Effects of a universal classroom behavior management program in first and second grades on young adult behavioral, psychiatric, and social outcomes

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2008 Jun 1;95 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S5-S28. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2008.01.004. Epub 2008 Mar 17.


Background: The Good Behavior Game (GBG), a method of classroom behavior management used by teachers, was tested in first- and second-grade classrooms in 19 Baltimore City Public Schools beginning in the 1985-1986 school year. The intervention was directed at the classroom as a whole to socialize children to the student role and reduce aggressive, disruptive behaviors, confirmed antecedents of later substance abuse and dependence disorders, smoking, and antisocial personality disorder. This article reports on impact to ages 19-21.

Methods: In five poor to lower-middle class, mainly African American urban areas, three or four schools were matched and within each set randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) GBG, (2) a curriculum-and-instruction program directed at reading achievement, or (3) the standard program. Balanced assignment of children to classrooms was made, and then, within intervention schools, classrooms and teachers were randomly assigned to intervention or control.

Results: By young adulthood significant impact was found among males, particularly those in first grade who were more aggressive, disruptive, in reduced drug and alcohol abuse/dependence disorders, regular smoking, and antisocial personality disorder. These results underline the value of a first-grade universal prevention intervention. REPLICATION: A replication was implemented with the next cohort of first-grade children with the same teachers during the following school year, but with diminished mentoring and monitoring of teachers. The results showed significant GBG impact for males on drug abuse/dependence disorders with some variation. For other outcomes the effects were generally smaller but in the predicted direction.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Continental Ancestry Group / psychology
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / prevention & control*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / therapy*
  • Baltimore
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / therapy*
  • Curriculum
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Poverty / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools*
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Socialization*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Urban Population*