Life Skills Training
LifeSkills Training is an educational programme aimed at 8-14 year olds which aims to train personal and social skills in order to prevent future substance abuse and violence. The programme consists of 15 sessions each lasting about 45 minutes: these can take place between 1-3 times a week. They are followed by two sets of booster sessions to increase protective factors and skill retention. The programme was originally developed by Dr Gilbert J. Botvin in the US, and has recently been adapted for use in the UK where it is disseminated by Barnardo’s.
Schools signing up to the programme receive pupil and facilitator manuals covering personal self-management, general social skills and violence and drug resistance skills. Any evidence in support of the programme is based on a trained version.
The Blueprints For Healthy Youth Development review rates Life Skills Training as a model programme (the highest rating) for impact on a range of outcomes including delinquency, drug use and violence.
Social Programs That Work (2008) identified Life Skills Training as meeting the Top Tier evidence standard for substance abuse prevention/treatment.
The Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development evaluation found evidence of long-term effectiveness, with several studies providing 5-6 year follow-up data, and one study providing 10-year follow-up data.
Social Programs That Work highlight as key findings a reduction of around 20% in smoking initiation and 10-15% in drunkenness, at 12th grade follow-up (i.e., 5-6 years after random assignment).