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Save Children From a Life of Crime

NCJ Number
Criminology & Public Policy Volume: 6 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2007 Pages: 871-880
Brandon C. Welsh; David P. Farrington
Date Published
November 2007
10 pages
This paper summarizes quality scientific evidence on early risk factors for offending and the effectiveness of early prevention programs that address these factors, and it offers policy recommendations.
At the individual-level, preschool intellectual enrichment and child skills training programs are effective in preventing delinquency and later offending. Preschool intellectual enrichment programs generally target children with the risk factors of low intelligence and attainment. Improved cognitive skills, school readiness, and social and emotional development are the main goals of these programs. Social skills training for children generally address the risk factors of impulsivity, low empathy, and self-centeredness. At the family level, program features that are effective in preventing delinquency and later offending include general parent education in the context of home visiting and day care, as well as parent management training programs. Home visiting with new parents, especially mothers, is a prevalent method of delivering the family-based intervention. The primary goal of home visiting programs is to educate parents about parenting methods that improve the life chances of children from a young age. Parent management training involves training parents in ways to alter their children's behavior at home. At the environmental level, several school-based programs are effective in preventing delinquency and later offending, and two community-based programs (after-school and mentoring) show promise, but require more evaluation research. The Federal Government should establish a council that will promote a national early crime-prevention strategy in the United States. This council should be permanent. Its functions should be to provide technical assistance, skills, and knowledge to State and local agencies regarding the implementation of prevention programs, as well as providing funding for such programs. 22 references