The mission of SSDP, like the mission of SDRG, is to understand and promote healthy behaviors and positive social development among children, adolescents, and young adults through:
- Conducting research on factors that influence development
- Testing the effectiveness of interventions
- Presenting science-based solutions to health and behavior problems
- Disseminating knowledge produced by this research
SSDP is based at the University of Washington in the School of Social Work. J. David Hawkins, Director, and Richard F. Catalano, Associate Director, began in 1979 to develop the Social Development Strategy, which provides the theoretical basis for risk and protective focused prevention that underlies much of the group's research. SSDP is an ongoing longitudinal study of youth and young adult development. SSDP began in 1981 to test strategies for reducing childhood risk factors for school failure, drug abuse, and delinquency. First graders in five Seattle schools were assigned to intervention or control classroooms. Each year through the elementary grades parents and teachers in intervention classrooms learned how to actively engage children in learning, strengthen bonding to family and school, and encourage children's positive behaviors. In 1985, when the original first graders entered the fifth grade, the panel was expanded to 808 students from 18 Seattle elementary schools. These participants and their parents have been interviewed regularly since 1985. Data from these interviews are used to examine many aspects of youth development such as the causes of alcohol, marijuana and drug use and dependence, crime and delinquency and positive youth and adult development.
We are now in the 28th year of interviewing the original first graders! SSDP is now focusing on the patterns of substance use in the 20s and 30’s. Some of the goals of the project include:
- Examining and predicting patterns of substance use, abuse and dependence from adolescence into the thirties.
- Examining and predicting the consequences of childhood, adolescent and adult substance use on adult functioning and health at ages 30 and 33.
- Assessing the long-term contribution of social development interventions in elementary grades to the promotion of adult role consolidation, and to the prevention of substance use at ages 30 and 33.
- Testing the effectiveness of the SSDP Intervention
- Examining the etiology (causes) and consequences of substance use and other problem behaviors.
Vulnerability to develop substance use disorders is influenced by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. We have begun a program study on how genes and environment work together in affecting the development of tobacco and alcohol addiction in adulthood.