Problem-Solving Skills Help Kids Build Self-Esteem and Steer Clear of Drugs

Elementary school program to prevent substance abuse and other problems

The Social Problem Solving Unit of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey expanded its social-skills-development and problem-solving program from fourth and fifth grades only to a schoolwide model for New Jersey elementary schools.

Key Results

  • Over the five-year grant period, investigators accomplished the following:

    • Amended the curriculum to improve its effectiveness with the largely African-American school population it was serving.
    • Trained more than 2,000 children in 15 N.J. schools. However, none of the 15 schools institutionalized the program schoolwide.
    • Trained some 142 educators through graduate-level courses developed by the Unit or in school-based, in-service mini-courses.

Key Findings

  • A post-test comparison with a control group who did not take the course found that participants showed better knowledge of course content, greater self-esteem, and improved problem-solving ability.