Positive Adolescent Choices Training

The Positive Adolescent Choices Training (PACT) program is designed to reduce the chances that African American and other at-risk adolescents will become victims or perpetrators of violence. The program addresses the problem of expressive violence. which involves loss of control among family, friends, and acquaintances and represents the greatest threat to adolescents. Although developed especially for sensitivity to the needs of African American youth. die techniques used in the program are applicable to, and are frequently used with, multi-ethnic groups.


The PACT program was developed by W. Rodney Hammond. Ph.D., Associate Professor of the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. The PACT program is operated and has been implemented since 1989 in a middle school setting in cooperation with Dayton Public Schools.

Target Population

PACT primarily targets high-risk youth between the ages of 12 and 16 who are selected by teachers on the basis of skill deficiencies in relating to peers. Behavior problems (particularly aggression). and/or history of violence, victimization. or exposure.

Training Focus

PACT training helps adolescents:

Training Method

Youth are trained in small groups of no more than 10. Adolescent participants are introduced to skills related to avoiding violence through a project-developed video resource program called Dealing with Anger: Givin' It, Takin' It, Workin' It Out. The videos present adolescents in situations that appear to be heading toward physical conflict and provide demonstrations of these role models using the target skills correctly and incorrectly. Target skills include giving negative feedback (expressing criticism or displeasure calmly), receiving negative feedback (reacting appropriately to criticism and anger of others). and negotiation (identifying problems and potential solutions and teaming to compromise). Each skill is broken down into well-defined behavioral components that youth practice in small group sessions. Anger management and violence risk education are integrated throughout the curriculum.

Training Resources for Professionals on the PACT Approach

The PACT approach is described and demonstrated in a video program and comprehensive program guide called *PACT. Positive Adolescent Choices Training:  A Model for Violence Prevention Groups with African American Youth. On-site training at different levels may also be arranged with PACT staff.

*Available through Research Press. Champaign, Illinois. telephone (217) 352-3273.

Project Staff

Project Director: W. Rodney Hammond, Ph.D.
Project Evaluator: Betty R. Yung, Ph.D.
Project Coordinator: Janeece R. Warfield, Psy.D.
Community Training Specialists: Michelle Hassle, Psy.D.
                                                   William Kennedy, Psy.D.
                                                  Michael Williams, Ed.D.

For Additional Information

                                                    School of Professional Psychology
                                                    Wright State University
                                                    Ellis Human Development Institute
                                                    9 N. Edwin C. Moses Blvd.
                                                    Dayton, OH 45407
                                                    Phone: (513) 873-4300
                                                    FAX: (513) 873-4323

A Model for Violence Prevention Groups with African American Youth

Executive Producer, W. Rodney Hammond, Ph.D.
Associate Producer, Betty R. Yung, PhD

The Positive Adolescent Choices Training (PACT) program provides a detailed model for planning, organizing, and conducting violence prevention groups specifically designed for African American youth.

PACT focuses on the problem of expressive violence, which often involves physical conflict between family, friends, or acquaintances. This type of violence is preventable and yet represents the greatest threat to adolescents. It is frequently triggered by trivial arguments over clothing, boyfriends, girl friends, or perceived insults.

The PACT program was developed to help reduce youth violence by teaching adolescents the skills they need to deal calmly and effectively with anger-provoking situations. It is an exceptional prevention program for all students, including those who exhibit behavior problems or those with a history of victimization or exposure to violence.

The PACT program utilizes a three-part training approach:

Through modeling, role playing, group discussion, and homework assignments, group members learn specific skills that provide them with alternatives to fighting,  empower them to make positive choices, and reduce their risk of being  involved in violent situations.

The PACT video offers a visual demonstration of the program's key components, group leadership skills, and training techniques. It contains footage of group sessions, interviews with PACT trainers, and commentary by Dr. W. Rodney Hammond.

The video provides group leaders with practical guidelines and procedures that have proven to be effective in conducting violence prevention training programs with African American youth.

The video details the seven key components of the PACT training program:

  1. Learning the Culture and Norms
  2. Creating a Positive Setting
  3. Teaching Violence Awareness
  4. Teaching about Anger
  5. Teaching Rationales for the Skills
  6. Keeping the Group Involved and Motivated
  7. Handling Group Breakdowns

"Of all the problems faced by the
African American community, none
is more critical and costly than that
of interpersonal violence."

The comprehensive program guide provides the program overview and rationale; implementation, training, and behavior management- procedures; suggestions for parent involvement and training-; and evaluation methods. It includes sample forms, student handouts and worksheets, and a list of resource materials. Together, the PACT video and program guide provide the foundation for an outstanding violence prevention program.

W. Rodney Hammond, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Hammond has been a member of the APA Commission on Violence and Youth and the Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family. His most recent professional efforts have focused on youth homicide and violence as public health concerns.

"Being the leader of a violence prevention training program is a challenge. By hearing from PACT group members and leaders, and by seeing how leaders conduct group sessions ... we want to increase your effectiveness in teaching young people skills that may save lives." - W.R.H.

Recommended for use with the PACT program ...

Dealing with Anger - a culturally sensitive video series

This three-part series was developed by the PACT Project to provide training in PACT's core prosocial skills. Dealing with Anger illustrates the group process and features modeling a scenes of African American youth dealing with real-life conflict situations.

A Violence Prevention Program for African American Youth

Executive Producer, W Rodney Hammond, Ph.D.

Dr. Hammond is Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Associate Professor at the School of Professional Psychology, Wright State University. He has consulted widely at the state and national levels on public health and mental health policy issues relating to minority populations.


This innovative video-based training program was developed in response to the need for culturally relevant materials to tram African American youth in skills that will reduce their disproportionate risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of violence. It is realistic in terms of language, dress, and cultural issues.

The training program is built around a series of three instructional videotapes. Each tape begins with a vignette of a conflict situation that escalates into a potentially dangerous confrontation. The narrator freezes the action and describes a skill that could have been used to defuse the violence. The same scene is played out again, but this time the appropriate skill is used and the problem is solved without resorting to aggressive behavior.

The videos also include footage of training sessions that show leaders working with adolescent groups. During these sessions, students ad dress conflict situations in their own lives. They learn skills for dealing with these conflicts, role play some of the situations, and give or receive feedback on their role-play performances.

Bernie, the on-screen narrator, skillfully prepares viewers for each scene and follows up with comments on what went right or wrong. His street-smart language and sincere, laid-back style get students actively involved in the training program.

Tape 1 Givin' It

Tape 2 Takin' It

Tape 3 Workin' It Out

In addition to the instructional videotapes, the training package includes a leader's guide and a set of skill cards. The leader's guide provides all the information needed to implement the program. The skill cards are student handouts that list the steps for each skill and serve as prompts for quick reference during training sessions.