Mediators of the development and prevention of violent behavior
The purpose of this investigation was to determine if the Aban Aya Youth Project, a culturally grounded intervention, produced differences in changes over time in core intervening variables (i.e., communal value orientation, empathy, violence avoidance efficacy beliefs) and whether these variables mediated intervention effects on the development of youth violent behavior. Fifth grade cohorts at 12 schools were randomly assigned to one of two intervention conditions or an attention placebo control condition and followed longitudinally through eighth grade. A total of 668 students (49% male) participated in the study. Mediation analyses suggested that both program conditions (as compared to the control condition) led to steeper increases over time in empathy which, in turn were related to reductions in the likelihood of violent behavior over time. No other significant program effects were detected, although changes over time in violence avoidance efficacy were associated with reduced likelihood of violent behavior. Findings are discussed in terms of theory development, program development and points of refinement of the Aban Aya Youth Project and implications for future research.