Youth Empowerment Solutions: Engaging Youth for Anti-Racism And Cultural Equity
The proposed study aims to adapt and test an evidence-based youth violence prevention program for middle- school students called Youth Empowerment Solutions (YES) to empower youth to address racism and racial discrimination as a way to reduce of violent behavior. The study will test YES-for Engaging Youth for Anti-Racism and Cultural Equity (YES-ERACE) using a group-randomized trial design in summer programs across six middle schools in Genesee County, Michigan to examine the effects of the curriculum on individual youths’ sense of empowerment, racist behaviors, and violent behavior.
Youth violence is a significant public health concern as over 20% report being in a fight, 19% reported bullying someone, and 16% reported weapon carriage. Racism is associated with aggression and violence against racial minorities and may operate to propagate interracial mistrust, fear, hostility, and violence. Racism effects youth violence both as a stressor leading to violence and as a structural factor resulting in more exposure to community-level risk factors. The purpose of this study is to adapt and test an evidence-based youth violence prevention program for middle-school students called Youth Empowerment Solutions (YES) to empower youth to address racism and racial discrimination as a way to reduce of violent behavior. YES for Engaging Youth for anti-racism and Cultural Equity (YES-ERACE) will focus on middle school students because this is a developmental period when independence from parents begin, their own ideas about interpersonal relationships are formative, and when bullying behavior is at its peak.
Empowering children to address violence at this critical developmental period may enable them to resist negative attitudes and behaviors, such as racial prejudice and racism. Working with an advisory board of experts and youth, the project team will integrate the Teaching Tolerance (TT) curriculum from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) into the existing YES curriculum. The YES-ERACE will be tested using a group-randomized trial design in summer programs across 6 middle schools in Genesee County, Michigan. The team will examine the effects of the curriculum on individual youths’ sense of empowerment, racist behaviors, and violent behavior. The revisions of the curriculum will also be evaluated through testing specific modules and obtaining feedback from youth and school staff. Finally, the project team will examine both dose and sustainability of YES-ERACE effects. The specific aims are: 1) adapt the YES curriculum to include the Teaching Tolerance curriculum and study the adaptation and implementation process for the new curriculum; 2) test the efficacy of the YES-ERACE curriculum in a randomized design on empowered outcomes which will mediate the effects of YES-ERACE on perpetration of racist attitudes and behavior; 3) test the efficacy of the YES-ERACE curriculum on a model that predicts empowered outcomes will mediate perpetration of racism, and that YES-ERACE effects on aggressive and violent behavior (especially those motivated by racism) will also be mediated by reducing perpetration of racism over time and; 4) study the effects of dose received and sustainability of change on the outcomes from AIMS 2 and 3.
Learn more about implementing this evidence-based program in your community here.
Southern Poverty Law Center