Delinquency Prevention Programs

An NIJ-funded study surveyed principals, teachers, program leaders and students about how their school system supported school safety, the effect of programs, and the response to problem behavior. Researchers found that although almost all U.S. public schools have many programs to target school violence and enforce discipline, these programs are not always effective and often do not meet quality standards.

The research established that (1) high-quality activities [1] can make a measurable difference in problem behavior, and (2) activities known to be effective do not work if poorly implemented. Seven factors contribute to high-quality delinquency prevention activities:

  1. Training is extensive and of high quality.
  2. Program activities are supervised at all levels.
  3. The school principal supports prevention programs and is perceived by staff as an effective education leader.
  4. Activities are highly structured, programs are scripted, and both follow manuals and implementation standards and use quality control mechanisms.
  5. Programs are locally initiated and run by school insiders, researchers or district personnel but are not necessarily locally developed. Externally developed programs tended to be of higher quality than locally developed programs.
  6. Activities are selected from a wide variety of sources, including district personnel and outside experts.
  7. Activities are integrated into the regular school program. Implementing the program is a formal part of the implementer’s job. Activities are a regular part of the school program, do not depend on volunteers, and are conducted during the school day (not after school or on weekends).

Notes

[1] Activities were considered “high quality” if they met nine quality criteria, including using 70 percent or more of identified best practices for both content and methodology, having a significant duration, having frequent student and staff participation, and having multiple sessions conducted by staff on a regular basis. For more detail on these criteria, see “Toward Safe and Orderly Schools—The National Study of Delinquency Prevention in Schools ,” by Gary D. Gottfredson et al., Research in Brief (November 2004): 6–7. NCJ 205005. (pdf, 20 pages)

Date Created: May 22, 2008