Journal of Primary Prevention

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 27–45 | Cite as

FAST and the Arms Race: The Interaction of Group Aggression and the Families and Schools Together Program in the Aggressive and Delinquent Behaviors of Inner-City Elementary School Students

  • Keith Warren
  • D. Paul Moberg
  • Lynn McDonald

This study applies a multi-player arms race model to peer contagion in the aggressive and delinquent behaviors of inner-city elementary school students. Because this model of peer contagion differs from the usual model based on positive reinforcement of delinquent behavior, it raises the possibility that the persistent finding of iatrogenic effects of group treatment might not apply to group treatment of elementary school children if the possibility of aggressive behavior in the group is limited. One way of limiting aggressive behavior is to include parents in the groups. The study therefore applies the model to groups of elementary school students assigned to Families and Schools Together (FAST; a group treatment that includes parental participation) or to an intervention focused on individual families. The model effectively describes the relationship between group averages of aggressive behavior in the classroom and aggressive and delinquent behavior outside the classroom for those students assigned to the individual intervention. The model fits those children assigned to FAST less well, suggesting that FAST may make it less likely that aggressive and delinquent behavior is generalized outside of aggressive classroom settings.

Editors’ Strategic Implications: The authors draw on evolutionary biology, developmental psychology, sociology, and learning theory to present an innovative prevention model and test the promising FAST program. Using longitudinal data from 403 children, their parents, and their teachers, the authors describe how FAST may interfere with the process of escalating aggression.


multi-player arms race model Red Queen model peer contagion aggression delinquent behavior inner-city children iatrogenic effects group treatment parental involvement victimization 



This research was supported in part by NIDA Grant # R01-DA-10067. The authors would like to thank Dr. William Notz of the Ohio State University Department of Statistics and Dr. William Brock of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Economics for their valuable suggestions. Any errors are entirely the fault of the current authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Social WorkThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Department of Population Health SciencesUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Wisconsin Center for Educational ResearchUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonColumbusUSA
  4. 4.College of Social WorkThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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