Descriptive & Predictive Studies

Juvenile Delinquency Prevention -
Descriptive & Predictive Studies

Altschuler, D. M. and T. L. Armstrong


Intervening with Serious juvenile Offenders: A Summary of a Study on Community-Based Programs. In: R. A. Mathias, P. DeMuro, and R.S. Allinson (eds.), Violent juvenile Offenders, An Anthology. New York: National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

This chapter describes 11 delinquency prevention programs which served delinquents with non-violent but persistent patterns of delinquency. All programs were analyzed regarding intervention strategies used, educational approaches, and reintegration techniques. Their analysis identified 14 components grouped within 6 categories: case management, reintegration, involvement and achievement, control and security, education, and counseling. It is unfortunate that no data is presented as to the efficacy of any of the programs; the reader is left wondering which ones worked. As such, there is no information presented regarding actual delinquency prevention.

Berger, R.J. and C.E. Berger


Community Organization Approaches to the Prevention of juvenile Delinquency. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 12:129-153.

Examines juvenile delinquency prevention programs that implement large-scale intervention and social change strategies. Three models of community organization (locality, development, social planning, and social action) are applied to three delinquency prevention programs: the Chicago Area Project (E. V. Mech, 1975), the 1960's provision of opportunity programs, and the 1960s' comprehensive community based projects such as Mobilization for Youth (L.T. Empey, 1982). Implications for victim-focused crime prevention are discussed.

Bry, B.H.


Reducing the Incidence of Adolescent Problems Through Preventative Intervention: One-and five-year follow-up. American Journal of Community Psychology 10:265-276.

Investigated whether a school based preventive intervention for high-risk adolescents, which had shown short-term effects of reducing predisposing factor, would show long term effects of reducing school and community delinquency problems and substance abuse. The 2-year intervention program had been conducted with 7th graders and had involved weekly report cards and conferences with experimenters. School records and interviews for 66 subjects (mean age 15 1/2 years) 1 year after the program and arrest records at 5 years for 60 subjects (mean age 19 1/2 years) suggest that the intervention reduced delinquency problems. The lack of an adequate control group makes this interpretation questionable. The evidence was less clear for substance abuse, suggesting that a better method for detecting substance abuse is needed.

Davidson, W.S. and J. Basta


The Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency: Diversion from the Juvenile justice System. In: R. Price, et. al (Eds.), 14 Ounces of Prevention. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association

Evaluation of a program for youth who have committed delinquent acts but have not yet been formally adjudicated. In the program a family worker spent 3 hours per week with the assigned youth for 16-18 weeks. The program was developed in four phases, each using variations of the intervention with different groups of offenders. The results were statistically significant for two of the interventions phases and approached significance in the others.


Diversion from the Juvenile justice System: Research Evidence and a Discussion of Issues. In: B. B. Lahey and A. E. Kazdin (eds.), Advances in Clinical Child Psychology. New York: Plenum Press, pg. 85-111.

Describes the development of a promising approach to the prevention of recurrent juvenile delinquency, the specific context of the Adolescent Diversion Project (ADP); developing the original (ADP) model; participant youth; student volunteer; intervention model; results.

Fagan, J.


Neighborhood Education, Mobilization and Organization for Juvenile Crime Prevention. Annals, American Academy of Political and Social Science 494: 54-70

A large-scale intervention in six communities with high delinquency rates was designed to increase social controls and strengthen the bonding between family, school, peers and the community. Projects included mediation with schools and law enforcement agencies to change policies, youth activities such as jobs, youth councils, and community service opportunities. Evaluation revealed successes in 3 communities. However, the crime measures were not clearly supportive of this contention. Fagan suggests that the crime rate in specific areas did decline due to program impact, but he acknowledges that the neighborhood crime rate did not. This contention ignores such issues as displacement and the idea that criminals might be mobile and hence able to move their criminal activity to other areas. Programs that emphasized advocacy and institutional mediation appeared to be more effective than traditional social services in mobilizing residents to prevent juvenile crime and violence.

Good, D.H., M.A. Pirog-Good, and R.C. Sickels


An Analysis of Youth Crime and Employment Patterns. Journal of Quantitative Criminology 2:219-236.

Examined panel and individual data to study relationships between employment decisions and crime decision by youth. Data were collected on criminal records, employment histories, home life, and demography of 3,000 subjects (aged 13-18 years) enrolled in the Philadelphia Youth Services Center, a crime prevention program for inner-city, low-income, delinquency-prone youth. Application of a simultaneous profit model to the data allowed development of an economic and statistical model of contemporaneous and historical relationships between the employability and criminality of juveniles. Results suggest that improvement of youth employability reduces youth criminality.

Gottfredson, D.C.


An Assessment of a Delinquency Prevention Demonstration with Both Individual and Environmental Interventions. Center for Social Organization of Schools Report, John Hopkins University Feb Rpt:72.

Examined a school-based delinquency prevention program that combined an organizational change approach with direct intervention for high-risk youths to reduce delinquent behavior and improve educational experiences. Evaluation results imply that the direct student services, as implemented, did not reduce delinquent behavior, but did increase commitment to education. The program was effective in improving school climate. Students grew more attached to school and perceived an increase in the fairness of school rules. The evidence supports the conclusion that the program is an effective model for reducing several risk factors for delinquent behavior for the school population as a whole and for increasing educational outcomes for high risk individuals.


An Empirical Test of School-Based Environmental and Individual Interventions to Reduce the Risk of Delinquent Behavior. Criminology 24: 705-731

The study summarizes the evaluation of a 3 year delinquency prevention program implemented between 1980 and 1983. Known as PATHE, it was based in part on the social development model which predicts that student involvement in constructive learning activities and consistent rewards for successful participation prevent delinquency by fostering attachment to school. The program combined an school-wide innovations with direct intervention for high-risk youths to reduce delinquent behavior. The program was not successful in reducing delinquent behavior for high-risk students but did produce small reductions in delinquency for the general population. The program did increase commitment to education as indicated by rates of dropout, retention, graduations and achievement test scores.

Hawkins, J.D. and T. Lam


Teacher Practices, Social Development, and Delinquency. In: J.D. Burchard and S.N. Burchard (eds.), Prevention of Delinquent Behavior. Beverly Hills, Ca: Sage Publications, pg. 241-274.

This article reports the results of one component of a delinquency prevention study involving seventh grade students in Seattle conducted in the early 1980s. It focuses on instructional methods as part of school-focused intervention for delinquency. The entire project sought to test the combined and individual effects of the social development model of delinquency prevention. Integrating the social control and social learning theories, the social development model describes stages of development or socialization at which point an individual establishes social bonds to family, school, and peers and accordingly identifies intervention approaches. Certain conditions exist that foster the development of bonds of attachment, commitment, and belief. These conditions are the opportunities for involvement, skill development, and reinforcement. All three conditions must be present to establish a family bond and thus, equivalent bonds to school and prosocial peers. The model implies that families, school and peers are appropriate objects for intervention, and that timing of intervention is dependent on the development of the child.

The school-focused interventions tested in the study sought to improve classroom instruction, promote positive student experiences, and enhance the development of social bonds to ultimately prevent delinquency. The article specifically evaluates the potential of a set of classroom instructional methods as intervention for delinquency development. These methods included proactive classroom management, interactive teaching, and cooperative learning. No Data are provided which demonstrate impact on delinquency.

Hawkins and Lam conclude that the experimental classroom-based instruction may create an environment of greater opportunity for involvement and skill development and thus affect certain school-related delinquent behaviors.

Huizinga, D., F. Esbensen and A.W. Weiher


Are There Multiple Paths to Delinquency? The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 82:83-118

Using data from the Denver Youth Survey, the authors offer a preliminary examination of the existence of multiple paths leading to delinquency. They find that there are different types of delinquents and different routes to any given type of delinquency. These findings suggests that simplistic and single-factor approaches to delinquency prevention or control won't work because there are multiple pathways to delinquency.

Kimbrough, J.


School-Based Strategies for Delinquency Prevention. In: P.W. Greenwood (ed.), Intervention Strategies for Chronic Juvenile Offenders: Some New Perspectives. New York: Greenwood Press, pg. 193-206.

This article describes the potential of school-based strategies for delinquency prevention. These strategies are based on the theory of situation determinism which is a relatively new approach to the problem of delinquency. Focusing on observable behaviors and situations in which such behaviors emerge, situational determinism implies that negative behavior is maintained and possibly caused by the social environment. Strategies reviewed in this article include cooperative team learning, participatory problem solving/decision making, proactive classroom management, and interactive teaching. Such strategies were implemented in a couple of studies conducted in the early 1980s which discovered only subtle changes in student achievement and delinquency.

Behavior modification is another strategy offering promising potential for delinquency prevention. Teacher praise, approval, positive attention, and token economies are just a few examples of behavior modification strategies. One study of token economies demonstrated that such a strategy could be successfully implemented school-wide. Some of the former strategies such as cooperative learning are derived from basic behavior modification strategies. Yet unlike cooperative learning, behavior modification does not suffer from methodological weaknesses.

Kimbrough concludes that despite differences in research methods, all studies cited have produced consistency in recognizing school-based strategies as prevention for delinquency and delinquency-related behaviors.

Larzelere, R.E. and G.R. Patterson


Parental Management: Mediator of The Effect of Socioeconomic Status on Early Delinquency. Criminology 28: 301-323

This study used structural equation modeling with longitudinal data from the Oregon Youth Study to test the hypothesis that the effect of socioeconomic status on delinquency in early adolescence would be mediated entirely by parental management skills. The hypothesis was supported: the direct effect of SES on delinquency was not significant after controlling for parental management. The Oregon Youth Study measured parental management by multiple measures, of parental discipline and monitoring. Data included observational data of frequency of negative parent-to-child communication, observers rating of parental discipline, parental interview items about discipline, interviews with the youth and two measures of delinquency. This study does have delinquency prevention implications in suggesting that parenting variables are important in explaining delinquency and thus classes/training in parenting may be efficacious.

Lindsay, E. W. and D. P. Kurtz


Evaluation of a School-Juvenile Court Team Approach to Delinquency Prevention. Children & Youth Services Review 9:101-115.

Evaluated a school-juvenile court liaison project, which was designed to assist schools and courts in working cooperatively to intervene in and prevent delinquency. School and court systems from five Georgia counties participated. School-juvenile court teams were developed from each area; teams ranged.from 2-5 members and were composed largely of school social workers and court service workers. Teams worked on local needs assessment, goal setting, and program planning.

Loeber, R, M. Stouthamer-Loeber, W. Van Kammen, and D. Farrington


Initiation, Escalation and Desistance in Juvenile Offending and Their Correlates. The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 82:36-82

Using data from the Pittsburgh Youth Study, they identify sets of variables related to the onset, continuance, and desistance of delinquency. They explore these co-variants within three different age cohorts. Their work suggests that prevention programs should be constructed differently based on the age of the clients.

Tremblay, R. E., F. Vitaro, L. Bertrand, M. LeBlanc, et al.


Parent and Child Training to Prevent Early Onset of Delinquency; the Montreal Longitudinal Experimental Study. In: J. McCord and R. E. Tremblay, (eds.), Preventing Antisocial Behavior: Interventions from Birth Through Adolescence. New York: Guilford Press, pg. 117-138.

Conducted a longitudinal-experimental study to describe the Cossack interactions of disruptive boys during the primary school years, and also verify the effects of both parent training and children's social skills training for the prevention of delinquency behavior; the study's population consisted of kindergarten boys from low socio-economic areas of Montreal; 1,034 subjects were retained for the longitudinal study; this total sample has been followed early from age 10 onward.

Thompson, D.W. and L.A. Jason


Street Gangs and Preventive Interventions. Criminal Justice and Behavior 15: 323-333

This article presents an evaluation of a school-based intervention aimed at youth at risk for joining street gangs. In a quasi-experimental design, targeted youth were assigned to one of two levels of treatment or to a no-treatment control group. Results were statistically non-significant but the sample size was small. However, the difference was in favor of the school-based intervention: four members of the control group and 1 experimental group member were subsequently identified as gang members. Implications of the study for public policy and methodological difficulties are discussed.

Thornberry, T.P., A.J. Lizotte, M.D. Krohn, M. Farnworth and S.J. Jang


Testing Interactional Theory: An examination of Reciprocal Causal Relationships Among Family, School, and Delinquency. The journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 82:3-35

Using data from the Rochester Youth Development Study, the authors test an interactional model of attachment to parents and commitment to school. They found that weakened bonds to family & school do cause delinquency and, additionally, delinquent behavior further attenuates the strength of the bonds to family and school. They note that there is no single, direct pathway to delinquency. They also suggest that family interventions should start relatively early in life.

Werner, E. E.


Vulnerability and Resiliency in Children at Risk for Delinquency; A Longitudinal Study from Birth to Young Adulthood. In: J. D. Burchard and S. N. Burchard (eds.), Prevention of Delinquent Behavior. Beverly Hills, Ca: Sage Publication, pg. 16-43.

Publications on delinquency in her longitudinal study of Kauai children. She talks about resiliency or protective factor that mediate an adverse environment. The presence of a protective, mentoring adult is a key protective factor for the at-risk children in her study.


The Children of Kauai: Resiliency and Recovery in Adolescence and Adulthood. Journal of Adolescent Health 13:262-268.

This is an extension of Werner's study looking at the protective factors which may help an at-risk child avoid consequences of an adverse environment. It seems that her earlier finding that a child's relationship with one stable adult provides the basis for resiliency holds over time. She also links her findings to those of others who have studied other cultures, and states that the factors underlying resiliency (or the lack thereof) may be the same regardless of the cultural environment. She makes a point of showing that, "...only 28% of males and 10% of females with juvenile offense records also had a criminal record by age 32..." She identifies 5 clusters of protective factors: temperamental characteristics of the child, skills and values, care giving styles and characteristics of the parents, the presence of supportive adults with whom children could bond, and opportunities opening up at major life transitions. She feels that, "...promotion of self esteem and self-efficacy ... are key ingredients in any effective intervention process... "

Lastly, she points out that intervention programs need to assess both risk factors and protective factors in a child's life.


Overcoming the Odds. Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 15(2):131-136.

This is the latest in the longitudinal assessment of children at risk in Kauai. In addition to descriptions of the "resilient" children, she includes adult follow-ups regarding coping, teen pregnancy, learning difficulties, and criminal behavior. In looking at adult criminal behavior, she stresses the importance of an intact family unit as a protective factor. An important point is made in differentiating familial or elder involvement in rehabilitation from foster home placement or Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility interventions (both of which were not effective). Werner also looked at the programs which were effective and found that they were comprehensive, intensive, and flexible. But most importantly, the most effective programs were based in the needs of the clients, rather than being driven by, "...perceptions, demands, and boundaries set by bureaucracy."

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