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The outcomes speak for themselves.

There's no doubt the program works.


  • Out-of-school suspensions for violent behavior went down 55%
  • General aggression, retaliation aggression, and total aggression combined decreased by 62%
  • Choice making using empathy increased by 42%
  • Teachers rated students' display of violence to decrease by 66%
  • Teachers and guidance counselors report an 80-100% improvement in students' ability to walk away from fights, concentrate in class, learn appropriate ways of reacting to a bully, and take responsibility to help another
  • Teachers also report improved grade point averages and standardized test scores of children who receive Healing Species



Outcomes from Healing Species' 2009-2012 service to youth in alternative schools or who had been referred to Healing Species through the Department of Juvenile Justice or Youth Arbitration include:

Post-intervention data show referrals declined from 0.84 to 0.47 per day among program participants. The improvement noted among the students also represented a 72% decline in referrals for violent or aggressive behavior among Lexington County students completing Healing Species in the fall 2010.

Students exhibited greatly improved classroom behavior according to teacher reports. Pre-/post-intervention scores are shown below (scale of 1-10):

  • Never acting out – 3.75 / 7.67
  • Always accepting responsibility – 4.00 / 7.33
  • Always using appropriate conflict resolution skills – 3.75 / 6.50
  • Always showing kindness and respect for others – 4.00 / 7.67
  • Never exhibiting aggressive behaviors (yelling, refusing to do work) – 4.00 / 7.00
  • Never exhibiting hostile behaviors (hitting, fighting) – 5.00 / 8.33
  • Never exhibiting bullying behaviors (intimidating others, taunting, "picking on" others) – 4.00 / 7.33


There were 4 new delinquency referrals among the 256 youth who have completed Healing Species since 2009. A total of 35 youth have incurred new referrals, which yielded a recidivism rate of 35÷256 = 13.7%.

Grades improved across the fall and spring cohorts. The average grade point average increased from 2.14 to 2.48, indicating higher academic achievement among program participants from pre-test to post-test.


  • The percentage of respondents who reported drinking alcohol declined by nearly two-thirds, from 97.62% to 39.39%.
  • The number of participants reporting current marijuana use dropped from 98.79% to 28.57%.
  • Fewer participants reported using drugs other illegal drugs. The number abstaining increased from 2.41% to 78.57%.


At-risk students who received the Healing Species program in 4th-6th grade in Orangeburg, SC were surveyed in 2012, at the close of their 9th and 10th grade years at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School.

  • 46.72% of the 244 students who received the survey reported having received Healing Species lessons during their 4th-6th grade years.
  • 78% of those student said, "Yes" it helped them and changed their lives.
  • Many students remembered verbatim lesson material 3-6 years after receiving the program:
    • "I don't make as many poor choices as I used to in middle school."
    • "Tell someone when you are being abused."
    • "You get help from a trusted adult."
    • "Don't let things ruin you as an individual."
    • "Healing Species has prevented fights from even beginning, because if I get too angry, I just walk away."
    • "Handle situations calmly and level minded."
    • "I love the dogs that come and I enjoy the program."
    • "One of my friends wanted to fight me and I was the bigger person and walked away."
    • "To stay in school and encourage others."
    • "I decided to talk it out with the girl instead of fighting."
    • "How to handle abuse and tell an adult."
    • "Please come to this school!"

For the former recipients of Healing Species as compared to the total at-large 9th and 10th grade population, aggressive behavior referrals are lower and attendance, GPA, and promotion rates are higher - 4-6 years after they received Healing Species!


4.72% of former Healing Species students had Violent or Aggressive Behavior Referrals, compared to 6.84% of the total population. 

Attendance for former Healing Species students was 98.16%, as compared to 95.59% of the total OW High population. 

The average GPA of former Healing Species students was 2.971 as compared to 2.743 of the total population. 

The promotion rate of former HS students was 93.4%, as compared to 89.3% of the total population.

(School Data from OCSD5, July 2012)



Contact us with your interest in the Healing Species Violence Prevention program at your school, facility or other venue. Check out our Satellite Chapters. The Founding Chapter serves South Carolina, with Satellite Chapters serving students in other states and countries.


Sprinkle, J. E. (2008). Animals, empathy, and violence: Can animals be used to convey principles of prosocial behavior to children? Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 6(1), 47-58. Pearson, W. J. (2011). The Healing Species: Animal-assisted character education for improving student behavior. Journal of Youth Development: Bridging Research and Practice, 6(1).


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Program Results - RIGHT


The Healing Species Violence Prevention Program is an approved Propitious Model Program for At-Risk Youth with the South Carolina Department of Education.