Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden, center, presented the International Best Practice Award to Sheppard G. Kellam, M.D., and Jeanne M. Poduska, Sc.D., for the Good Behavior Game.
The Mentor Foundation recently honored the Good Behavior Game, a prevention program for young children that has been shown to prevent drug abuse and other problems in adolescence and young adulthood. In the game, first- and second-grade student teams win stickers or other small rewards for complying with rules for good behavior, such as sitting quietly and not talking out of turn.
Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden presented the International Best Practice Award to Sheppard G. Kellam, M.D., professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins University, and Jeanne M. Poduska, Sc.D., of the American Institutes for Research (AIR), at a Mentor USA ceremony on September 20, 2012, in Washington, DC. Dr. Kellam has led three generations of large-scale, randomized trials of the Good Behavior Game in U.S. public schools and helped create an international Good Behavior Game Network that has been supported by the NIDA International Program. Dr. Poduska now leads the Good Behavior Game implementation program at AIR and conducts research into the most effective ways to train and support teachers using the Good Behavior Game.
Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden established the Mentor Foundation in 1994 in conjunction with the World Health Organization to promote drug abuse prevention. Mentor Foundation Executive Director Jeff Lee says Mentor honored the Good Behavior Game because the program has “a sound evidence base for effectiveness, an international track record, and the potential for adaptation and piloting in new countries.”
Drs. Kellam and Poduska, and their colleagues, conducted a longitudinal study that followed students until they reached the ages of 19 to 21 and found that students who played the Good Behavior Game, compared with those who did not, had lower rates of:
- Drug and alcohol use disorders
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Delinquency and incarceration for violent crimes
- Suicidal thoughts
- Use of school-based services such as behavioral counseling, remedial or special education, and therapy.
The improvement was most striking for boys who had higher levels of aggressive and disruptive behaviors in first grade. Researchers in Belgium, The Netherlands, and the United States have tested the Good Behavior Game independently; AIR pilot-tested the Good Behavior Game in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom. Positive findings were consistent across all four countries, from childhood through adolescence and into young adulthood.