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Violence Prevention @ Schools (VPI@Schools)

General Information

Project description

In keeping with current thinking on violence prevention, the Violence Prevention Initiative @Schools (VPI@Schools) project focuses on strengthening protective factors for those learners most at risk of being victims of violence and reducing risk factors for those learners most at risk of perpetrating violence. Using a behaviourally informed project, the direct aim of the VPI@Schools project is to help learners develop alternative, positive automatic responses and change their beliefs and norms about the acceptance of violence in retaliation.

In its current test phase design, the project engages Grade 8 and 9 learners on a weekly basis, in small groups (approximately 15 learners) discussions and activities, facilitated by a social work/social development or psychology university student. The curriculum focuses on teaching key socio-emotional skills to learners – such as check-ins, learning to identify emotions, deep breathing, reflective listening, developing values such as integrity, practising empathy and learning to develop a vision for the future.

Analysis Plan


The hypothesis for the pilot phase to come in 2022 is: A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) inspired violence prevention programme will result in learners slowing their automatic responses to violence (retaliation) and ultimately result in fewer acts of learner-on-learner violence at high schools. In the pre-pilot phase completed in 2021, the hypothesis was: A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) inspired violence prevention programme can be delivered in high schools of varying risk levels, during the school day, in the Western Cape context.

How hypothesis will be tested

Pre-pilot (2021):
The VPI@Schools programme was rolled out in 4 different high schools and the hypothesis was tested through surveys, observations and focus groups.
Pilot (2022):
The VPI@Schools programme will be rolled out in 30-50 high schools and the hypothesis will be tested through baseline and endline surveys (including scenario based questions) and behavioural tasks. If possible, school records (disciplinary records, academic reports and attendance records) will be used to test the long-term impact of the programme.

Dependent variables

Primary outcomes:
1. Learners slow down their automatic response to violence, resulting in fewer acts of violence.
Measured by: disciplinary records, self-reported surveys and teacher reports (TBC).

Secondary outcomes:
1. Youth have improved learning outcomes
Measured by: academic results/grades, school attendance, teacher and learner reports of achievement motivation (TBC).

Sample Size. How many observations will be collected or what will determine sample size?

Pre-pilot (2021): 153 learners, 15 youth facilitators.
Pilot (2022): ~2000 learners, ~200 youth facilators.

Power analysis. Was a power analysis conducted prior to data collection?


Who is behind the project?

Institution: Western Cape Government (WCG)
Team: BI4Gov

Project status:



Methodology: Field Experiment, Observational, Pilot experiment, Qualitative, Survey
Could you self-grade the strength of the evidence generated by this study?: 7
Data collection: Have any data been collected for this project already?: Some or all of the data have been collected, and the research team has had access

What is the project about?

Policy area(s): Education, Mental Health, Crime
Topic(s): Violence, Youth
Behavioural tool(s): Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Educational Intervention, Role models

Date published:

10 January 2022

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