecting Youth class consists of 10 to 12 students and incorporates social support and life-skills training into a daily, semester-long class using a 75-lesson curriculum. The class is part of the high school curriculum, and students are usually invited (but are not required) to participate in the class. Students who do take part in Reconnecting Youth receive course credit for participating. Program Theory The Reconnecting Youth class is a theory-based intervention that incorporates components of strain, social learning, and social control theories into an integrated model. The class concentrates on two essential components: social support and life-skills training. The social support elements framing the program are 1) a network component built on prosocial relationship bonds emerging between the teacher and students and within the intervention peer group, and 2) a social support process derived from the group interaction processes and lifeskills training. The life-skills training consists of four elements: self-esteem enhancement, decision-making, personal control, and interpersonal communication. Each unit’s presentation is sequenced, beginning with skill introduction, skill development, application, and finally skill transfer and relapse prevention. Problem-related skills are also included in each unit and are applied to the central program goals, such as increasing mood management to decrease depression, suicide risk behavior, and anger control problems. Key Personnel The Reconnecting Youth Leader who runs the class (usually a school staff member who excels at working with high-risk youth and has completed the Reconnecting Youth training module) monitors class attendance, school achievement, moods, drug involvement, and social interactions. The Reconnecting Youth Leader also helps establish drug-free social activities and friendships. Additional Information: Negative Program Effects A randomized controlled trial (described below in Evaluation Methodology and Outcomes) compared high-risk youth in high school who participated in the Reconnecting Youth program to high-risk youth who did not participate in the program. At the 6-month follow-up, the program was found to have had significant negative effects on measures of conventional peer bonding and peer high-risk behavior, and had no significant effects on measures of delinquency, alcohol use, smoking, GPA, anger, and school connectedness. … Page 42 of 72

X. References 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Page 43 of 72

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