Prevention Curriculum Research Summary

How many times have you thought, “I wish someone would have told me that before” or “I wish someone would have given me a manual”? Finally, after 80,000 clinical hours, we (Dr. Christopher Cortman and Dr. Harold Shinitzky), have created The Social Black Belt prevention curriculum based upon our recently published book, Your Mind: An Owner’s Manual for a Better Life (Career Press, 2009).  

The Social Black Belt curriculum summarizes the ten most common struggles people have in life. Our goal with The Social Black Belt is to empower youth with healthy, productive and adaptive coping skills which they can use throughout life. We know from research that fostering the development of specific skills can prevent involvement in at-risk behaviors.

Upon completion of our semester long intervention at Venice High School, results revealed that The Social Black Belt students attained statistically significant increases in their knowledge, attitude and behavior. It also indicated that the students were now more aware of the social perceptions when taking risks and the benefits associated with healthy decision making.

The students became more confident about their ability to positively deal with their emotions and life situation. They were now armed with a vast array of prevention tools that provide a framework to life. These powerful skills include managing and understanding their emotions, how to set healthy boundaries, developing and utilizing positive values/goals/and self-worth, addressing and resolving impulsive behaviors, not being influenced by negative peer pressure, practical steps of civility, and the ability to heal and move beyond painful experiences.

Students who participated in The Social Black Belt prevention curriculum reported that they felt the program was beneficial for them. Across the board, The Social Black Belt students asserted that this course and the prevention material should become required curriculum offered to all students. Their teacher also shared this perception.

By implementing The Social Black Belt prevention curriculum, it is our aim to increase emotional wellness, create comprehensive stability and provide an overall positive sense of self for today’s youth. The acquisition of these integral skills will lead to an increase in student achievement and graduation rates, a reduction in teen pregnancy, and change the overall attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of adolescents.

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