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Cartoons to Indicate Aggressiveness in Urban School Girls

identify children who might benefit from intervention."

The cartoons were drawn by Michael Grossman, R.N., M.S.N., a nursing administrator at Children's Hospital and a co-author of the study. He drew 10 cartoons, each illustrating a written vignette describing a provocative social situation. At this stage of the research, Dr. Leff and colleagues then asked a number of urban African American girls how to adapt the cartoons to make them more culturally sensitive and engaging.

The girls suggested dressing the characters in more feminine clothes, giving them sneakers instead of shoes, braiding their hair, and giving them more neutral facial expressions, among other things (see attached graphic showing one cartoon vignette before and after the girls' feedback). "Our goal was to make the cartoons developmentally and culturally sensitive to the children we want to reach," said Dr. Leff, adding, "We believe that partnering with research participants helps to ensure the meaningfulness of the eventual study results."

After Mr. Grossman revised the cartoons based on the girls' comments, the researchers tested the cartoons with other groups of 3rd and 4th grade girls in school. Here the researchers compared the girls' responses to the written vignettes alone to the use of written and cartoon vignettes together. They found that, as a testing tool, the cartoons were equivalent in accuracy to the written vignettes, but that the children consistently preferred using the cartoons.

The rationale for using either testing tool, Dr. Leff pointed out, is to identify children who are at risk of aggression, and thus follow-up studies will concentrate on techniques to prevent aggressive behavior. Those techniques, he said, teach children to "slow down, recognize their emotional arousal, cool down and analyze social situations" and to do problem solving when faced with a challenging situation. "For children who may be prone to misinterpret
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