Favorable attitudes toward problem behaviors, friends who engage in problem behaviors, and early initiation of a problem behavior are all risk factors for violence and aggression, substance abuse, and low academic achievement and/or school dropout. Research conducted over the past few decades demonstrates that many of the risk factors that increase the likelihood of these problem behaviors in children and adolescents are consistent over multiple problem areas.
Extensive research has also identified how protective factors that help safeguard children from engaging in one of these problem behaviors often help to prevent not just that one, but multiple problem behaviors. Thus, developing social emotional learning skills, bonding with the school/teacher, and adopting conventional norms about substance use and aggression are all protective factors that decrease the likelihood of violence behavior and substance use, while increasing the likelihood of student success both socially and academically.
Too Good programs are based on an accepted Theory of Change employing strategies and teaching key behavioral skills shown to promote healthy decision making and positive outcomes.
The Too Good programs are designed to prevent complex problems with many contributing factors, thus, they are multifaceted and based on several theoretical constructs which have been strongly supported by research in the prevention field. This Theory of Change shows how we believe these interventions can change the trajectory of a child's life. The theoretical foundation of Too Good includes elements of:
According to the Social Learning Theory, drug use is a socially learned, purposeful behavior that is shaped primarily through modeling (observing behaviors) and reinforcement (experiencing positive consequences for behavior). Modeling contributes to the development of both pro-social and anti-social behaviors. This theory is based on a self-efficacy paradigm in which behavior change and maintenance depend on expectations about the outcomes (risks & benefits) of engaging in the behavior, as well as a sense of self-efficacy (expectations about one's ability to engage in the behavior).
Too Good programs also use Social Learning Theory by addressing social influences such as peers, advertising, and media and by correcting misperception of social norms; persuading students of the value of pro-social behaviors; emphasizing the development of social and personal skills to resist social and environmental pressures to use drugs; and modeling pro-social skills, offering opportunities to perform the skills and providing rewards and recognition for using them.
From the perspective of Problem Behavior Theory, drug use and other highly correlated behaviors form a syndrome of purposive behaviors which are psychologically functional for many adolescents. Problem Behavior Theory posits that efforts to change behavior may focus on any or all of the following levels: behavior, personality, and environment.
An extension of Problem Behavior Theory, Health Behavior Theory, proposes that strategies be used to introduce or strengthen health-enhancing behaviors and simultaneously weaken or eliminate health-compromising behaviors. This theoretical approach suggests that prevention efforts should attend to the larger environment, including social norms and social supports regulating the occurrence of behaviors and interventions should focus on multiple behavioral targets.
Some of the assumptions underlying the Too Good programs are based on Problem Behavior Theory and Health Behavior Theory providing normative education, teaching tips, and a parent component designed to make the school and family environments more supportive of drug-free and non-violent choices. They provide role-play and decision-making scenarios not only dealing with aggression and alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, but with other problem behaviors as well.
The Social Development Model is an integration of Social Control and Social Learning Theory. The Social Development Model emphasizes the importance of protective factors: (a) bonding to pro-social family, school, peers and community and (b) clear standards or norms of behavior. According to this model, positive socialization occurs when youth have the opportunity to be involved in conforming activities, when they develop skills necessary to be successfully involved, and when those with whom they interact consistently reward desired behaviors. These conditions would increase attachment to others, commitment to conforming behavior, and belief in the conventional order. Too Good programs are based on the Social Development Model in that they build protective factors, including bonding and norms. The Too Good programs teach skills and provide opportunities and rewards/recognition for participation. They emphasize pro-social norms, providing activities and information to counter students' misperceptions regarding the actual level of drug use, and strongly support healthy normative beliefs and clear standards. They send a clear, no-use, non-violent message to students.
The Social Development Model asserts that children are affected by risk and protective factors in multiple domains: Individual/Peer, Family, School and Community. Too Good programs primarily address risk and protective factors in the Individual/Peer Domain, which are the factors best addressed in a classroom setting.
The Developmental Assets Framework (Search Institute) suggests positive, healthy youth development depends on the presence of developmental assets, 40 building blocks that all children need to grow up healthy, competent and caring. These assets are internal (i.e. educational commitment, values, social competencies and positive identity) and external (i.e., support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations). Their effect is cumulative; the more assets young people have, the more resilient they will be, and the more engaged in positive behaviors. The fewer assets they have, the more likely they are to become involved with drugs, violence and other antisocial behaviors. Too Good programs are based on many assumptions consistent with the Developmental Assets Framework, including a proactive, positive focus and a commitment to long-term building of internal and external assets, for all students, regardless of their risk. The goal of Too Good is not only to prevent problem behavior, but also to promote positive, healthy youth development.
A Science Based program is grounded in a well-established Theory of Change. Each of the Too Good programs employs strategies that scientific research has shown to reduce risk factors and build protective factors related to various risky or aggressive behaviors. A risk factor increases the risk of problem behaviors, while a protective factor buffers the risk and increases a child's chance of healthy development and success.
The Science-based Too Good prevention programs include measurable objectives that link the target group with the program goals demonstrating why and how the program is expected to work. They also have implementation guidelines (length of lessons, number of lessons taught in a given time period, etc.) and evaluation tools that enable the implementers as well as third-party evaluators to measure the intervention's effectiveness.
Too Good for Drugs K-8 and Too Good for Violence K-8, when followed by Too Good for Drugs & Violence High School, comprise consistent, sequential and comprehensive K-12 prevention education. Using Too Good for Drugs & Violence After-School Activities further reinforces safe and drug-free norms and skills. Using Too Good for Drugs & Violence Staff Development helps to strengthen educator's reinforcement of positive skills and norms, improving the school environment and contributing further to students' success. The parent and community components extend the Too Good message and behaviors into the home and community domains.
The Mendez Foundation developed Logic Models for the Too Good programs to map out the Theory of Change and demonstrate graphically the assumptions that drive Too Good at each developmental level. The logic model communicates an "if-then" message of what changes the program intends to produce.
Here are a few of the awards recognizing the effectiveness and high standards of the Too Good programs:
Recognition for Too Good for Drugs™ in Drug Strategies "Making the Grade": "Some very strong elements in this very detailed, 10 session per year curriculum. Provides developmentally appropriate information about alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. Normative education activities creative and compelling, new ideas for games. Includes no-use pledge."
Recognition for Too Good for Violence in Drug Strategies "Safe Schools, Safe Students": "A delightful package of materials (that) complements this highly interactive 4-9 session program. Strongly focused on critical skill areas. Extremely detailed instructions for teachers. Very complete."