- Early Learning (PreK)
- Elementary (K-5)
- Middle School (6-8)
- High School (9-12)
- Out-of-School Time (K-5)
- SEL for Adults (K-12)
- Bullying Prevention Unit (K-5)
- Child Protection Unit (PreK-5)
This program is approved for WV Expanded School Mental Health.
Last reviewed: 2023
Goals for Second Step SEL programs:
- Improve executive functioning skills
- Increase skills for learning
- Increase empathy and friendship skills
- Improve emotion management, self-regulation, and social-emotional skills
- Increase on-task behavior
- Increase school-readiness
Goals for Bullying Prevention Unit:
- Improve student's ability to recognize, report, and refuse bullying
Goals for Child Protection Unit:
- Increase knowledge of personal safety rules
- Increase ability to recognize unsafe and sexually abusive situations and touches
- Increase ability to report unsafe and sexually abusive situations and touches
- Increase ability to refuse unsafe and sexually abusive situations and touches
Continuum of Care:
Anxiety, Behavioral Health/Mental Health, Disruptive Behaviors, Physical Health, Trauma
Childhood (4-12), Teen/Adolescent (13-18)
Community-Based, School-Based, Virtual
A balanced amount of the research involved diverse populations
The programs are for school staff, parents, and students grades PreK-12.
Programs are implemented by school administrators and teachers.
Is Training Required?
Yes, see developer info
Who can provide the required training?
Information for training can be found here: https://www.secondstep.org/help/second-step-training
Program Costs (materials, training, etc.):
Yes, refer to program website
Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research:
Cooke, M. B., Ford, J., Levine, J., Bourke, C., Newell, L., & Lapidus, G. (2007). The effects of city-wide implementation of “Second Step” on elementary school students’ prosocial and aggressive behaviors. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 28(2), 93–115. https://doi-org.wvu.idm.oclc.
Espelage, D. L., Low, S., Van Ryzin, M. J., & Polanin, J. R. (2015). Clinical trial of Second Step Middle School Program: Impact on bullying, cyberbullying, homophobic teasing, and sexual harassment perpetration. School Psychology Review, 44(4), 464–479. https://doi-org.wvu.idm.oclc.
Low, S., Cook, C. R., Smolkowski, K., & Buntain-Ricklefs, J. (2015). Promoting social–emotional competence: An evaluation of the elementary version of Second Step®. Journal of School Psychology, 53(6), 463–477. https://doi-org.wvu.idm.oclc.
Low, S., Smolkowski, K., Cook, C., & Desfosses, D. (2019). Two-year impact of a universal social-emotional learning curriculum: Group differences from developmentally sensitive trends over time. Developmental Psychology, 55(2), 415–433. https://doi-org.wvu.idm.oclc.
Moy, G. E., & Hazen, A. (2018). A systematic review of the second step program. Journal of School Psychology, 71, 18–41. https://doi-org.wvu.idm.oclc.
Moy, G., Polanin, J. R., McPherson, C., & Phan, T.-V. (2018). International adoption of the Second Step program: Moderating variables in treatment effects. School Psychology International, 39(4), 333–359. https://doi-org.wvu.idm.oclc.
Nickerson, A. B., Tulledge, J., Manges, M., Kesselring, S., Parks, T., Livingston, J. A., & Dudley, M. (2019). Randomized controlled trial of the Child Protection Unit: Grade and gender as moderators of CSA prevention concepts in elementary students. Child Abuse & Neglect, 96. https://doi-org.wvu.idm.oclc.
Sullivan, T. N., Sutherland, K. S., Farrell, A. D., & Taylor, K. A. (2015). An evaluation of Second Step: What are the benefits for youth with and without disabilities? Remedial and Special Education, 36(5), 286–298. https://doi-org.wvu.idm.oclc.
Taub, J. (2002). Evaluation of the Second Step Violence Prevention Program at a rural elementary school. School Psychology Review, 31(2), 186–200.
Upshur, C. C., Wenz-Gross, M., Rhoads, C., Heyman, M., Yoo, Y., & Sawosik, G. (2019). A randomized efficacy trial of the Second Step Early Learning (SSEL) curriculum. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 62, 145–159. https://doi-org.wvu.idm.oclc.
Supported by Research
»WV Ratings Info
Rationale for Rating:
This review was in-between well-supported and supported categories. Although we were able to review 2 meta-analyses, results from these meta-analyses showed significant and moderate effects for knowledge gained, but no effects and/or minimal effects for improvement in prosocial behaviors or reductions in antisocial behaviors. Second Step has been well-researched and we reviewed several RCT's demonstrating effectiveness across categories (prosocial and antisocial behaviors, knowledge, executive functioning, etc.), albeit some of these results were small and some studies found no significant results in the targeted outcomes. The Child Protection Unit had the most convincing results, with one good RCT demonstrating positive effects.
Contraindications or Concerns:
The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare:
Supported by Research Evidence
Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development:
Not On Registry
Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness:
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Model Programs Guide:
No Effects - One study
Washington State Institute for Public Policy:
Found on the registry. See link for more information.
Washington State Institute for Public Policy Registry Link: