School-based youth violence is a worldwide concern. One common approach to dealing with this problem is implementing state-sponsored intervention programs for large populations of pupils. However, there is a growing concern that school-based interventions (SBIs) are being implemented without sufficient evaluations of their efficacy and cost-effectiveness. We take Israel as a national case study. Although its state education system strongly advocates an evidence-based approach to implementing “best-practice” SBIs, it is unclear to what extent Israeli SBIs are informed by impact evaluations. We coded information on all SBIs aimed at reducing violence in the state education system and reviewed the quality of evaluations associated with each SBI. Of 1,510 SBIs, 113 were dedicated to violence prevention programs in schools. Only 15 of these programs (13%), however, had any quantitative appraisal, and only two completed tests of SBIs were assessed using randomized controlled trial designs; five programs in total were evaluated under sufficiently rigorous conditions. We conclude that without valid causal estimates of treatment effects, Israeli pupils will continue to be at risk of being exposed to unhelpful and potentially damaging SBIs.
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- evidence map
- evidence-based policy
- school-based prevention