Berrueta-Clement, J. R., L. J. Schweinhard, W. S. Barnett, and D. P. Weikart
The Effects of Early Educational Intervention on Crime and Delinquency in Adolescence and Early Adulthood. In: J. D. Burchard and S. N. Burchard, (eds.) Prevention of Delinquent Behavior. Beverly Hills, Ca: Sage Publications.
This chapter is a longitudinal overview of the Perry Preschool Project (initiated in 1962), using both self-report and official records of juvenile and adult criminal activity. Detailed demographic tables are included that compare schooling, family composition and employment, and household densities at entry (1962-65) and 11 years later; preschool vs. control groups are compared in the latter table. Excellent sections are presented with details of the study and the theoretical framework, the basis of which is that educational success is seen as an effective prevention of delinquency. Also included are detailed descriptions of the statistical analyses used.
Simply stated, the data showed a statistically significant reduction in criminal and delinquent activity for those who were en-rolled in the preschool. Both juvenile and adult records showed reductions in the areas of proportions of persons arrested/charged, total numbers of arrests, and instances of property crimes. They state: "Early intervention reduced arrests by half, and the proportion of persons arrested from one-half to less than one third." Tables were presented giving official records data and self-report data; it would have been informative to look at the correlation between those two sets of data. Educational outcomes were also compared for the two groups, again showing that the preschool experience had lasting, positive effects for the participants.
The authors are careful not to state any causal mechanisms; rather, they confine their analysis to the observed behaviors that were quantified by this study. The two main findings are: 1) there seems to be a relationship between early educational success and decreased delinquency behavior, and 2) patterns of behavior can be identified early in a child's life that are predictive of later behavior. It is pointed out that the cost of the preschool was much less than both societal and judicial costs of later criminal activity.
Hiew, C. and G. MacDonald
Delinquency Prevention Through Promoting Social Competence in Adolescents. Canadian Journal of Criminology 28:291-302.
In this article, "social competence" is defined as job interview skills, with a stated rationale that youth employment is thought to be a deterrent to delinquency. While this is an admirable, and probably correct, observation, the target population of this study were general high-school students who wanted part-time jobs. No data were presented as to the actual risk of delinquency for the students involved in this particular program. Alternately, no data were presented as to 1) the actual rate of delinquency in this population, or 2) the efficacy of this program in preventing delinquency (which might be seen as a drop in the crime rate of the program participants during their involvement).
The 5-week program consisted of 3 hours/week of job interview skills (using simulated job interviews and job situation scenarios); some students were given support through Chamber of Commerce contacts. Students were randomly assigned to one of four groups: training with contacts, training without contacts, waiting list but with assessment of skills, and no contact. All students were polled as to their later employment status. The only assessment referred to by the data was for employment, no delinquency data were reported for either the pre- or post-training periods. This article really has no real link to delinguency prevention; a lack of immediate delinquency in a low-risk (or unknown-risk) population is NOT compelling evidence for a program's "preventing delinquency".
Tolan, P.H., M.S. Perry, and T. Jones
Delinquency Prevention: An Example on Consultation in Rural Community Mental Health. Special Issue: Applied Community Psychology. Journal of Community Psychology 15:43-50.
Describes the effect of a secondary prevention program designed to reduce recidivism in a rural community, comparing 55 subjects (aged 8-18 years) assigned to the program and 177 subjects (aged 6-18 years) who appeared for their 1st offense prior to implementation of the program. Results show that program participants had a recidivism rate 1/4 that of non participants. Results are attributed to change in the court's approach to its task of dealing with delinquency in the community. It is suggested that rural communities present unique aspects such as geography isolation, different cultural values, and limited professional resources.