Development and Psychopathology

Special Section Articles

School-based strategies to prevent violence, trauma, and psychopathology: The challenges of going to scale

Lawrence Abera1 c1, Joshua L. Browna2, Stephanie M. Jonesa3, Juliette Berga1 and Catalina Torrentea1

a1 New York University

a2 Fordham University

a3 Harvard University


Children's trauma-related mental health problems are widespread, largely untreated and constitute significant barriers to academic achievement and attainment. Translational research has begun to identify school-based interventions to prevent violence, trauma and psychopathology. We describe in detail the findings to date on research evaluating one such intervention, the Reading, Writing, Respect, and Resolution (4Rs) Program. The 4Rs Program has led to modest positive impacts on both classrooms and children after 1 year that appear to cascade to more impacts in other domains of children's development after 2 years. This research strives not only to translate research into practice but also translate practice into research. However, considerable challenges must be met for such research to inform prevention strategies at population scale.

(Online publication April 18 2011)


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Lawrence Aber, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University, 82 Washington Square East, New York, NY 10003; E-mail:


The original research and analyses presented in this paper were supported by grants from IES (R305LO30003), the W. T. Grant Foundation (1656 to L.A., Principal Investigator [PI], and 7520 to J.B. and S.J., PIs), and the National Institutes of Mental Health (R01MH082085-01A2 to J.B. and S.J., PIs). The authors are very grateful to Tom Roderick and his entire staff at the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility for their talent at and commitment to developing and implementing the 4Rs (Reading, Writing, Respect, and Resolution) and to a rigorous external evaluation of the 4Rs. The authors are also enormously grateful to the many postdoctoral fellows, doctoral students, and research assistants at New York University, Fordham University, and Harvard University who have helped in every phase of the work reported here from data collection through data analysis. We acknowledge and thank Edward Seidman and David Osher for reviewing and providing thoughtful feedback on a draft of this article. Finally, we are grateful to the many thousands of students, hundreds of teachers, and dozens of schools in New York City who have made this work possible.