Culturally congruent mentorship can reduce disruptive behavior among elementary school students: Results from a pilot study

Arthur H. Owora, Najah Salaam, Sydney H.Russell Leed, Dessa Bergen-Cico, Timothy Jennings-Bey, Arnett Haygood El, Robert A. Rubinstein, Sandra D. Lane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Our study objective was to examine the feasibility of implementing a culturally congruent mentorship pilot program, Youth-First (YF), that targets behavior modification among elementary school-aged children with disruptive behavior and a history of school suspension. We hypothesize that it is feasible to implement the YF program to reduce disruptive behaviors and recidivism of level III/IV infractions in school settings among at-risk African American students. Methods: We assessed program feasibility based on the success of program acceptance by parents/guardians, study enrollment, and intervention compliance by students. A pre/posttest study design was used to examine whether the YF program reduced recidivism of disruptive behavior among enrolled at-risk African American elementary school children between September 2016 and January 2017. Generalized linear mixed models examined whether student behavioral scores improved over time and varied by program mentor. A McNemar test examined the reduction in cumulative incidence of level III/IV infractions pre-post YF program intervention. Results: Intervention acceptance, enrollment, and compliance were 100% (95% confidence interval [CI] 86 to 100%), 100% (95% CI 86 to 100%), and 67% (95% CI 45 to 84%), respectively (N = 24). Overall, student behavioral scores improved and plateaued over time (Time2 effect: b = - 0.01, 95% CI - 0.02, < 0.01); a two-week period was associated with a sevenpoint improvement (effect size: Cohen's d = 0.47, 95% CI 0.03, 0.94) in behavioral scores. Behavioral score improvements were class-specific, based on respectfulness behavior (b = 0.11, 95% CI < 0.01, 0.26). No recidivism of level III/IV infractions was reported during and post YF intervention. Conclusion: The integration of culturally congruent mentorship in elementary school-settings is feasible and can reduce risk of disruptive behaviors among at-risk African American students. Future studies should use randomized clinical trials to determine the effectiveness of culturally congruent mentorship interventions (void of potential selection and confounding biases) in reducing disruptive behavior, level III/IV infractions, and school suspensions among at-risk children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number147
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 25 2018


  • Culturally congruent
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Elementary school
  • Mentorship
  • School violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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