Schools have developed violence-prevention programs in response to the growth in the numbers of children who commit, witness, and are victimized by violence. These programs teach children nonviolent strategies for solving interpersonal problems. While such prevention efforts are crucial, it is also important to offer developmentally appropriate treatment to those children whose lives have already been touched by violence. This article describes Project Intervention, a program implemented in a Los Angeles-area elementary school
Project Intervention is a collaborative effort involving the school, police department, two medical schools, the probation department, and the district attorney's office. These agencies work together to deliver services to children in a working-class community that is plagued by gangs and school violence.
Using questionnaires, reports from teachers, and observation of students in the playground and their classrooms, children were selected to join the treatment program. Project Intervention includes individual therapy, group therapy sessions, and a mentoring program. Parents are engaged through home visits, and they are invited to attend some of the group sessions. The group treatment sessions are the heart of the program, but all the components are designed to work together to heal these severely traumatized children.