SCHOOL-BASED CRIME PREVENTION
by Denise C. Gottfredson1
Schools have great potential as a locus for crime prevention. They provide regular access to students throughout the developmental years, and perhaps the only consistent access to large numbers of the most crime-prone young children in the early school years; they are staffed with individuals paid to help youth develop as healthy, happy, productive citizens; and the community usually supports schools' efforts to socialize youth. Many of the precursors of delinquent behavior are school-related and therefore likely to be amenable to change through school-based intervention.
Figure 5-1 shows several school-related precursors to delinquency identified by research. These factors include characteristics of school and classroom environments as well as individual-level school-related experiences and attitudes, peer group experiences, and personal values, attitudes, and beliefs. School environment factors related to delinquency include availability of drugs, alcohol, and other criminogenic commodities such as weapons; characteristics of the classroom and school social organization such as strong academic mission and administrative leadership; and a climate of emotional support. School-related experiences and attitudes which often precede delinquency include poor school performance and attendance, low attachment to school, and low commitment to schooling. Peer-related experiences, many of which are school-centered, include rejection by peers and association with delinquent peers. And individual factors include early problem behavior, impulsiveness or low levels of self-control, rebellious attitudes, beliefs favoring law violation, and low levels of social competency skills such as identifying likely consequences of actions and alternative solutions to problems, taking the perspective of others, and correctly interpreting social cues. Several recent reviews summarize the research literature linking these factors with crime (Gottfredson, Sealock, & Koper, 1996; Hawkins, Catalano, & Miller, 1992; Howell, Krisberg, Wilson & Hawkins, 1995).
Figure 5-1 also draws attention to fact that schools operate in larger contexts which influence their functioning as well as their outcomes. By far the strongest correlates of school disorder are characteristics of the population and community contexts in which schools are located. Schools in urban, poor, disorganized communities experience more disorder than other schools (Gottfredson & Gottfredson, 1985). Research has also demonstrated that the human resources needed to implement and sustain school improvement efforts -- leadership, teacher morale, teacher mastery, school climate, and resources -- are found less often in urban than in Figure 1: Christina's Figure 5-1 other schools (Gottfredson, Fink, Skroban, and Gottfredson, in press). It is precisely those schools whose populations are most in need of prevention and intervention services that are least able to provide those services. Although schools can not be expected to reverse their communities' problems, they can influence their own rates of disorder. Controlling on relevant characteristics of the larger community, characteristics of schools and the way they are run explain significant amounts of variation in school rates of disorderly behavior (Gottfredson & Gottfredson, 1985).
National priorities for children focus on schools as a locus for the prevention of diverse social problems including crime. The Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2000 goals include increasing high school graduation rates and reducing physical fighting, weapon-carrying, substance use, and pregnancy among adolescents. National Education Goal 6 states that every school will be free of drugs, violence, and the unauthorized presence of firearms and alcohol, and will offer a disciplined environment conducive to learning by the year 2000. The 1986 Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act legislation provided substantial funds to states to develop and operate school-based drug prevention programs. In 1994 this legislation was modified to authorize expenditures on school-based violence prevention programs as well.
This substantial national interest in schools as a prevention tool is not matched by federal expenditures in this area. Table 5-1 shows that federal expenditures on school-based substance abuse and crime prevention efforts are modest,2 particularly when compared with federal expenditures on control strategies such as policing and prison construction.3 Perhaps more troubling, the meager federal expenditures on school-based prevention are not well spent. The single largest federal expenditure on school-based prevention (Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities monies administered by the U.S. Department of Education) funds a relatively narrow range of intervention strategies, many of which have been shown either not to work
Table 5-1. Partial List of Federal Expenditures on School-based Prevention
Federal Program Agency Funding Strategies level Safe and Drug-Free DOE FY95: State and local education agency programs: instruction, Schools & 466.98M student assistance programs, teachers and staff training, Communities curriculum development and acquisition; red-ribbon week; Program before-after-school programs and community service. Note: Prior to Governor's state and local programs: Instruction 1994, this program (D.A.R.E.), replication of other drug education programs, funded drug high-risk youth programs programs in schools. The 1994 legislation authorized expenditures on violence prevention programs and curricula as well. High-Risk Youth DHHS FY95: 65.2M Various. In-school and after-school programs; violence Demonstration [CSAP] and drug prevention. Program Youth Violence DHHS FY95: 10.7M Various. Projects include instruction (violence Prevention Program [CDC] prevention, self-control, social competency; cognitive behavioral methods, tutoring, mentoring, recreation, campaigns to change norms, peer mediation and conflict resolution, changes in school management processes, parent training) Community Schools DHHS FY95: 10M Various. Prevention and academic achievement enhancement Youth Services and [Admin-ist during the non-school hours. Supervision ration Program for Children, Youth, & Families] Learn & Serve Corporatio FY95: 32M Community service tied to the school curriculum. Attempt America n for FY96: 32M to engage youths in school to prevent dropout. Character Program National education. Service D.A.R.E. (Drug DOJ/DOI FY95: 1.75M Instruction (core program and booster lessons); Abuse Resistance [BJA] FY96: 1.75M A recent extention of the program (D.A.R.E. + PLUS; Play Education) (To and Learn under Supervision) also includes and DOE D.A.R.E. after-school program. America) Plus annual funds from Byrne Block Grant Plus approx. 10M annually through Safe and Drug Free Schools program G.R.E.A.T. (Gang DOJ/ FY95: 16.2M Instruction Resistance TREAS Plus 265K Education and [ATF/NIJ] (eval) Training) C.I.S. (Cities in DOJ FY95: 592K School-based supportive services for at-risk students and Schools) [OJJDP] FY96: 340K their families JUMP (Juvenile DOJ FY96: 15M Mentoring Mentoring Program) [OJJDP] L.R.E. DOJ FY95: 2.7M Instruction, character education (Law-related [OJJDP] FY96: 1.2M education) Note: M=million; K=thousand
(e.g., counseling) or to have only small effects (e.g., drug instruction). School-based prevention monies administered by OJP also fail to capitalize on the full range of empirically-tested, effective strategies.
This chapter is intended to provide information for use in setting federal research agendas and guiding funding decisions about what works, what does not work, what is promising, and how delinquency prevention efforts can be strengthened. It begins by clarifying the outcomes sought in school-based prevention programs. It then classifies school-based prevention activities within two broad approaches -- environmental and individual-focused -- into more specific program types. Next it reviews research related to each type of activity, comments on the quality of the available information about the efficacy of each type of activity, and summarizes knowledge about what works, what does not work, and what is promising. It ends with a summary of findings and recommendations for OJP funding of school-based prevention interventions and further research.
The Nature of School-Based Prevention
Measures of effectiveness. School-based prevention programs include interventions to prevent a variety of forms of "problem behavior," including theft, violence, illegal acts of aggression, alcohol or other drug use; rebellious behavior, anti-social behavior, aggressive behavior, defiance of authority, and disrespect for others. These different forms of delinquent behavior are highly correlated and share common causes. Many of the programs considered in this chapter were not specifically designed to prevent the problem behaviors, but instead to affect presumed causal factors such as school drop-out, truancy, or other correlates which are expected to increase protection against or decrease risk towards engaging in problem behaviors at some later date. This focus on non-crime program outcomes is entirely appropriate given the young ages of many of the targeted students. Different outcomes have different saliencies for different age groups. Positive program effects on reading skills for six-year-olds may be as important in terms of later crime prevented as reducing marijuana use for sixteen-year-olds. Many prevention researchers and practitioners also assume a link between less serious problem behaviors and later more serious crime. They are satisfied when their interventions demonstrate effects on the early forms of problem behavior. This developmental perspective underlies many school-based prevention efforts today and may explain the wide variety of outcome measures used to assess the effectiveness of these programs, some of which are summarized in Figure 5-2.
Studies of the effects of school-based prevention on serious violent crime are rare. Of the 149 studies examined for this review, only 9 measured program outcomes on murder, rape, robbery or aggravated assault. Only 15 measured outcomes on serious property crimes such as burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. More (25) measured less serious or unspecified criminal behavior. Far more common are studies assessing program effects on alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use (77 studies) and other less serious forms of rebellious, anti-social, aggressive, or defiant behaviors (79 studies). Most studies measure the risk or protective factors directly targeted by the program (e.g., academic achievement, social competency skills).
Figure 5-2: Common Outcome Measures for School-based Prevention ProgramsAlcohol
and other drug use: Ingestion of alcoholic beverages and ingestion
of any illicit drug are considered substance abuse. Dimensions of use that
are often measured distinctly in evaluations of prevention programs include
age of first use (age at onset); status as having used alcohol or another
drugs at least once; and current use, including frequency of use and amount
typically used. Substance use is most often measured using youth self-reports
in evaluations of school-based prevention programs.
Delinquent and criminal behavior: Delinquent or criminal behavior is any behavior which is against the law. Delinquency is criminal behavior committed by a young person. Laws, and therefore the precise definition of behaviors in violation of the law, vary slightly from state to state. Crime and delinquency includes the full range of acts for which individuals could be arrested. It includes crimes against persons ranging in seriousness from murder to robbery to minor assault. It includes an array of crimes against property ranging from arson to felony theft to joyriding. Crime and delinquency also includes possession, use, and selling of drugs. For juveniles, it includes status offenses such as running away. Dimensions of crime that are often measured distinctly in evaluations include age of first involvement, status as a delinquent ever in one's life, current criminal activity, and frequency of delinquent involvement. Delinquency is more often measured using youth self-reports than official records of arrest or conviction in evaluations of school-based prevention programs.
Withdrawal from school: Leaving school prior to graduation from the 12th grade and truancy are often used as measures of success in prevention programs. The precise definition of truancy differs according to location. For practical purposes it is often measured as the number of days absent from school.
Conduct problems, low self-control, aggression: These characteristics are so highly related to delinquent behavior that they may be considered proxies for it. Studies of school-based prevention often measure these characteristics in addition to or in lieu of actual delinquent behavior because (1) the subjects are too young to have initiated delinquent behavior, (2) the questions are less controversial because they are not self-incriminating, or (3) teachers and parents are more able to rate youth on these characteristics than on actual delinquent behavior, which is often covert. Conduct problem behavior subsumes a variety of behaviors: defiance, disrespect, rebelliousness, hitting, stealing, lying, fighting, talking back to persons in authority, etc. Low self control is a disposition to behave impulsively, and aggression involves committing acts of hostility and violating the rights of others.
Risk and protective factors: As noted in the text, the effectiveness of prevention programs is often assessed by examining program effects of a variety of factors which are known to elevate or reduce risk for delinquent involvement at a later date. These factors are discussed above and shown in Figure 1.
Because Congress has asked for a review of scientific literature on crime prevention, studies including evaluations on crime, delinquency, alcohol or other drug use, or other forms of antisocial behavior are highlighted. Studies with demonstrated effects on risk and protective factors related to delinquency are also mentioned. Many substance abuse prevention programs are summarized in the chapter because substance use is one aspect of the adolescent problem behavior syndrome, is itself a form of criminal behavior for adolescents, and is highly correlated with more serious forms of criminal behavior. A distinction between substance use (including alcohol, marijuana, and harder drug use) and all other forms of delinquency is maintained throughout the report. Programs are considered to influence substance use or delinquent behavior if their evaluations demonstrate effects on any measure of each outcome, regardless of its type or seriousness level.
Categories of school-based prevention. Programs included in this chapter are located primarily in school buildings (even if outside of school hours) or are implemented by school staff or under school or school system auspices. Programs targeting all grade levels -- kindergarten, elementary, and secondary -- are included. Excluded from this chapter are school-based programs intended to alter family conditions or practices (these are covered in the family chapter), and school-based attempts to secure the school boundaries from intruders, weapons, and drugs. These are considered in the chapter on place-based strategies.
Figure 5-3 describes four categories of school-based prevention focusing on altering school or classroom environments and Figure 5-4 describes five categories of school-based prevention focusing on changing the behaviors, knowledge, skills, attitudes, or beliefs of individual students. Classifying any particular school-based prevention activity is a difficult task because most school-based prevention programs contain a mix of different types of activities. In the 149 studies examined for this review, most (94%) contained multiple components (i.e., components falling into more than one of the major categories of program activity shown in the figures). About 40% of the studies contained components in four or more different categories. Table 5-2 shows the major types of activities and the percentage of studies whose evaluated programs contained each type of activity. It shows that the school-based programs described in most studies include an instructional component and a component intended to alter classroom management strategies. These common strategies are often combined with attempts to teach students new ways of thinking and dealing with potential social problems. Other fairly common approaches in these studies are behavior modification and attempts to change the normative climate of the school.
The multi-component strategy found in most studies of school-based prevention is perfectly reasonable given the nested nature of the schooling experience and the multiple routes to problem behavior. Student behavior is most directly influenced by the attitudes, beliefs, and characteristics of the student and his or her peers. Individually-targeted interventions such as instructional or behavior modification techniques that teach students new ways of thinking and acting may be effective in changing these individual factors. But several of these individual factors (e.g., low self-control, academic failure experiences, and attitudes favorable to drug use) are likely causes of problem behavior and are best targeted through a set of inter-related program components rather than through a single intervention. Moreover, students interact in the context of classrooms, each of which has its own normative climate encouraging or discouraging certain behaviors. And classrooms exist in school environments which establish larger contexts for all activities in the school. An instructional program teaching students to resolve conflicts non-violently is not likely to be as effective for reducing violence in a school or classroom setting in which fights are regularly ignored as in one which immediately responds to such incidents. The interconnections among different prevention components and the interdependence of different contexts should be considered in the design of prevention programs (Elias, Weissberg, et al., 1994).
Most recent reviews of school-based prevention are organized by developmental level (e.g., elementary, junior high, senior high) rather than by program type. Despite the difficulties inherent in classifying prevention activities, it is nevertheless a useful activity because only by decomposing different sets of activities into their major parts can we (a) describe the activities; (b) describe how the mix of activities varies across location (e.g., urban, suburban, rural) and developmental level; and (c) design evaluations of specific constellations of components. Also, several evaluations of relatively narrow programs are available and can provide information about the potential of each activity as a piece of a larger, more potent, prevention strategy. Ongoing research jointly sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and National Institute of Justice will cross-classify program types by developmental level and school location to provide a more comprehensive picture of which school-based prevention activities are used in which locations for which grade levels.
Figure 5-3: Environmental Change Strategies for School-Based Prevention
Environmental Change Strategies
Building School Capacity: Interventions to change the decision-making processes or authority structures to enhance the general capacity of the school. These interventions often involve teams of staff and (sometimes) parents, students, and community members engaged in planning and carrying out activities to improve the school. They often diagnose school problems, formulate school goals and objectives, design potential solutions, monitor progress, and evaluate the efforts. Activities aimed at enhancing the administrative capability of the school by increasing communication and cooperation among members of the school community are also included.
Setting Norms for Behavior, Rule-Setting: School-wide efforts to redefine norms for behavior and signal appropriate behavior through the use of rules. It includes activities such as newsletters, posters, ceremonies during which students declare their intention to remain drug-free, and displaying symbols of appropriate behavior. Some well-known interventions in this category are "red ribbon week" sponsored through the Department of Education's Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities program and school-wide campaigns against bullying. The category also includes efforts to establish or clarify school rules or discipline codes and mechanisms for the enforcement of school rules.
Managing Classes: Using instructional methods designed to increase student engagement in the learning process and hence increase their academic performance and bonding to the school (e.g., cooperative learning techniques and "experiential learning" strategies); and classroom organization and management strategies. The latter include activities to establish and enforce classroom rules, uses of rewards and punishments, management of time to reduce "down-time," strategies for grouping students within the class, and use of external resources such as parent volunteers, police officers, or professional consultants as instructors or aides.
Regrouping Students: Reorganizing classes or grades to create smaller units, continuing interaction, or different mixes of students, or to provide greater flexibility in instruction. It includes changes to school schedule (e.g., block scheduling, scheduling more periods in the day, changes in the lengths of instructional periods); adoption of schools-within-schools or similar arrangements; tracking into classes by ability, achievement, effort, or conduct; formation of grade level "houses" or "teams;" and decreasing class size. Alternative schools for disruptive youths are also included in this category.
Figure 5-4: Individual-Change Strategies for School-Based Prevention
Strategies to Change Student Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes, Beliefs, or Behaviors
Instructing Students: The most common strategy used in schools. These interventions provide instruction to students to teach them factual information, increase their awareness of social influences to engage in misbehavior, expand their repertoires for recognizing and appropriately responding to risky or potentially harmful situation, increase their appreciation for diversity in society, improve their moral character, etc. Well-known examples include Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), Law-related Education (L.R.E.), and Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.).
Behavior Modification and Teaching Thinking Strategies: Behavior modification strategies focus directly on changing behaviors and involve timely tracking of specific behaviors over time, behavioral goals, and uses feedback or positive or negative reinforcement to change behavior. These strategies rely on reinforcers external to the student to shape student behavior. Larger or more robust effects on behavior might be obtained by teaching students to modify their own behavior using a range of cognitive strategies research has found lacking in delinquent youth. Efforts to teach students "thinking strategies" (known in the scientific literature as cognitive-behavioral strategies) involve modeling or demonstrating behaviors and providing rehearsal and coaching in the display of new skills. Students are taught, for example, to recognize the physiological cues experienced in risky situations. They rehearse this skill and practice stopping rather than acting impulsively in such situations. Students are taught and rehearsed in such skills as suggesting alternative activities when friends propose engaging in a risky activity. And they are taught to use prompts or cues to remember to engage in behavior.
Peer Programs: Peer counseling, peer mediation, and programs involving peer leaders.
Other Counseling and Mentoring: Individual counseling and case management and similar group-based interventions, excluding peer counseling. Counseling is distinguished from mentoring, which is generally provided by a lay person rather than a trained counselor is not necessarily guided by a structured approach.
Providing Recreational, Enrichment, and Leisure Activities: Activities intended to provide constructive and fun alternatives to delinquent behavior. Drop-in recreation centers, after-school and week-end programs, dances, community service activities, and other events are offered in these programs as alternatives to the more dangerous activities. The popular "Midnight Basketball" is included here.
Table 5-2. Percentage Studies Including Each Intervention Strategy
Program Strategy Percentage Studies Including Instructing Students 78 Managing Classrooms 66 Teaching Thinking Strategies 49 Setting Norms for Behavior, Rule-Setting 33 Behavioral Modification 27 Peer Counseling, mediation, and leaders 16 Counseling 14 Providing Recreational, Enrichment, and 10 Leisure Activities 10 Building School Capacity 5 Regrouping Students 3 Mentoring
Search and summary methods used in this chapter are described in more detail in the methods appendix. Briefly, a library search was conducted to locate all published studies of school-based prevention programs. This list was augmented with additional studies cited in recent reviews of prevention programs. In all, 149 studies were located and classified into the program categories described above. Studies of multi-component programs were assigned to the category which best described the program. For categories containing a manageable number of studies, all studies were coded for methodological rigor and effect sizes were computed4 (when possible) for measures of delinquency and substance use. For categories containing more studies than could be coded in the short time available to produce this report, recent high-quality secondary reviews were summarized and two or three of the most rigorous studies were coded using the same procedures as for the smaller categories.
The following paragraphs discusses in more detail three issues specific to this chapter.
Effect sizes. Program effects are expressed whenever possible in this chapter as "effect sizes" (ES), a measure of change due to the treatment as a proportion of the standard deviation for each measure employed. ESs usually range from -1 (indicating that the treatment group performed one standard deviation lower than the comparison group) to +1 (indicating that the treatment group performed one standard deviation higher than the comparison group). Rosenthal and Rubin (1982) show that ESs can be translated for ease of interpretation into the equivalent of percentage differences by simply dividing the ES by 2 and multiplying by 100. The resulting figure represents the relative percentage difference in success (or failure) rates between the experimental and control groups. For example, an ES of .5 might indicate that the success rate for the treatment group is 25 percentage points above that of the comparison group. Lipsey & Wilson (1993), summarizing effect sizes from 156 reviews of 9,400 interventions in the social and behavioral sciences and education, reported an average effect size of .47 (SD=.28) for many different types of programs and many different outcomes. By comparison, Lipsey (1992) showed the average effect size in 397 studies of delinquency treatment and prevention was .17 (SD=.44). Delinquent behavior appears more difficult to change than more conventional behaviors. The practical significance of an effect size depends largely on the seriousness of the outcome for the population. Lipsey argues that even small ESs (e.g., .10) for serious crime have practical significance.
Level of analysis. Most studies of school-based prevention share a methodological shortcoming: Data that should be analyzed at the classroom or school level are instead analyzed at the individual level. School-based prevention programs are usually administered to intact classrooms or schools and these larger units are usually assigned to treatment and control conditions. But most studies, conducted with limited funding, involve relatively small numbers of classes or schools. The largest study reviewed in this chapter involved only 56 schools, and most involve fewer than 10. Investigators usually analyze their data as though individuals were assigned to treatment and comparison conditions. Resulting estimates of the effects of school-based prevention practices are imprecise. Corrections are seldom or never made for the correlated error terms that result when observations are clustered in larger units. Effect sizes are usually underestimated because they use the larger individual-level standard deviation estimates rather than the smaller standard error estimates for classrooms or schools. This shortcoming can be corrected in future studies only with increased funding for studies to allow for larger numbers of schools and classrooms.
Scientific vs. programmatic rigor. The scientific rigor of studies summarized in this chapter was classified using the coding scheme described in the methods appendix. The programmatic rigor of prevention programs is not as easily quantified because the same level of consensus does not exist about the elements of programmatic rigor. We can be reasonably certain, however, that longer-term, multi-component strategies located in natural school settings, using staff readily available to the schools, employing methods that are acceptable to regular school staff are most likely to produce the strongest and most durable effects. A conundrum for school-based prevention research is that such rigorous programs are the most difficult to study using rigorous methods. Long-term interventions are more likely to suffer from attrition problems. In natural setting it is not always possible to randomly assign subjects to treatment and control conditions, thus lowering confidence in the interpretation of any differences observed as due to the effects of the intervention. The most rigorous programs, therefore, are usually not studied with the highest level of scientific rigor.
Studies of School-based Prevention
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) launched a large-scale school-based demonstration project in the early 1980s, funding eighteen different school-based delinquency prevention models in fifteen cities. Program models ran the gamut from alternative schools employing behavior modification for high-risk youths, to counseling classes, to enhancing management processes in schools. Seventeen of the projects were included in the national evaluation of the initiative, also funded by OJJDP. Gottfredson (1987), summarizing the evaluation, concluded that the initiative was successful in demonstrating that some school-based preventive interventions reduce delinquency. Schools in the initiative became significantly safer and less disruptive over the course of the initiative. The initiative as a whole demonstrated that school-based prevention can work, but evaluations of specific program models showed great variability in their effectiveness. Reports on many of the specific program models included in the initiative have made their way into the scientific research literature and will be summarized at appropriate points later in this chapter.
Changing School and Classroom Environments
Correlational evidence suggests that the way schools are run predicts the level of disorder they experience. Schools in which the administration and faculty communicate and work together to plan for change and solve problems have higher teacher morale and less disorder. These schools can presumably absorb change. Schools in which students notice clear school rules and reward structures and unambiguous sanctions also experience less disorder. These schools are likely to signal appropriate behavior for students (Corcoran, 1985; Gottfredson, 1987; Gottfredson & Gottfredson, 1985; Gottfredson, Gottfredson, & Hybl, 1993). Schools in which students feel as though they belong and that people in the school care about them also experience less disorder (Duke, 1989). These schools are probably better at controlling behavior informally. Intervention studies have tested for a causal association between each of these factors and delinquency or substance use among students. Four major strategies for changing school and classroom environments are summarized below: (1) building school capacity to manage itself; (2) setting norms or expectations for behavior and establishing and enforcing school rules, policies, or regulations; (3) changing classroom instructional and management practices to enhance classroom climate or improve educational processes; and (4) grouping students in different ways to achieve smaller, less alienating, or otherwise more suitable micro-climates within the school.
Building School Capacity
Program Development Evaluation (PDE; G. Gottfredson, 1984a; Gottfredson, Rickert, Gottfredson, and Advani, 1984) is a structured organizational development method developed to help organizations plan, initiate, and sustain needed changes. Researchers and practitioners collaborate, using specific steps spelled out in the program materials, to develop and implement programs. A spiral of improvement is created as researchers continuously provide data feedback during the implementation phase to the practitioners and work with them to identify and overcome obstacles to strong program implementation. The method -- first developed for use with schools participating in the OJJDP alternative education initiative -- was intended to solve the problem that evaluations up until that time had found few efficacious delinquency prevention models. The developer assumed that the poor showing was due to weak evaluations, failure to inform program design with research knowledge and social science theory, and weak program implementation.
PDE was used in a comprehensive school improvement intervention -- project PATHE -- that altered the organization and management structures in seven secondary schools between 1981 and 1983 as part of OJJDP's alternative education initiative (D. Gottfredson, 1986; scientific methods score=4). District-level administrators used PDE to develop a general plan for all seven schools, and then used PDE to structure specific school-level planning interventions. These efforts increased staff and student participation in planning for and implementing school improvement efforts. Changes resulting from the planning activity included efforts to increase clarity of rules and consistency of rule enforcement and activities to increase students' success experiences and feelings of belonging. These activities targeted the entire population in each school.
The evaluation of the project compared change on an array of measures from the year prior to the treatment to one year (for four high schools)5 and two years (for five middle schools) into the intervention. One school at each level was a comparison school selected from among the non-participating schools to match the treatment schools as closely as possible. The students in the participating high schools reported significantly less delinquent behavior6 (ES=-.16) and drug use (ES=-.19), had fewer suspensions (ES=-.27), and fewer school punishments (ES=-.18) after the first year of the program. Students in the comparison high school did not change significantly on these outcomes. A similar pattern was observed for the middle schools after two years. As serious delinquency increased significantly in the comparison school, it decreased (nonsignificantly) in the program middle schools (ES=-.27). Changes in drug use (ES=-.13) and school punishments (ES=-.15) also favored the program schools. Suspensions also declined significantly in the program middle schools, but a similar decline was observed in the comparison school. Several indicators of the school climate directly targeted by the program (e.g., safety, staff morale, clarity of school rules, and effectiveness of the school administration) also increased in the program schools, with effect sizes ranging form .16 to .63.
D. Gottfredson (1987; scientific methods score=4) reported the results of a similar effort -- The Effective Schools Project -- in a difficult Baltimore City junior high school. PDE was used with a team of school and district-level educators to plan and implement changes to instructional and discipline practices. School-wide and classroom-level changes were made to the disciplinary procedures to increase the clarity and consistency of rule enforcement, and to substitute positive reinforcement strategies for strategies that relied solely on punishment. Instructional innovations including cooperative learning and frequent monitoring of class work and homework were put in place, an expanded extracurricular activities program was added, and a career exploration program which exposed youth to positive role models in the community, took them on career-related field trips, and provided instruction on career-related topics was undertaken.
The evaluation of the project involved a comparison of pre-treatment measures to post-treatment measures taken two years later for the one treatment school and a second school which was intended to receive the program but instead chose to develop a school improvement plan with minimal assistance from the researchers (and without using the PDE method). Indicators of organizational health (e.g., staff morale, cooperation and collaboration between faculty and administration, and staff involvement in planning and action for school improvement) improved dramatically in the treatment school. Only the Planning & Action scale improved in the comparison school. Significant reductions from pre- to post-treatment on delinquency (see footnote 3, ES=-33) and increases in classroom orderliness (ES=.57) were observed for the treatment school. A reduction in student reports of rebellious behavior in the treatment school was observed (not significant) while a significant increase was observed in the comparison school (ES=-.22).
Kenney & Watson (1996; scientific methods score = 3) report on an intervention to empower students to improve safety in schools. This study, funded by NIJ in 1993, involved 11th grade students (N's range from 372 to 451) in the application of a problem-solving technique to reduce problems of crime, disorder, and fear on the school campus. As part of their government and history class, students implemented a four-step problem-solving method commonly used in problem-oriented policing interventions to identify problems, analyze possible solutions, formulate and implement a strategy, and evaluate the outcomes of the intervention. The investigators anticipated that empowering students to serve as change agents in the school would produce safer schools. Among the problems selected by the students to work on were streamlining lunch-room procedures and monitoring the restrooms. These place-oriented strategies are discussed in Eck's chapter in this volume.
Baseline surveys used by the planning groups to identify school problems were used also as baseline measures for the evaluation of the project. Change over a two-year period was examined for the treatment and one comparison school. The study found that students in the treatment school reported significantly less fighting and less teacher victimization and were less fearful about being in certain places in the school at the end of the two-year period compared with their baseline. Students in the comparison school did not change on these outcomes. A few of the items measuring teacher fear and victimization experiences were significantly lower at the end of the program, but positive effects were more evident in student than on teacher reports. The positive findings for this program on measures of fighting, fear, and victimization experiences are consistent with the Gottfredson et. al. research showing that building school capacity for initiating and sustaining change reduce delinquency and drug use. All three studies were of acceptable methodological rigor, with scientific methods scores of 3 or 4. The size of the effects on delinquency and substance use ranged from small (-.13) to moderate (-.33), with larger effects (up to .57) observed for less serious forms of misbehavior.
Norms for Behavior and Rule-Setting
Research on the correlates of school disorder summarized earlier in this chapter suggests that a constellation of discipline management-related variables -- clarity about behavioral norms, predictability, consistency and fairness in applying consequences for behaviors -- are inversely related to rates of teacher and student victimization in schools. Several studies have attempted to intervene in schools to increase the clarity and consistency of rule enforcement. Others have deliberately involved students in the development and enforcement of the rules in an attempt to increase the perceived validity and fairness of the rules. Still others have attempted to establish or change school norms using campaigns, ceremonies, or similar techniques.
Gottfredson, Gottfredson, & Hybl (1993; scientific methods score=4) tested a discipline management intervention in six urban middle schools. This program (BASIS) included the following components:
Increasing clarity of school rules and consistency of rule enforcement through revisions to the school rules and a computerized behavior tracking system;
Improving classroom organization and management through teacher training;
Increasing the frequency of communication with the home regarding student behavior through systems to identify good student behavior and a computerized system to generate letters to the home regarding both positive and negative behavior; and
Replacing punitive disciplinary strategies with positive reinforcement of appropriate behavior through a variety of school- and classroom-level positive reinforcement strategies.
School teams of administrators, teachers, and other school personnel were responsible for implementing the program. When all six participating schools were compared with the two non-randomly selected comparison schools, significant changes in the expected direction were observed from the beginning to the end of the program on the measures most directly targeted: classroom orderliness, classroom organization, classroom rule clarity, and fairness of school rules. Student reports of rebellious behavior, a scale measuring minor delinquent acts, increased significantly over the three year time frame for students in both treatment and comparison schools, and slightly more so in treatment schools (ES=.27) than in the comparison schools (ES=.19). This increase was probably due to the county-wide aging of the middle school student population which resulted when the implementation of higher grade-to-grade promotion standards resulted in a huge increase in grade retentions. Implementation data showed that the components of the program were implemented with high fidelity to the original design in only three of the six program schools. In these three schools, teachers reports of student attention to academic work increased significantly (ES=.09) and their ratings of student classroom disruption decreased significantly (ES=-.12). The increase in rebellious behavior was smallest (ES=.11) in the these schools, although the difference between these "high implementation" treatment schools and the control schools was small (difference in ES=.08).
In another three-year discipline management study implemented in nine schools, Mayer, Butterworth, Nafpaktitus, & Sulzer-Azaroff (1983; scientific methods score=5) demonstrated positive effects for a program that trained teams of school personnel to use behavioral strategies for reducing student vandalism and disruption. Each team also met regularly to plan and implement programs on a school-wide basis that would teach students alternative behavior to vandalism and disruption. These included lunch-room and playground management programs and classroom management programs that stressed the use of specific positive reinforcement. Graduate student consultants worked with each teacher about twice per week and conducted about two team meetings per month during the school year. The study showed that rates of student off-task behavior decreased significantly and vandalism costs plummeted in the project schools. These results replicated results from an earlier pilot study (Mayer & Butterworth, 1978; scientific methods score=4). Note that the school team approach used in this study resembles that used in the PDE method described above.
An impressive program of research on an intervention designed to limit conflict in schools undertaken in Norway (Olweus, 1991, 1992; Olweus & Alsaker, 1991; scientific methods score=3) suggests that school-wide efforts to redefine norms for behavior reduce delinquency. Olweus noted that certain adolescents -- "bullies" -- repeatedly victimized other adolescents. This harassment was usually ignored by adults who failed to actively intervene and thus provided tacit acceptance of the bullying. A program was devised to alter environmental norms regarding bullying. A campaign directed communication to redefining the behavior as wrong. A booklet was directed to school personnel, defining the problem and spelling out ways to counteract it. Parents were sent a booklet of advice. A video illustrating the problem was made available. Surveys to collect information and register the level of the problem were fielded. Information was fed back to personnel in 42 schools in Bergen, Norway. Among the recommended strategies to reduce bullying were: establishing clear class rules against bullying; contingent responses (praise and sanctions); regular class meetings to clarify norms against bullying; improved supervision of the playground; and teacher involvement in the development of a positive school climate.
The program was evaluated using data from approximately 2,500 students (aged 11 to 14) belonging to 112 classes in 42 primary and secondary schools in Bergen. The results indicated that bullying decreased by 50 percent (exact ESs can not be computed from the information provided in the published reports, but they appear to range from approximately -.10 to -.50 for different grade levels, genders, and measures of bullying). Program effects were also observed on self-reports of delinquent behavior -- including truancy, vandalism, theft. These effects on delinquency were smaller in magnitude (ESs below -.2 except for one of the 10 comparisons whose ES was approximately -.42).
Encouragement to adopt norms against drug use during adolescence has also been identified as an essential element of drug abuse prevention (Institute of Medicine [IOM], 1994). Curricula that promote norms against drug use often include portrayals of drug use as socially unacceptable, identification of short-term negative consequences of drug use, provision of evidence that drug use is less prevalent among peers than children may think, encouragement for children to make public commitments to remain drug-free, and the use of peer leaders to teach the curriculum (IOM, 1994, page 264). These activities are present in 29% of drug prevention curricula (Hansen, 1992), but always in conjunction with other components such as conveying information about risks related to drug use and resistance skills training. Norm-setting and public pledges to remain drug-free are usually elements of the most effective drug education curricula, but meta-analyses have not been able to disentangle the effects of the various components. In a study designed to do just that, Hansen & Graham (1991; scientific methods score=4) found that positive effects on marijuana use and alcohol use were attributable more to a normative education than to a resistance skills training component.
In summary, programs aimed at setting norms or expectations for behavior, either by establishing and enforcing rules or by communicating and reinforcing norms in other ways (e.g., campaigns), have been demonstrated in several studies of reasonable methodological rigor to reduce alcohol and marijuana use and to reduce delinquency. Note, however, that studies in which school rules were manipulated also used school teams to plan and implement the programs, so it is not possible to separate the specific effects of the school rule and discipline strategies from the more general effects of encouraging teams of school personnel to solve their schools' problems.
Effective Instructional Practices Summarized in Brewer et al. (1995)
Smaller kindergarten and first grade classrooms
Within-class and between-grade ability grouping in elementary grades
Nongraded elementary schools
Behavioral techniques for classroom management
Continuous progress instruction (e.g., instruction in which students advance through a defined hierarchy of skills after being tested for mastery at each level usually with teachers providing instruction to groups of students at the same instructional level)
Most of students' time in school is spent in classrooms. How these micro-environments are organized and managed may influence not only the amount of disorderly behavior that occurs in the class but also important precursors of delinquency and drug use, including academic performance, attachment and commitment to school, and association with delinquent peers.
Classroom organization and management strategies are found in most school-based prevention studies. They are usually incorporated into both the school-wide interventions summarized above and (less often) into the instructional interventions described later. For example, cooperative learning strategies were used in Project PATHE (Gottfredson, 1986), the Effective Schools Project (Gottfredson, 1987), and Project STATUS (Gottfredson, 1990), all of which demonstrated reductions in delinquent behavior. Classroom management techniques were used in Project BASIS (Gottfredson, Gottfredson, & Hybl, 1993). In all of these projects, the classroom instruction and management strategies were elements of broader, school-wide organization development or discipline management projects (or in the case of STATUS, a law-related education curricular intervention), thus making it impossible to isolate the effects of the classroom strategies. Classroom management innovations constitute the major intervention in the studies summarized in this section.
The literature on effective instructional processes is vast. Most of this literature assesses effectiveness on academic outcomes rather than on behavioral outcomes. Brewer et al. (1995) summarize existing meta-analyses of instructional strategies and conclude that the strategies shown in the box on the preceeding page increase academic performance, which is related to delinquency and drug use. These instructional strategies should be considered promising elements of prevention efforts at the classroom level, although their effects on delinquency and substance use have not been demonstrated.
Table 5-3 summarizes evidence from two long-term interventions intended to test the efficacy of upgrading classroom instructional and management methods on subsequent substance use and delinquent behavior. The Seattle Social Development Project (Hawkins et al., 1988; 1991; 1992; O'Donnell et al, 1995) used cooperative learning strategies, proactive classroom management, and interactive teaching. Proactive classroom management consisted of establishing expectations for classroom behavior, using methods of maintaining classroom order that minimize interruptions to instruction, and giving frequent specific contingent praise and encouragement for student progress and effort. Interactive teaching involved several instructional practices generally accepted as effective (e.g., frequent assessment, clear objectives, checking for understanding, and remediation). Cooperative learning used small heterogeneous learning groups to reinforce and practice what the teacher taught. Recognition and team rewards were provided to the teams, contingent on demonstrated improvement. Parent training in family management practices was also provided. This program was implemented with support from OJJDP continually from first through sixth grades in several elementary schools beginning in 1981. In addition, the classroom management strategies were implemented without the parent training in a one-year study of seventh graders (Hawkins, Doueck, & Lishner, 1988). Several of the project reports are summarized in Table 5-3. The evaluations demonstrated consistent significant positive effects on attachment and commitment to school, and the absence of such effects on belief in moral order and attitudes about substance use. For the long-term project including parent training, measures of alcohol and marijuana use generally favored the treatment students, but were marginally significant and sometimes significant only for girls. Measures of aggressive behavior favored the treatment group in second grade, but only for males. By fifth grade, measures of school misbehavior and minor delinquency initiation showed no significant effects for the full sample. By sixth grade, a lower delinquency initiation was observed for the treatment group, but only for low income males participating in the program. For low-achieving seventh graders who received the classroom portion of the program with no parent training, no significant effects were observed on measures of delinquency and drug use, although the treatment group had significantly fewer suspensions from school. Table 5-3. Studies of Classroom Management
Author Scientific Effect size for measure Effects on risk and protective factors (year) methods of problem behavior score/ Number of cases Hawkins, Von Cleve, & 3 Aggressive behavior Internalizing problem behaviors, anxiety, Catalano (1991) (teacher reports) social withdrawal [NS] N=458 boys & [favors treatment, [results for second girls significant for males graders after two years only, ES=-.34 for of program] males] Externalizing problem behavior (teacher reports) [favors treatment, significant for males only, ES=-.29 for males Hawkins, Catalano, 2 Alcohol use Attachment to school, Commitment to school, Morrison, O'Donnell, [favors treatment, Attachment to family, Family management Abbott, & Day (1992) N= 853 boys almost significant ( [significantly favors treatment] & girls p<.1), ES=-.12] [results for fifth Achievement test scores [significantly favors graders after four Minor delinquency control] years of program] initiation [NS; ES=-.11] Belief in moral order, Attitudes favoring substance use [NS] School misbehavior [NS] O'Donnell, Hawkins, 2 Alcohol use Attachment to school [significantly favors Catalano, Abbott, & Day [favors treatment for treatment. p<.05 for girls, p<.10 for boys] (1995) N= 49 boys girls only; almost and 57 girls significant (p<.1) for Commitment to school [significantly favors [results for sixth (analyzed girls only, ES=-.40 for treatment for boys and girls] graders after six years separately girls] of program] by gender) Grades [favors treatment, significant for Marijuana use boys only] [favors treatment for girls only; almost Achievement test scores [favors treatment, significant (p<.1) for significant for boys only] girls only, ES=-.34 for girls] Belief in moral order [NS] Minor delinquency Attitudes favoring substance use [NS] initiation [favors treatment, almost significant (p<.1) for boys only, ES= -.54 for boys] Hawkins, Doueck, & 3 Self-reported Achievement test scores [NS] Lishner (1988) delinquency [NS; ES's N=160 range from .04 to .14 School attachment [of 6 items, 2 [results for seventh low-achieving favoring control] significantly favor treatment group] graders after one year boys and of program] girls Drug use [NS; ES=-.11 Commitment to school [significantly favors favoring treatment] treatment ] Times suspended [significantly favors treatment, ES=-.37] Battistich, Schaps, 3 Alcohol use NA Watson, & Solomon [significantly favors (1996) N=1479 - treatment, ES=-.12] 1745, [fifth and sixth depending on Marijuana use [NS] graders assessed after the year each year of a two-year Delinquency [10 items, program] NS] Solomon, Watson, 3 Negative behaviors Supportive and friendly behaviors Delucchi, Shaps, & observed in classrooms [significantly favors treatment] Battistich (1988) N=67 [NS] class-rooms Spontaneous pro-social behavior [Kindergarten through [significantly favors treatment] fourth grade classrooms assessed after each year of a five-year program]
A second major classroom intervention (CDP, the Child Development Project) was conducted with several cohorts of elementary school students in 12 elementary schools for 2 consecutive years beginning in 1992 (Battistich et al, 1996). It included the following components:
"Cooperative learning" activities intended to encourage student discussion, comparison of ideas, and mutual challenging of ideas on academic and social topics;
A "values-rich" literature-based reading and language arts program intended to foster understanding of diversity;
"Developmental discipline," a positive approach to classroom management that stresses teaching appropriate behavior rather than punishment, involving students in classroom management, and helping them to learn behavior management and conflict resolution skills;
"Community-building" activities aimed at increasing appreciation for diversity or students' sense of communal involvement and responsibility; and
"Home-school" activities to foster parent involvement in their children's education.
A similar program was conducted in three elementary schools for 5 consecutive years beginning in 1982 (Solomon et al, 1988). The evidence from evaluations of these efforts is also summarized in Table 5-3. The program increased pro-social behaviors but did not decrease negative behavior among students in grades K though 4. It had no effect on delinquency or marijuana use, but alcohol use among the treatment youths in grades 5 and 6 was significantly lower than among the control students (Battistich et al, 1996; ES=-.12). In this study, supplementary analyses which take into account varying levels of implementation across schools showed that marijuana use and two of the ten delinquency items were significantly lower among treatment youths in the schools with the highest level of implementation, but these results are ambiguous because the high implementation schools also have strikingly higher levels of marijuana use and delinquency at all time-points. Regression to the mean is not ruled out as an alternative explanation for the observed pattern of results.
In all but one study, classroom management strategies were combined with family-based strategies, making it impossible to determine the unique effects of the classroom intervention. Program effects were not as positive in the one study that used only the classroom strategies. Both the CDP and Seattle projects found evidence of positive effects on substance use initiation, but the effects were sometimes only marginally significant and were not as consistent across different substances and gender groups as would be expected. Also, although these strategies appear effective for increasing positive behaviors and a number of protective factors, little promise for reducing delinquency is demonstrated. Classroom organization and management strategies should be combined with other more potent components and tested more rigorously.
Four studies have examined interventions which group students to create more supportive or challenging environments for high-risk youths. Felner, Ginter & Primavera (1982) and Felner & Adan (1988) studied the School Transitional Environment Project (STEP), a one-year program for students making the transition to high school. Incoming students were assigned to small "schools within the school" consisting of 65 to 100 students. Students remained in intact small groups for their home room period and their academic subjects, and these classrooms were physically close together. The role of the home room teacher was redefined so as to include more responsibility for meeting the administrative, counseling, and guidance needs of the students. Reyes & Jason (1991) implemented a similar program which also contained an attendance monitoring component. D. Gottfredson (1990) studied another school-within-a-school intervention -- Student Training Through Urban Strategies (STATUS), one of the programs in OJJDP's alternative education initiative. This program grouped high-risk youths to receive an integrated social studies and English program which involved a law-related education curriculum and used instructional methods emphasizing active student participation. Students stayed together for two hours each day. These studies are summarized in Table 5-4.
STEP increased protective factors (school attendance, persistence, and achievement) in the Felner studies, but its replication in Reyes & Jason was largely a failure. STATUS reduced delinquency and drug use (ESs range from -.07 to -.42) and changed in the desired direction several risk and protective factors related to delinquency. STATUS involved innovative teaching methods (many of which are reviewed in the classroom management section above), a law-related education curriculum, and the innovative school-within-a-school scheduling. It is not possible to disentangle the effects of these components. However, the major intermediate outcome through which the law-related education curriculum was expected to reduce delinquency -- belief in the validity of laws -- was the only outcome that did not favor the treatment group. We have seen above that classroom management strategies alone or in combination with family interventions do not reduce delinquency. It is unlikely, therefore, that the positive effects found in the STATUS program were due solely to the instructional and classroom management methods or to the law-related education curriculum. The study suggests that the combination of innovative grouping and scheduling with the other two components is promising.
Table 5-4. Summary of Studies using Reorganization of Grades or Classes
Author Scientific Effect size for Effects on risk and protective factors (year) methods measure of problem score/ behavior Number of cases Felner, Ginter & 4 NA School dropout during three years following Primavera (1982); the program -- 43% of controls vs. 21% of Felner & Adan (1988) N=172 treatment dropped out (significant students difference) [results for ninth graders directly Absenteeism and grade-point-average -- following a one-year significantly favors treatment at end of one program, with follow-up year of treatment and at end of year one and three years following treatment following program] Gottfredson (1990) 4 Delinquency -- favors Negative peer influence, grades, and treatment group in both attachment to school -- significantly favor [results at end of N=123 junior schools, significant treatment group in both schools one-year program in one high and 124 for high school only junior and one senior senior high [ES's -.33 and -.42] School attendance -- favors treatment high school] students students in both schools, NS Drug Involvement -- significantly favors Number of months enrolled in school -- treatment group in both significantly favors treatment students, high schools [ES's -.42 and school only -.35] Belief in rules -- favors control students, Court contacts -- both schools, NS favors treatment group in both schools, NS Educational expectations -- favors treatment [ES's -.07 and -.18] students in high school, control students in junior high, NS. Reyes & Jason (1991) 4 NA Achievement test scores -- one of three tests significantly favors treatment [results for ninth N= 154 graders at end of Grade point average, absences, and dropout -- one-year program] At the end of one year of treatment, NS
In summary, programs which group high-risk students to create smaller, more tightly-knit units for instruction show promise for reducing delinquency, drug use and drop-out. These programs are risky in light of other research that shows negative effects of grouping high-risk youths for peer counseling or other therapeutic services (to be reviewed shortly), but the studies summarized in this section suggest that it may be beneficial to group high-risk for instruction in the context of "schools-within-schools" which offer a strong academic program, use effective instruction and classroom management strategies, and supportive staff.
A note on alternative schools. Alternative schools for disruptive youths are often proposed as a solution to the problem of disorder in schools. OJJDP's alternative education initiative sponsored five such schools, all small schools for students who had not flourished in the regular school setting. After reviewing the content of these programs, G. Gottfredson (1987) concluded that they are far too variable in nature, student composition, structure, and purpose to warrant any blanket statement about their effectiveness. He reviews two of the five models -- one based on a theory that intense personal involvement of the educators with the youth would reduce delinquency through increased bonding, and the other based on the theory that rigorous discipline and behavior modification techniques would result in decreased delinquency. The evaluation of the first program found remarkable improvements in several risk factors for delinquency, including commitment to school, attachment to school, and belief in rules. It also found significantly less self-reported drug use (but not self-reported delinquency or arrest records) among alternative school students than among controls. The evaluation of the second alternative school implied that the program was effective for increasing several measures of academic persistence, but that students liked school less and reported significantly more delinquent behavior than the comparison students. The varied models employed in alternative schools suggest that the question, "are alternative schools effective?" is too simplistic. The components of the interventions involved in alternative schools must be disentangled in future evaluations.
Strategies that aim to alter students' delinquent behavior or their knowledge, skills, beliefs, behaviors or attitudes directly related to delinquent behavior are summarized below. These strategies include instruction with specific content related to delinquency or drug use; methods aimed at changing thinking strategies (cognitive or cognitive-behavioral training); behavior modification; peer counseling, mediation, and leaders; other counseling; mentoring; and "alternatives" programs which provide opportunities for recreation, enrichment or leisure.
The most common school-based prevention strategy is instruction. Most schools provide instruction aimed at reducing drug use or delinquency, often in the form of the programs like Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), Law-related Education (L.R.E.), and Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.), which enjoy substantial federal subsidy. The content of interventions that provide instruction to students is varied. The box at the right shows some of the topics covered in instructional programs.
Topics Covered in Instructional Programs General health or safety;
Alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs: information about and consequences of use;
Recognizing and resisting social influences to engage in misbehavior and risky situations, being assertive;
Identifying problem situations, generating alternative solutions, evaluating consequences;
Setting personal goals, self-monitoring, self-reinforcement, self-punishment;
Attributing the cause of events or circumstances to ones own behavior;
Interpreting and processing social cues, understanding non-verbal communication, negotiating, managing anger, controlling stress, anticipating the perspectives or reactions of others.
The following pages summarize what is known about the effectiveness of drug education, broader social competency development curricula, violence prevention curricula, and law-related education. The first two of these curriculum types have been studied extensively and several excellent secondary reviews are available. These secondary reviews will be summarized and only the most rigorous studies will be singled out for discussion. Instructional programs funded by OJP (D.A.R.E. and Law-related education) and a gang prevention program recently evaluated with N.I.J. funding (G.R.E.A.T.) will also be summarized here.
Alcohol and other drug education. Several meta-analyses and reviews of the effectiveness of school-based drug prevention instruction have been conducted (Botvin, 1990; Botvin et al, 1995; Dryfoos, 1990; Durlak, 1995; Hansen, 1992; Hawkins, Arthur, & Catalano, 1995; Institute of Medicine, 1994; Tobler, 1986, 1992). Botvin (1990) traces the historical development of these programs. He shows that "information dissemination" approaches which teach primarily about drugs and their effects, "fear arousal" approaches that emphasize the risks associated with tobacco, alcohol, or drug use, "moral appeal" approaches which teach students about the evils of use, and "affective education" programs which focus on building self-esteem, responsible decision-making, and interpersonal growth are largely ineffective for reducing substance use. On the contrary, approaches which include resistance-skills training to teach students about social influences to engage in substance use and specific skills for effectively resisting these pressures alone or in combination with broader-based life-skills training do reduce substance use. The box to the right shows the typical content of these instructional programs. Curricula which focus on general life-skills are typically longer than those which focus only on social resistance skills.
Typical Content of Social Influence and Life-Skills InstructionComponents
of Social Resistance Skills Instruction:
Increasing student awareness of the social influences promoting substance use
Teaching skills for resisting social influences from peers and the media
Correcting normative expectations concerning the use of substances
Additional Skills Targeted in Life-Skills Instruction:
Problem-solving and decision-making
Self-control or self-esteem
Adaptive coping strategies for relieving stress or anxiety
This section summarizes substance abuse curricula having an emphasis on social competency skill development. Two such school-based instructional prevention programs which have been scrutinized using rigorous methods are ALERT (Ellickson & Bell, 1990, Ellickson, Bell, & McGuigan, 1993) and Life Skills Training (L.S.T., Botvin & Eng, 1982; Botvin, Baker, Botvin et al, 1984; Botvin, Baker, Renick et al, 1984; Botvin, Batson et al, 1989). ALERT is essentially a social resistance-skill curriculum consisting of eight lessons taught a week apart in the seventh grade, followed by three eighth grade "booster" lessons. L.S.T. is a more comprehensive program focusing on resistance skills training as well as the general life skills mentioned above. This program consists of 16-sessions delivered to seventh grade students followed by eight session "boosters" in grades eight and nine. This section ends with a discussion of D.A.R.E., an OJP-funded substance abuse prevention program whose content is not as focused on social competency development as the other programs summarized.
The ALERT study (scientific methods score=5) was a multi-site experiment involving the entire seventh grade cohort of 30 junior high schools drawn from eight urban, suburban, and rural communities in California and Oregon. These 30 schools were randomly assigned to treatment and control conditions. Results are reported using individuals as the unit of analysis, although the investigators reported that results from school-level analyses supported the same conclusions with more positive results. Program effects were assessed directly after the seventh grade programs as well as before and directly after the eighth grade booster. Students were followed up again when they were in 9th, 10th, and 12th grades. The program had positive effects for both low- and high-risk students and was equally effective in schools with high and low minority enrollment. The program's most consistent effects were found for marijuana use. It reduced the use of marijuana among students at each risk level, with the strongest effects for the lowest risk group: those students who had not initiated either cigarette or marijuana use at the time of the baseline measurement. In this group, 8.3% of the ALERT students compared with 12.1% of the control students (ES=-.08) had initiated marijuana use by the end of the eighth grade booster. Small but statistically significant positive effects on the amount of marijuana used were observed for the other risk groups directly after the seventh grade sessions, but these effects were no longer statistically significant (and were not practically meaningful) by the end of the booster session. For all groups, small positive program effects were initially observed for alcohol use, but they too eroded by grade 8. The follow-up studies showed that once the lessons stop, so did the program's effects on drug use. Although some effects on cognitive risk factors persisted through grade 10, they were not sufficient to produce reductions in drug or alcohol use.
L.S.T. has also undergone rigorous test in an ongoing series of studies first published in 1980, conducted by Botvin and his colleagues. The more recent studies examined the effect of the program on alcohol and marijuana use (in addition to cigarette use) and tracked long-term program effects. Botvin, Baker, Renick, Filazzola & Botvin (1984; scientific methods score=3) examined the effectiveness of a 20-session course delivered to 7th graders from 10 suburban New York junior high schools. The subjects were primarily white, from middle-class families. Schools were randomly assigned to receive the program as implemented by older students, by regular classroom teachers, or to serve as controls. All analyses were reported using individuals as the unit of analysis. Results measured immediately after the program showed that program students compared with control students were significantly less likely to report using marijuana (ES=-.10) and engage in excessive drinking, but these positive effects were found only for the peer-led condition. Botvin, Baker, Filazzola & Botvin (1990; scientific methods score=4) reported on the one-year follow-up of this study. This study contrasts not only the teacher- and peer-led conditions, but also the presence or absence of a 10-session booster course delivered during eighth grade. As with the ALERT study, the results showed that the effects of the program diminished without the booster. In the peer-led condition with the booster session, significant effects were maintained at the end of the eighth grade on the amount of alcohol used and marijuana use (ESs ranged from .04 for used in last day to .16 for used in last month). Again, positive effects were found only for the peer-led condition.
In a larger study involving 56 public schools, the same 20-session 7th grade program, 10-session booster session in eighth grade, and an additional 5-session booster in the ninth grade was studied for long term effects on substance use at 12th grade (Botvin, Baker, Dusenbury, Botvin, & Diaz, 1995; scientific methods score=5). In this study, the 56 schools (serving mainly white, middle-class populations) were stratified according to baseline levels of cigarette smoking and geographic location and randomly assigned to experimental conditions. All results were reported using individual students as the level of analysis. This study involved only teacher-led classrooms. The 12th grade results for the full sample of 3,597 subjects revealed significant positive effects on the prevalence of drunkenness (ESs range from -.08 to -.10), but not for other measures of alcohol use. Significant effects were not reported for marijuana use, although the effect size for the prevalence of weekly marijuana use is as large (-.09) as the effects sizes for the significant effects on excessive drinking. The lower base rate for marijuana use reduces the likelihood of finding statistically significant results for this outcome. When only subjects who received a reasonably complete version of the program were examined, the results were more positive. Additional research (Botvin, Batson, Witts-Vitale, Bess, Baker, & Dusenbury, 1989; Botvin, Dusenbury, James-Ortiz, & Kerner, 1989) showed that the positive effects generalize to African American and Hispanic American populations.
D.A.R.E., developed in 1983 by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Unified School District, is the most frequently used substance abuse education curriculum in the United States. According to D.A.R.E. America (Law Enforcement News, 1996), the program is now used by seventy percent of the nation's school districts and will reach 25 million students in 1996. About 25,000 police officers are trained to teach D.A.R.E. It is also popular in other countries, forty-four of which have D.A.R.E. programs. The complete array of D.A.R.E. activities currently on the market includes "visitation" lessons in which police officers visit students in kindergarten through fourth grade for brief lessons on topics such as obeying laws, personal safety, and the helpful and harmful uses of medicines and drugs; a 17-week core curriculum for fifth or sixth graders (to be described shortly); a 10-week junior high school program focusing on resisting peer pressure, making choices, managing feelings of anger and aggression, and resolving conflicts; and a 10-week senior high program (co-taught with the teacher) on making choices and managing anger. In addition, D.A.R.E. offers an after-school program for middle-school-aged students, called D.A.R.E. + PLUS (Play and Learn Under Supervision). This provides a variety of fun activities for students during the after-school hours. Programs for parents and special education populations are also available.
The core 17-lesson curriculum delivered to students in grades 5 or 6 has always been the most frequently used form of the program. The great majority (81%) of school districts with D.A.R.E. implement the core curriculum, while 33% use the visitations, 22% the junior high, 6% the senior high, and 5% the parent curriculum (Ringwalt et al, 1994). The core curriculum is the only part of the program that had undergone rigorous outcome evaluation.
The core D.A.R.E. program is taught by a uniformed law enforcement officer. The original 17-lesson core curriculum focuses on teaching pupils the skills needed to recognize and resist social pressures to use drugs. It also contains lessons about drugs and their consequences, decision-making skills, self-esteem, and alternatives to drugs. Teaching techniques include lectures, group discussions, question and answer sessions, audiovisual materials, workbook exercises, and role-playing. The curriculum was revised in 1993 to substitute a lesson on conflict resolution and anger management skills for one on building support systems.
Several evaluations of the original 17-lesson core have been conducted.7 Many of these are summarized in a meta-analysis of D.A.R.E.'s short-term effects (Ringwalt et al, 1994), sponsored by NIJ. This study located 18 evaluations of D.A.R.E.'s core curriculum, of which 8 met the methodological criterion standards for inclusion in the study. The study found:
Four more recent reports, three of them longitudinal, have also failed to find positive effects for D.A.R.E. Lindstrom (1996), in a reasonably rigorous study (scientific methods score= 3) of approximately 1,800 students in Sweden, found no significant differences on measures of delinquency, substance use, or attitudes favoring substance use between students who did and did not receive the D.A.R.E. program. Sigler & Talley (1995) (scientific methods score= 2) found no difference in the substance use of seventh grade students in Los Alamos, New Mexico who had and had not received the D.A.R.E. program 11 months before. Rosenbaum, Flewelling, Bailey, Ringwalt, & Wilkinson (1994; scientific methods score= 4) report on a study in which twelve pairs of schools (involving nearly 1,600 students) were randomly assigned to receive or not receive D.A.R.E. Although some positive effects of the program were observed immediately following the program, by the next school year no statistically significant differences between the D.A.R.E. and non-D.A.R.E. students were evident on measures of the use of cigarettes or alcohol. Also, only one of thirteen intervening variables targeted by the program showed a positive effect. Clayton, Cattarello, and Johnstone (1996; scientific methods score= 4) reported on long-term effects for D.A.R.E. Thirty-one schools were randomly assigned to receive or not receive D.A.R.E. All students in the sixth grades in these schools were pre-tested prior to the program, post-tested shortly after the program, and resurveyed each subsequent year through the 10th grade. Although positive effects were observed during the seventh grade on some risk factors for substance use, no significant differences were observed between the D.A.R.E. and control schools on measures of cigarette, alcohol, or marijuana use either during seventh grade or at any later point. These studies and recent media reports have criticized D.A.R.E. for (a) focusing too little on social competency skill development and too much on affective outcomes and drug knowledge; (b) relying on lecture and discussion format rather than more interactive teaching methods; and (c) using uniformed police officers who are relatively inexperienced teachers and may have less rapport with the students.
To the untrained eye, the content and methods used in D.A.R.E. are not strikingly different from those used in the more effective programs such as Life Skills Training (summarized above) and Social Problem Solving (summarized below). But more subtle differences exist: L.S.T. and S.P.S. provide broader and deeper coverage of and more practice for students in the development of social competency skills. For example, while all three programs contain lessons on identifying social influences to use drugs and problem-solving, the non-D.A.R.E. programs provide more lessons on these topics and also include lessons on communication skills or emotional perspective taking. Weissberg's S.P.S. program is able to address self-control skills in greater depth because it completely omits lessons on self-esteem and factual information about drugs. The instructional methods are also different: L.S.T. and S.P.S. were carefully designed to make use of cognitive-behavioral methods including frequent role-playing, rehearsal of skills, and behavioral modeling. These methods are main features of the programs. D.A.R.E., even with the addition of more "interactive" techniques, lacks a major emphasis on the use of these carefully developed, research-based teaching techniques.
Although the content and method differences described above probably account for some of the discrepancy between the effects found for the different types of instructional programs, the largest difference among the programs is D.A.R.E.'s use of uniformed officers to deliver the program, a feature that remains in the revised D.A.R.E. and whose effects on the efficacy of the program are unknown.
D.A.R.E. proponents challenge the results of the scientific D.A.R.E. evaluations. Officials of D.A.R.E. America are often quoted as saying that the ample public support for the program is a better indicator of its utility than scientific studies. They criticize D.A.R.E. studies for (a) looking only at the original D.A.R.E. model; (b) focusing on the absence of effects on alcohol and drug use among fifth and sixth graders when the base rates are so low that effects would naturally be difficult to detect; and (c) failing to study the longer term effects of D.A.R.E. which are expected to be more substantial. Each of these points is addressed below.
In 1993, D.A.R.E. added more coverage of social competency skills and more interactive teaching techniques to its core curriculum (Ringwalt et al, 1994). These changes were expected to bring the program more in line with the competition. No outcome evaluation of this revised curriculum has been reported, but it appears unlikely that the revision will change the results much because the largest difference between the earlier and revised program is the substitution of a single lesson on reducing violence for one on building support systems. Ringwalt et al. (1994) show that even in the revised core curriculum for D.A.R.E., only 9 of the 17 lessons cover social skill development.
D.A.R.E. is indeed atypical in its focus on elementary school-aged youths. As Hansen (1992) demonstrated, the percentage of fifth graders estimated to have used tobacco, alcohol or marijuana in the past month ranges between about 1 and 8 percent nationally. While lifetime use estimates (the outcome measure often used in D.A.R.E. evaluations) are certainly higher, the relatively low prevalence rates mean that larger samples may be required in studies of D.A.R.E. than in studies of programs targeting slightly older students. But D.A.R.E. evaluations can not be summarily dismissed on the basis of these criticisms because some have involved samples whose base rates for substance use are much higher than the national average and others have involved samples with sufficient power to detect meaningful differences even in low-base-rate populations. For example, the Rosenbaum et al. (1994) study involved nearly 1,600 students in a sample whose base rate for lifetime alcohol use was 55%. Half of the studies summarized in the Ringwalt et al. (1994) study had sample sizes larger than 1,000, and none could be described as small-sample research. Also, the Ringwalt et al. (1994) meta-analysisrelied not only on statistical significance tests, which are misleading when the number of cases is not sufficiently large to detect the expected effect, but also on effect sizes to assess the magnitude of the effects regardless of statistical significance. Inferences based on effect sizes are not as prone to misinterpretation as those based on significance levels.
D.A.R.E. proponents also argue that D.A.R.E.'s effects are delayed -- i.e., that effects appear when students reach higher grades. The three recent longer-term evaluations of D.A.R.E. (Clayton, Cattarello, & Johnstone, 1996; Sigler & Talley, 1995; Rosenbaum, Flewelling, Bailey, Ringwalt, & Wilkinson, 1994; summarized above) do not support this contention. The absence of long-term effects is not surprising given the more general finding that effects for instructional substance use prevention programs decay rather than increase over time in the absence of continued instruction.
In summary, using the criteria adopted for this report, D.A.R.E. does not work to reduce substance use. The programs's content, teaching methods, and use of uniformed police officers rather than teachers might each explain its weak evaluations. No scientific evidence suggests that the D.A.R.E. core curriculum, as originally designed or revised in 1993, will reduce substance use in the absence of continued instruction more focused on social competency development. Any consideration of the D.A.R.E.'s potential as a drug prevention strategy should place D.A.R.E. in the context of instructional strategies in general. No instructional program is likely to have a dramatic effect on substance use. Estimates of the effect sizes of even the strongest of these programs are typically in the mid- to high-teens. D.A.R.E.'s meager effects place it at the bottom of the distribution of effect sizes, but none of the effects are large enough to justify their use as the centerpiece of a drug prevention strategy. Rather, such programs should be embedded within more comprehensive programs using the additional strategies identified elsewhere in this chapter.
Broader social competency development curricula. Other curricula focus specifically on social competency development, without an emphasis on substance abuse prevention per se. Weissberg's social competence promotion program, for example, covers the entire array of social competency skills without tying them directly to any specific problem behavior. Problem-specific modules aimed at preventing anti-social and aggressive behavior, substance use, and high-risk sexual behavior are available. The program ranges in length from 16- to 29-sessions, depending on the version.
Caplan, Weissberg, Grober, Sivo, Grady, & Jacoby (1992; scientific methods score=4) studied the effect of a 20-session version of Weissberg's social competence promotion program aimed at stress management, self-esteem, problem-solving, substances and health information, assertiveness and social networks on 282 sixth and seventh graders in an inner-city and a suburban middle school in Connecticut. Classrooms were randomly assigned to receive the program or not. Results were reported using individuals as the unit of analysis. Students in program classes improved relative to students in the control classrooms on measures of problem-solving ability and stress management. Teacher ratings of the participating students improved relative to the controls on measures of conflict resolution with peers and impulse control, both important protective factors for later delinquency, and popularity. Students' self-reports of their behavioral conduct were not affected by the program, and effects on self-reports of intentions to drink alcohol and use drugs were mixed. No significant difference was found for a self-report measure of frequency of cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana use, but program students reported significantly less excessive drinking than controls (ESs range from .26 to .32). The program was as effective for students in the inner-city and the suburban schools. The sample size in this study was likely too small to detect as statistically significant any small differences between the treatment and comparison students.
In another study involving 447 students from 20 classes in four urban, multi-ethnic schools, Weissberg & Caplan (1994; scientific methods score=4) evaluated a similar 16-session social competence promotion program for students in grades five through eight. This version of the program did not include lessons on substance use. It focused on teaching students:
impulse-control and stress-management skills,
thinking skills for identifying problem situations and associated feelings,
establishing positive pro-social goals,
generating alternative solutions to social problems, anticipating the likely consequences of different actions, choosing the best course of action, and successfully enacting the solution.
Random assignment to treatment and control conditions was not accomplished in this study. Program students improved more than controls on problem-solving abilities and pro-social attitudes towards conflict resolution. Teacher ratings indicated that the training improved impulse control, problem-solving, and academic motivation and decreased teasing of peers, important risk and protective factors for later delinquency. Self-reported delinquency of a relatively minor form (stealing, starting fights, vandalism, skipping school, etc.) also increased less for the program participants (2.8% increase) than for comparison students (36.8% increase) between the beginning and the end of the program. No significant effects were observed for self-reports of substance abuse in this study. Weissberg & Greenberg (in press) summarize another study which shows that the positive effects of the program are maintained in the year after the program only when the training is continued into the second year
Greenberg, Kusche, Cook & Quamma (1995; scientific methods score = 4) report on the PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies) curriculum on emotional competence for elementary school-aged children. This project used a 60-lesson version of the curriculum composed of units on self-control, emotions, and problem-solving. Lessons were sequenced according to increasing developmental difficulty and included didactic instruction, role-playing, class discussion, modeling by teachers and peers, social and self-reinforcement, and worksheets. Extensive generalization techniques were included to assist teachers in applying skills to other aspects of the school day. Specifically, the curriculum included:
A Feelings and Relationships Unit -- 35 lessons on emotional and interpersonal understanding. The lessons cover approximately 35 different affective states and were taught in a developmental hierarchy beginning with basic emotions (e.g., happy, sad, angry) and proceeding to more complex emotional states (e.g., jealous, guilty, proud).
Self-control and initial problem-solving -- The development of self-control, affective awareness and communication, and beginning problem-solving skills were integrated during the Feelings Unit with the introduction of the Control Signals Poster (CSP), which had a red light to signal "Stop - Calm Down," a yellow light for "Go Slow - Think," a green light to signal "Go - Try My Plan," and at the bottom, the words "Evaluate - How Did My Plan Work?" In a series of lessons, the children were taught skills to use with the different signals of the poster. For purposes of generalization, a copy of the CSP was placed in the classroom and teachers were coached on how to use this model for active problem-solving during the classroom day.
Interpersonal Cognitive Problem-Solving -- 20 to 30 lessons sequentially covering eleven problem-solving steps, similar to those discussed above as part of Weissberg's program above.
Generalization procedures -- A variety of generalization techniques were included throughout the curriculum to foster transfer of the skills and ideas taught.
The intervention teachers attended a 3-day training workshop and received weekly consultation and observation from project staff. The PATHS lessons were taught approximately
3 times per week, with each lesson lasting 20-30 minutes. The weekly consultations were intended to enhance the quality of implementation through modeling, coaching, and providing ongoing feedback regarding program delivery.
The social competency promotion intervention was field-tested in Washington state using random assignment of schools serving "regular education" students to treatment and control conditions as well as random assignment of classrooms of "special needs" children (in different school than the regular education students) to treatment and control conditions. In all, 286 students participated in the study. Students were in the first and second grades at the time of the pre-test, and in the 2nd and 3rd grades at the time of the first post-test, which occurred approximately one month after the end of the intervention. Two additional follow-up assessments were conducted to examine maintenance of effects one and two years after the intervention.
Immediate positive effects of the program were observed for both regular and special education students on measures of the specific social competency skills targeted. Greenberg (1996) reports on the longer-term effects of the program. At the final follow-up, significant differences favoring the regular education treatment students emerged on teacher ratings of externalizing behaviors, a measure of serious conduct problems highly related to later delinquent behavior. Intervention students in both groups also self-reported significantly lower rates of conduct problems at the later follow-up points.
Violence-prevention instruction. Brewer, Hawkins, Catalano, & Neckerman (1995) provide a comprehensive summary of conflict resolution and violence prevention curricula. These instructional programs are designed to improve students' social, problem-solving, and anger management skills, promote beliefs favorable to nonviolence, and increase knowledge about conflict and violence. Brewer et al. (1995) summarize evaluations of eight violence prevention curricula. Target populations for these programs range from pre-K through grade 10. The quality of the evaluations of these programs is uniformly poor. No study used random assignment of subjects to treatment and comparison conditions. Only four of the studies assessed program effects on aggressive or violent behavior, and two of these studies suffered from serious methodological flaws. The other two studies reported positive results on measures of aggressive behavior, but no corresponding positive changes on attitudes towards violence.
Perhaps the most rigorous evaluation is for the Washington (DC) Community Violence Prevention Program (Gainer, Webster, & Champion, 1993; scientific methods score=3), a 15-session curriculum focusing on social information processing deficits and belief systems associated with aggressive behavior, modeled after the Viewpoints program that had received positive evaluations in a correctional institutional setting (Guerra & Slaby, 1990). The program was evaluated with 5th and 7th graders in three inner-city schools. Students receiving the course were compared with students from the same schools and grade levels during the following year. Program effects on violent behavior were not assessed, and effects on social problem solving skills and attitudes about violence were mixed. Some measures showed significantly positive effects, some significantly negative effects, and some no difference.
Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) was developed in 1991 by the Phoenix Police Department to reduce adolescent involvement in criminal behavior and gangs. Although not specifically designed as a violence prevention program, its emphasis on gang membership, a major correlate of violent crime, justifies its inclusion here. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Forearms has funded officer training for this program, and as of July, 1996, more than 2,000 officers from 47 states and the District of Columbia had completed training. In 1994, NIJ began funding an evaluation of G.R.E.A.T.. It currently supports a three-year study to assess the short- and long-term effects of the program on students in six sites. A less rigorous preliminary assessment of effects one-year following the program in 11 cities was also recently completed with NIJ funding. Results from this preliminary study are summarized below.
G.R.E.A.T. is a brief (9-week) instructional program taught to middle school students by trained, uniformed law enforcement officers. The program teaches students about the impact of crime on its victims and the community; cultural differences; conflict resolution skills; how to meet basic needs without joining a gang; and responsibility to the school and neighborhood. The program ends with a lesson in which students are taught the importance of goal-setting. The G.R.E.A.T. program differs from instructional programs known to be effective for reducing drug use or delinquency by being (a) less intensive; (b) almost entirely devoid of content and methods focusing on teaching students social competency skills; and (c) lacking follow-up sessions. It is taught by uniformed law enforcement officers -- a feature whose costs and benefits as a crime prevention strategy are unknown.
The preliminary evaluation of the program (Esbensen & Osgood, 1996) compared the survey responses of approximately 2,600 eighth grade students who said they had completed G.R.E.A.T. with those of approximately 3,200 eighth students who said they had not. The investigators attempted to shore up the weak evaluation design (post-test only for non-equivalent treatment and comparison groups) by statistically controlling for differences between schools and demographic characteristics of participants and non-participants, but the scientific methods score of the study remains only a 2 on our 5-point-scale. The study found several statistically reliable differences favoring the G.R.E.A.T. participants, including less delinquency (ES=-.07) and drug use (ES=-.04). Nineteen of the thirty-one outcomes examined significantly favored the G.R.E.A.T. participants, and none significantly favored the non-participants. The investigators cautioned that the magnitudes of the effects were very small and the design of this preliminary study is too weak to warrant confident conclusions about the effects of the program. The effect sizes for the significant delinquency and drug use outcomes are all less than .10 (e.g., the difference between the participants and non-participants on outcome measures is less than one-tenth of one standard deviation), suggesting that even if the effects could be safely attributed to the program they are small. Such small differences between groups are often detected as statistically significant in large studies. For this reason, the effect size is a more meaningful indicator of program effects.
Law-related education (L.R.E.). Schools have implemented law-related education curricula for nearly three decades. These curricula are designed to familiarize youths with the country's laws, develop appreciation of the legal process, encourage responsible political participation, develop moral and ethical values, and develop analytical skills. Lack of knowledge about the law, citizenship skills, and positive attitudes about the law and the role of the government are cited in L.R.E. materials as causes of juvenile crime.
In 1979, the justice department's National Institute for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (NIJJDP, OJJDP's research arm) funded five organizations to develop and demonstrate L.R.E. methods. An evaluation of these efforts, also funded by NIJJDP, examined the effects of the program on delinquency and factors related to delinquency. Most of the results of this evaluation are summarized in Johnson & Hunter (1985). The evaluation included 61 L.R.E. elementary, junior, and senior high classrooms and 44 comparison classrooms in 32 schools in 6 states. The results for 1981, the first year of the evaluation, were regarded as formative. It showed that L.R.E. did not always produce positive effects, and that the quality of implementation was correlated with the amount of positive change from pre- to post-test on many measures. Results for the second year of the evaluation (1982) were more positive, but the effects were, according to the authors, "severely diminished" except in one site in Colorado site in which generally positive outcomes were observed. The strongest program implementation occurred in 1983. Johnson & Hunter (1985) summarize the results comparing outcomes, separately by teacher, for students in 21 L.R.E. classes and 14 comparison classes (most of which were non-randomly assigned). Out of 132 effects reported for the 11 delinquency items, 15 showed a significant effect (13 would have been expected by chance using the one-tailed test of significance reported). Nine of these differences favored the L.R.E. students, and six favored the comparison students. Significant program effects on attitudes towards deviance and violence favored the comparison students. Many positive effects were found for outcomes measuring knowledge about the law and legal practices and other outcomes that might be expected from improved classroom management techniques (such as reduced "clock watching").
Johnson (1984) focused on the nine L.R.E. classes in the site for which randomization to treatment and control conditions was obtained. He showed that the nine L.R.E. classes fared significantly better than the two control classes on more than half of the forty-one possible measures. Three of the eleven items measuring delinquency were reported as significantly favoring the L.R.E. group. The effect sizes for all eleven items ranged from 0 (for violence against other students) to .66 (for school rule infractions such as cheating on tests and skipping school). The average effects size for the eleven delinquency items was .22.
In summary, these evaluation activities from the early 1980s showed clear program effects on law-related factual knowledge. Effects on other outcomes were minimal. In one particularly strong site, consistent positive effects were observed on certain risk factors for delinquency (e.g. attachment to school and attitudes towards violence and deviance), but not others (e.g., association with delinquent peers) and small positive effects were found on certain measures of delinquency but not others.
This extensive national evaluation produced no bottom line. The part of the evaluation focusing on the entire national sample was the weakest methodologically (scientific methods score= 3) and showed no reason for optimism about L.R.E.'s effect on delinquency. The "sub-study" of Colorado sites was stronger methodologically, and more positive outcomes were observed. What is not clear, however, is the extent to which results for these "well-implemented" schools can be generalized to other schools implementing L.R.E. programs. Because the L.R.E. intervention at this site included a large dose of general instructional and classroom management training for teachers in addition to law-related activities it is not possible to rule out the possibility that any positive effects of the program are due to these general techniques rather than to the law-related content of the curriculum. Because L.R.E. programs are not necessarily augmented with these additional strategies, it is not clear that the positive evaluations are relevant to understanding the effects of typical L.R.E. programs.8
Law-related education curricula, like other forms of instruction, will probably not reduce delinquency significantly when used in isolation. The L.R.E. program evaluators found that when the program is embedded in a more comprehensive program of improved classroom organization and management processes, the outcomes are better. Gottfredson (1990) also found that when an L.R.E. curriculum was enriched with state-of-the-art classroom instructional and organization methods and implemented in the context of a school-within-a-school model, it reduced delinquency. More work is now required to isolate the working parts of these multi-component programs involving L.R.E..
Statements found in materials published by the organizations that continue to develop and disseminate L.R.E. using OJJDP funding -- "Research indicates that properly implemented law-related education changes attitudes and reduces crime" (National Institute for Citizenship Education in the Law, 1988) -- are at best misleading because they ignore the results obtained for most of the sites in the national study. More rigorous evaluation is needed.
Summary. Certain instructional programs to reduce drug use have produced consistent evidence of positive effects on substance use in rigorous studies, and others have consistently shown no effects. "Information dissemination" instructional programs which teach primarily about drugs and their effects, "fear arousal" approaches that emphasize the risks associated with tobacco, alcohol, or drug use, "moral appeal" approaches which teach students about the evils of use, and "affective education" programs which focus on building self-esteem, responsible decision-making, and interpersonal growth are largely ineffective for reducing substance use. D.A.R.E. as it is most commonly implemented is largely ineffective for reducing substance use. Approaches which include resistance-skills training to teach students about social influences to engage in substance use and specific skills for effectively resisting these pressures alone or in combination with broader-based life-skills training do reduce substance use. But the effects of even these programs are small and short-lived in the absence of continued instruction. Hansen and O'Malley (1996) report average effect sizes for social influence training programs such as ALERT ranging from .14 to .27 (on alcohol, marijuana, and cigarette use), but Gorman (1995) shows these programs have little or no effect on drinking behavior. More comprehensive programs such as L.S.T. and Weissberg's Social-Problem Solving have effect sizes ranging from .08 to .37.
More comprehensive social competency promotion programs work better than programs which do not focus on social competencies and those that focus more narrowly on resistance skill training. Also, the more extensive the reliance on cognitive-behavioral training methods such as feedback, reinforcement, and behavioral rehearsal (as in the Greenberg and Weissberg programs) rather than traditional lecture and discussion, the more effective the program. The Weissberg and Greenberg works are also important because they demonstrate that social competency promotion programs works for reducing delinquency or early conduct disorder leading to delinquency as well as drug use.
Some violence prevention programs teach interpersonal skills and behaviors such as communicating, making eye-contact, cooperating, and sharing. Others use the same cognitive-behavioral strategies used in the most effective social competency promotion programs summarized above. These programs seem plausible, but until they are rigorously evaluated they should be used with caution. Just as the first-generation substance abuse prevention programs were found to increase rather than decrease drug use (Botvin, 1990), so might these early violence prevention efforts increase violence. Although described by some as "promising," the G.R.E.A.T. program does not meet the criteria necessary to earn this descriptor in our review. Until the outcome of the more rigorous evaluation now underway is complete, the effects of the program remain unknown.
The effects of law-related education curricula as typically implemented also remain unknown. Evaluations have supported their effectiveness when implemented as part of a more comprehensive program, but it is not clear to what extent the law-related curriculum contributes to the effectiveness, if at all. Rigorous research is needed.
Modifying Behavior and Teaching Thinking Skills
Behavior modification interventions focus directly on changing behaviors by rewarding desired behavior and punishing undesired behavior. Several well-known programs for delinquent youths (e.g., Achievement Place) rely on these methods, as do many educational programs -- especially those serving special education populations. Many programs for delinquent and "at-risk" populations also attempt to alter thinking skills. These "cognitive-behavioral training" interventions are based on a substantial body of research indicating that delinquents are deficient in a number of thinking skills necessary for social adaptation. Delinquents often do not think before they act, believe that what happens to them is due to fate or chance rather than to their own actions, misinterpret social cues, fail to consider alternative solutions to problems, and lack interpersonal skills necessary for effective communication. Programs often combine behavioral and cognitive methods in an attempt to alter immediate behavior and promote the generalization of behavior change to other settings.
As indicated above, instructional programs that teach social competency skills and rely on cognitive-behavioral methods such as feedback, reinforcement, and behavioral rehearsal are the most effective for reducing substance use in general populations. Meta-analyses (Garrett, 1985; Izzo & Ross, 1990; Lipsey, 1992) have also concluded that the most effective delinquency prevention and treatment programs incorporate strategies aimed at developing social skills and using cognitive-behavioral strategies. Forman (1980; scientific methods score=4) showed that both cognitive training and behavioral interventions decrease aggressive behavior in elementary school children, although the behavioral intervention decreased disruptive behavior to a somewhat greater extent.
The programs reviewed below incorporate many of the same principles found in the more effective instructional programs. These programs differ in that they are often targeted at students identified as at especially high-risk for engaging in delinquent activities, are delivered in small groups or individually, and provide more intensive intervention than is possible with classroom-based instructional programs. Only three of the many high-quality studies of interventions using behavioral and cognitive-behavioral methods are reviewed here.
Elements of Lochman's Anger-Coping Intervention Establishing group rules
and contingent reinforcements;
Using self-statements to inhibit impulsive behavior;
Identifying problems and social perspective-taking;
Generating alternative solutions and considering the consequences to social problems;
Modeling videotapes of children becoming aware of physiological arousal when angry, using self-statements, and using a set of problem-solving skills to solve social problems;
Having the boys plan and make their own videotape of inhibitory self-statements and social problems solving;
Dialoging, discussion, and role-playing to implement social problem solving skills with children's current anger arousal problems.
Lochman's work with highly
aggressive boys is reported in a series of research articles beginning in the mid-80's. Lochman's anger-coping intervention is based on research that shows that aggressive children tend to attribute hostility to other people's intentions and to mis-perceive their own aggressiveness and responsibility for conflict. In addition to targeting specific cognitive skills (shown in the box), the intervention uses behavioral techniques (operant conditioning) to reward compliance with group rules. The program is targeted at boys in grades four through six who are identified as aggressive and disruptive by their teachers. A school counselor and a mental health professional from a Community Guidance Clinic co-lead groups of aggressive boys for 12 - 18 group sessions, each 45 minutes to an hour. Importantly, this cognitive training is augmented with teacher consultation in which the mental health professional running the children's group assists the childrens' regular teachers in classroom management in general and in helping the targeted youths generalize new skills to the regular classroom.
The effectiveness of this "anger coping" intervention was investigated in a series of studies which systematically varied features of the program to learn more about its essential elements. In one study (Lochman, Burch, Curry, & Lampron, 1984; scientific methods score=4), 76 boys from eight elementary schools ranging in age from 9 to 12 were studied. They were not randomly assigned to experimental conditions, but pre-treatment measures showed the groups to be equivalent on the outcomes measures of interest. In comparison to aggressive boys receiving no treatment or minimal treatment, aggressive treatment group boys reduced their disruptive-aggressive off-task behavior in school (ES=-.55) and their aggressive behavior as rated by their parents (ES=-.61) directly after the intervention. A three-year follow-up study was conducted when these and some boys from other earlier studies were 15-years old (Lochman, 1992; scientific methods score=4). The study found that the intervention had a significant effect on self-reported alcohol and substance abuse (ES=-.38) but no significant effect on self-reported criminal behavior (ES=-.11). It can be argued that a reduction in delinquency of this magnitude (approximately equivalent to a 5 percentage point difference in crime rate between the treatment and control group) in a highly delinquent population is practically meaningful even if it is not statistically significant. Also, the treatment group in this follow-up study was significantly younger than the comparison group, which worked against finding program effects as younger age was associated with higher rates of delinquency.
Rotheram also demonstrated the efficacy of cognitive behavioral training in a primary prevention program for upper elementary school youths. In one study (Rotheram, 1982; scientific methods score=4) eight 4th through 6th grade classes were randomly assigned to participate in a social skills training intervention or to serve as control classes. Students in each class were randomly assigned to small training groups led by graduate and undergraduate students. A drama situation game was conducted in each group for a one-hour session twice a week for twelve weeks. Each "game" involved teaching a specific assertiveness concept to help children think, act, or feel assertive; presentation of specific problem situations; group problem solving in which the students generated alternative solutions to the problem and evaluated the solutions; and behavioral rehearsal and feedback. Although all students in the treatment classes were included in the intervention, only the 101 subjects identified (prior to the intervention) as being disruptive, under-achieving or exceptionally high in terms of comportment and achievement were included in the evaluation. Students in the social skills training condition generated significantly more assertive and significantly fewer passive and aggressive problem-solving responses than did the control group directly after treatment, and had larger increases in their grade-point-averages over pre-treatment one year after the treatment. Teacher ratings of comportment also improved significantly more from pre-treatment to immediately following the treatment (ES=.42) as well as one year after the treatment (ES=.40).
Interventions relying solely on behavior modification strategies have also been successful. Brewer et al. (1995) summarize two highly effective programs that monitored school attendance and provided contingent rewards for good attendance. Both studies used rigorous evaluation methods and produced positive outcomes on attendance. These results are important because truancy is an important risk factor for delinquency.
Bry's work also used behavioral monitoring and reinforcement with high risk youths. Students were randomly assigned to the treatment and control conditions in this study. Students' tardiness, class preparedness, class performance, classroom behavior, school attendance, and disciplinary referrals were monitored weekly for two years. Students met with program staff weekly and earned points contingent on their behavior which could be used for a class trip of the students' choosing. Frequent parent notification was used. Experimental students had significantly better grades and attendance at the end of the program than did controls, but the positive effects did not appear until the students had been in the program for two years (Bry & George, 1979; scientific methods score=5; Bry & George, 1980; scientific methods score=4). Bry (1982; scientific methods score=4) reports that in the year after the intervention ended, experimental students displayed significantly fewer problem behaviors at school than did controls and in the 18 months following the intervention, experimental students reported significantly less substance abuse (ES=-.44) and criminal behavior (ES=-.30). Five years after the program ended, experimental youth were 66% less likely to have a juvenile record than were controls (ES=-.50)
These rigorous studies of targeted behavior modification and cognitive skill-training demonstrate clear positive effects on drug use and aggressive, anti-social behavior. Effect sizes are among the highest observed for any school-based strategy. Only Bry's work demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in actual criminal behavior (other than drug use), but the direction and size of the effect in the Lochman work provide additional support for a positive effect on criminal activity.
Peer Counseling, Peer Mediation, and Peer Leaders
Peer group counseling is popular in schools and is often used in prevention programs for at-risk youths and adjudicated delinquents. This type of counseling usually involves an adult leader guiding group discussions in which participants are encouraged to recognize problems with their own behavior, attitudes, and values. Peer pressure to adopt pro-social attitudes is expected to occur. G. Gottfredson (1987) reviewed these approaches to delinquency prevention and evaluated a large-scale school-based program which was one of several programs included in OJJDP's alternative education initiative in the 1980s. This study (scientific methods score=3, involving random assignment of subjects to experimental conditions) "lends no support to any claim of benefit of treatment, with the possible exception that the treatment may enhance internal control for elementary school students. For the high school students, the effects appear preponderantly harmful." (G. Gottfredson, 1987, p 708). Specifically, high school treatment youths reported significantly more delinquent behavior, more tardiness to school, less attachment to their parents, and more "waywardness," a scale measuring a constellation of anti-social attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors including rebelliousness, lack of attachment to school, low beliefs in rules, delinquency, and association with delinquent peers. The effect sizes for these differences were small (less than .05). Presumably, these interventions backfire when students are brought into closer association with negative peers during the peer counseling sessions. Gottfredson also notes that frequent discussions of parent/home issues in the groups may have led to a weakening of parental bonding and a subsequent increase in delinquency.
Peer mediation programs rose in popularity in the 1980s. These programs use students to assist in dispute resolution when conflicts arise among students. Trained peer mediators assist in developing alternative solutions to fighting and provide an alternative to traditional interventions by a school administrator (e.g., warnings, suspensions, or demerits). Lam (1989, cited in Brewer et al, 1995) reviewed 14 evaluations of peer mediation programs. The methodological rigor of all but three of the programs was too weak to justify any conclusions about the effect of the programs. According to Brewer, none of the three studies in the Lam review employing quasi-experimental designs showed significant effects on observable student behavior (e.g., fighting, disciplinary referrals). One additional study of peer mediation published after Lam's review (Tolson, McDonald, and Moriarty, 1992; scientific methods score=3) suggested that students assigned to receive peer mediation have fewer interpersonal conflicts in the 2.5 months following the program, but the study was small and the outcome measure (referrals to the office for interpersonal conflict) was weak.
Students have also been used as peer leaders in substance use prevention programs. The rationale for this approach is that anti-drug messages will be more credible when delivered by a peer than an adult. Although some studies (e.g., Botvin, Baker, Renick, Fillazzola & Botvin, 1984; Perry, Grant, et al, 1989) have found that substance abuse prevention programs focusing on skill development are more effective when led by peers than by teachers, other studies (e.g., Ellickson & Bell, 1990) find no such advantage for peer-led programs. Tobler's (1992) meta-analysis also found no evidence that programs with peer leaders produce better outcomes than programs of similar content led by adults.
The overall patterns of results for programs involving peers in the delivery of services is not promising. Peer mediation programs are not promising, although they have not been sufficiently evaluated. These programs are likely to be ineffective interventions when implemented as stand-alone programs rather than as part of broader attempts to improve disciplinary practices. Peer counseling interventions for high-risk youths are contraindicated, and studies using peer leaders to lead substance abuse prevention programs have produced mixed results.
Counseling and Mentoring
Many studies have examined the effect of counseling interventions on delinquency. Lipsey's (1992) meta-analysis of juvenile delinquency treatment effects shows that, for juvenile justice and non-juvenile justice interventions alike, counseling interventions are among the least effective for reducing delinquency. Twenty-four studies of individual counseling in non-juvenile justice settings yielded an effect size of -.01 on measures of recidivism.
A popular form of school-based counseling is the Student Assistance Program (SAP). These programs are among the most common programs found in schools, accounting for approximately half of the expenditures of Drug-free Schools and Communities funds (Hansen & O'Malley, 1996, citing GAO, 1993) administered through the U.S. Department of Education. These programs involve group counseling for students with alcoholic parents, counseling for students who are using drugs or alcohol or whose poor academic performance place them at risk for substance abuse, and work with parent and community groups to develop ways of dealing with substance abuse problems. Often the peers of student clients are involved as crisis managers, group facilitators, and referral agents. SAP counselor's are school-based but employed by mental health departments or other outside agencies. After surveying the scant literature on the effectiveness of SAP programs, Hansen & O'Malley (1996) concluded that evaluations are "universally absent." These programs must be evaluated if federal funding for them is to be continued.
Gottfredson (1986; scientific methods score=5), in a study sponsored as part of OJJDP's alternative education initiative, examined effects on delinquent behavior of a program of services provided to high risk secondary school students. Students' behavioral and academic problems were diagnosed, and individual plans were developed by school specialists (either teachers or counselors assigned to work individually with the high risk students for this project). Counseling and tutoring services were provided consistent with the individual plans, and the specialists also acted as advocates for the students, worked with the students' parents, and tried to involve the students in extracurricular activities to increase bonding to the school. On average, school specialists met twice per month directly with the target students and the students also participated in peer counseling and "rap" sessions with other students. Random assignment of 869 eligible high-risk youths to treatment and control conditions yielded equivalent groups. After two year of treatment, the targeted youths were significantly better off than the control students on several measures of academic achievement and educational persistence. Students were promoted to the next grade at a higher rate after the first year in the program (ES=.15), drop-out rates were significantly lower for students in some of the schools (ES=.09 overall), graduation rates were higher (ES=.68), and the percentage of students scoring in the bottom quartile of a standardized achievement tests scores was lower (ES=-.19). However, the services did not result in a reduction in delinquency. Gottfredson (1986) examined six indicators of delinquent behavior, including self-reports, school records, and police records. For only one of the measures were significant differences observed. Treatment students reported significantly more drug use (ES=.23). In all, two measures showed no difference, two favored the treatment group (ES's=-.08 and -.14) and two favored the control students (ES's=.02 and .23). The study suggests that even relatively small doses of tutoring lead to improvements in academic outcomes. It is probable that the poor showing on the delinquency measures was due to the counseling intervention which brought high-risk youths together to discuss (and therefore make more salient to others) their poor behavior.
Mentoring -- one-on-one interaction with an older, more experienced person to provide advice or assistance -- is an increasingly popular delinquency prevention strategy. OJJDP has invested $19 million in juvenile mentoring programs, as mandated by Congress. Our review uncovered four studies of school-based mentoring (See Table 5-5). Chapter 2 reviews additional studies of community-based mentoring. The results of the studies can be summarized as follows: (1) The methodological rigor of the studies is generally poor. Only one study received a scientific methods score of three or more, and this study did not assess the programs' effect on crime outcomes. (2) School-based mentoring programs appear promising for increasing school attendance. (3) The effectiveness of school-based mentoring for reducing delinquency and drug use is not known. See Chapter 2 for a summary of one rigorous study of a particularly well-implemented community-based mentoring program which found positive effects on substance use, bearing in mind that the results from that study may not generalize to mentoring programs run in or by schools.
In summary, counseling interventions for high-risk youths are contraindicated, and school-based mentoring programs appear promising for reducing nonattendance but have not been studied with sufficient rigor to justify confident conclusions about its effectiveness for reducing delinquency or substance use.Table 5-5. Summary of Mentoring Studies
Author Scientific Effect size for Effects on risk and protective factors (year) methods measure of problem score/ behavior Number of cases Higgins (1978) 2 Offenses, weighted by School persistence -- NS severity -- not [results for high N=106 significantly different School performance -- significantly better school students [ES=.25 males; .23 for mentored, males only) returning from females, favoring correctional mentored group] institution after approximately one year of program] McPartland & Nettles 3.5 NA Absences -- significantly fewer absences (1991) [ES=-.18] N=334 [results for middle (approx.) English grades -- significantly better school students [ES=.14] directly after two years of program] GPA and grade promotion -- NS Slicker & Palmer (1993) 2 NA Drop-out and GPA-- NS [results for 10th grade N=64 "at-risk" students directly after six months of program] LoSciuto, Rajala, 2 Frequency of substance Days absent -- significantly fewer for Townsend, & Taylor use in past 2 months -- mentoring group (1996) N=562 almost significantly lower (p=.056) among [results for sixth mentored students graders directly after [ES=-.22] one school year of program]
Recreational, Enrichment, and Leisure Activities
Some programs offer recreational, enrichment or leisure activities as a delinquency prevention strategy. These programs historically have been based on one of the following assumptions: (1) "idle hands are the devil's workshop;" (2) children -- especially those who do not fit the academic mold -- will suffer from low self-esteem if they are not able to display their other competencies; or (3) students need to vent their energy. With the rise in violent crime, the typical rationale for alternative activities programs is that occupying youth's time will keep them out of harm's way -- the "safe haven" theory. Drop-in recreation centers, after-school and week-end programs, dances, community service activities, and other events are offered as alternatives to the more dangerous activities. After-school programs have enjoyed a recent boost in popularity in light of evidence that 22% of violent juvenile crime occurs between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on school days (Snyder, Sickmund, & Poe-Yamagata, 1996). This is more than would be expected if juvenile crime were uniformly distributed across the waking hours.
Relevant research on alternative activities is found both in basic research on the causes and correlates of delinquency and in evaluations of prevention programs involving these activities. Basic research has examined the plausibility of the "idle hands is the devil's workshop" rationale for explaining delinquency and found it lacking. Several studies have found that time spent in leisure activities is unrelated to the commission of delinquent acts (Gottfredson, 1984b; Hirschi, 1969). Time spent on activities which reflect an underlying commitment to conventional pursuits (e.g., hours spent on homework) is related to the commission of fewer delinquent acts, while time spent on activities which reflect a (premature) orientation to adult activities (e.g., time spent riding around in cars) is related to the commission of more delinquent acts. But the myriad activities of adolescents that have no apparent connection to these poles (e.g., clubs, volunteer and service activities, youth organizations, sports, hobbies, television, etc.) are unrelated to the commission of delinquent acts. Simply spending time in a these activities is unlikely to reduce delinquency unless they provide direct supervision when it would otherwise be lacking.
Alternative activities programs have been found to not prevent or reduce alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use in several reviews of the effectiveness of drug prevention (Botvin, 1990; Hansen, 1992; Schaps, Bartolo, Moskowitz, Palley, and Churgin, 1981; Schinke, Botvin, and Orliandi, 1991). More recent evidence of the impotence of alternative activities programs comes from the National Structured Evaluation (NSE; Stoil, Hill, and Brounstein, 1994), a major study of the effectiveness of prevention activities initiated in 1991 by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), which examined hundreds of different program models in operation during or after 1986. The NSE found that alternative activities alone do not reduce alcohol and other drug use, alcohol and other drug -related knowledge and attitudes, or other risk and protective factors related to alcohol and other drug use. However, when these drug-free activities appeared as secondary components in programs primarily aimed at psycho-social skill development, they were effective for reducing alcohol and other drug use and related risk and protective factors. Note that the reviews and the NSE summarize evidence related to broadly-defined alternative activities programs operating in both school and community contexts. They do not tell us whether the null
Table 5-6. Summary of Recreation, Enrichment, and Leisure Activities Studies
Author Scientific Effect size for Effects on risk and protective factors (year) methods measure of problem score/ behavior Number of cases Thompson & Jason (1988) 2 NA Gang membership -- favors experimental, p=.06; [ES=-.16] [results for eighth N=117 grade students at-risk for gang membership directly after one school year of program] Ross, Saavedra, Shur, 4 NA Achievement test scores -- no significant Winters, & Felner difference overall (1992) N=667 Risk-taking -- significantly favors control [results for low-income group elementary school children directly after Impulsiveness -- significantly favors control 144 days of program] group Cronin (1996) 4 Rebellious Behavior -- Grade-point average, Attachment to school, NS Commitment to school, Belief, Attitudes [results for at-risk N=508 favoring drug use, Attendance -- NS sixth grade students Drug Use in Last Year directly after one -- significantly favors school year of program] control group (ES=.47) Drug Use in Last Month -- NS
findings apply equally to programs in these different settings. Few evaluations of the effect of these recreation, leisure, and enrichment activities on delinquency other than substance use are available. They are summarized in Table 5-6. These studies all combine an emphasis on alternative activities with other components such as instruction in skills related to the alternative activity. One program (Ross et al, 1992) involved instruction and supervised homework and self-esteem building exercises in a school-based after-school program. The study did not assess program effects on actual delinquent behavior due to the young age of the children, but it did measure low self-control, a potent risk factor for later delinquency. The Thompson and Jason (1988) study reported on a gang prevention program involving instruction plus an after school program involving a sports clinic, social and recreational activities, job-skills and educational assistance. Cronin (1996) reported on a community service program which also involved reflection/discussion sessions for "processing" the service experience. As Table 5-6 shows, the results are unfavorable to alternative programs, except for one study which shows a marginally significant (p=.06; ES=-.16) positive effect on a risk factor for delinquent behavior, gang membership. The other studies suggest that these alternative activities programs may actually increase the risk for delinquent behavior.
These studies of alternative activities do not specifically address the crime prevention potential of recreational strategies such as "midnight basketball" which are designed to keep the most crime-prone segment of the population off the streets during peak crime hours (i.e., to provide a "playground for ... idle hands") and to enhance positive youth development through mandatory attendance at workshops covering topics such as job development, drug and alcohol use, safe sex, GED preparation and college preparation, and conflict resolution. These programs have received media attention and public support in recent years. Midnight Basketball was praised in 1991 by President George Bush as one of his "thousand points of light." The "Crime Bill" signed into law by President Clinton in 1994 featured alternative activities prominently among its various crime prevention strategies. Early versions of the bill included a line item for Midnight Basketball, and although the line item was eventually eliminated when it became the symbol of pork-barrel spending among conservatives in and out of Congress , alternative activities strategies still figure prominently among its prevention strategies. Midnight Basketball is mentioned explicitly as one of the preferred Local Crime Prevention Block Grant Program strategies, along with other supervised sports and recreation programs; non-school recreation strategies are included in the Ounce of Prevention Grant Program; supervised sports and extracurricular programs including arts and crafts and dancing during non-school hours are included in the Community Schools Youth Services and Supervision Grant Program; and park and recreation programs in high risk areas are called for in the Urban Recreation and At-Risk Youth Grants to local governments (Youth Today, Nov/Dec, 1994).
Midnight basketball programs are not likely to reduce crime. The evidence from meta-analyses of drug prevention programs suggests no behavioral effect of such programs, and the few studies that have examined effects on delinquency or anti-social behavior suggest no effect. The only compelling argument for continuing to consider this approach is that they may be able to provide adult supervision when it would otherwise be lacking. But research (Ross et al, 1992, summarized in Table 5-6) indicates that programs intending to provide such supervision for unsupervised youth in the after-school hours may actually increase risk for delinquency. These investigators found that (1) the students most in need of after-school supervision chose not to participate in the program, (2) the program increased risk-taking and impulsiveness, and (3) the program worked no better for latch-key children than for children who had access to other supervision during the after school hours. These unfortunate outcomes make sense in light of other evidence (e.g., G. Gottfredson, 1987) demonstrating that interventions that group high-risk youths with lower-risk youths in the absence of a strong intervention to establish pro-social group norms often backfire.
In summary, research clearly supports the crime-prevention potential of providing direct adult supervision of high-risk juveniles when they would otherwise be unsupervised, but designing such interventions so that they will reach the intended population and counteract potential negative effects of grouping high-risk youths remains a challenge. The chapter on community programs finds reason for guarded optimism about the crime prevention potential of after-school recreation programs operating in high-crime areas by community-based organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs. It is possible that such programs are more effective than the more broadly defined alternative activities programs summarized here. It is also possible that features of the implementing organization and the community context within which the programs operate moderate the programs' effectiveness. Better research is clearly needed to isolate these characteristics of programs and contexts. At this point in time, expectations for these programs far exceed their empirical record. Because some studies have found backfire effects, it is particularly important to proceed with due caution.
A Comprehensive OJP-Funded Program: Cities in Schools (C.I.S.)
C.I.S. is a comprehensive dropout prevention program which combines several individual-level prevention strategies within a broader effort to alter the school environmental to facilitate the delivery of services to high-risk youths. Its breadth defies the program categorization adopted for this report. C.I.S. operates in 665 sites in 197 communities nationwide (OJJDP, 1995). It is operated by Cities in Schools, Inc., a nonprofit organization headquartered in Alexandria, VA. Regional and state-level offices bridge the gap between the national office and local programs. Regional staff are the primary providers of technical assistance and training to new and existing programs. State office functions parallel those of the regional offices.
The C.I.S. model utilizes the school as a site for service coordination and integration. It is more a strategy for service delivery than a program. It is based on the belief that the "existing human services delivery system is fragmented, categorical and uncoordinated, and that the clients of the system have multiple problems that extend beyond the relatively narrow agendas of particular agencies (Rossman and Morley, 1995)." Several different strategies are used to address the problems of youth at risk for drop out. The central feature of C.I.S. is the assignment of caseworkers to groups of problem students at inner city schools. Common strategies include: 1) case management (often focusing on obtaining needed services such as health and dental screening, bus tickets, clothing, etc.), 2) individual or group counseling, 3) assistance with academic subjects, 4) attendance monitoring, and 5) activities to promote self-esteem and team building. A "C.I.S. class", although not required, is recommended by the national organization. No standard curriculum exists for the C.I.S. classes, but many focus on life-skills education and contain an emphasis on building students' self esteem and encouraging prosocial attitudes and behaviors. The activities are loosely structured. Tutoring and mentoring are among the most commonly provided services, but individual sites are encouraged to develop special services and arrangements according to their local needs, resources, and constraints.
Two evaluations of the C.I.S. program have been conducted. The first (Murray, Bourque & Mileff, 1981) reviews program outcomes from 1978-1980, the second (Rossman and Morley, 1995) outcomes from 1989-1991. The methodological rigor of both studies (2 and 1, respectively) falls below the cut-point established in this report for scientific credibility. Conclusions regarding program efficacy cannot be drawn based on either evaluation.
Murray et al. (1981) showed that the services delivered were not as strong as anticipated by the C.I.S. model. Rossman and Morley (1995) were unable to quantify the level of program implementation because the systematic records were not kept by the program. Analysis of drop out and absences included in the first evaluation suggested that C.I.S. did not have the desired effect on students. Analysis of absences included in the second evaluation generally showed that C.I.S. students with the most severe problems demonstrated improvement over time. Whether this is attributable to the program or to regression to the mean is not known. Analysis of drop out in the second evaluation suggested that the dropout rate for C.I.S. students compared favorably to other at-risk populations in the nation but offered no evidence about the comparability of these other populations to the C.I.S. population on other variables that would place students at risk for dropping out. An examination of the effect of the C.I.S. program on a variety of problem behaviors was included in the second evaluation. C.I.S. students are asked to report how big of a problem a behavior used to be and whether or not this has changed. Results indicated that students were more likely to experience improvement or no change as opposed to getting worse. The design (lack of comparison group, retrospective self-report) tells us nothing about the effects of C.I.S. on these behavioral outcomes.
In summary, although several aspects of the C.I.S. strategy resemble components shown in other work to have promise for reducing delinquency and substance use, the effects of C.I.S. on these behaviors is unknown because its evaluations have lacked the rigor necessary to justify any conclusions about its effectiveness. Mentoring and the "school-within-a-school" structure used in some of the C.I.S. sites are promising for reducing delinquency or substance use. On the other hand, counseling, unstructured life skills classes, and community service activities have been shown to be ineffective for reducing these problem behaviors, and grouping high-risk students together in the absence of a structured program appears to increase delinquency. C.I.S. has been successful in accessing a large number of at risk students, establishing a service delivery mechanism for them, and generating funds (both federal and other) to initiate and sustain interventions. The programs needs to be rigorously evaluated.
What Works? Strategies for which at least two different studies have found positive effects on measures of problem behavior and for which the preponderance of evidence is positive are:
Crime and delinquency:
(1) Programs aimed at building school capacity to initiate and sustain innovation.
(2) Programs aimed at clarifying and communicating norms about behaviors -- by establishing school rules, improving the consistency of their enforcement (particularly when they emphasize positive reinforcement of appropriate behavior), or communicating norms through school-wide campaigns (e.g., anti-bullying campaigns) or ceremonies; and
(3) Comprehensive instructional programs that focus on a range of social competency skills (e.g, developing self-control, stress-management, responsible decision-making, social problem-solving, and communication skills) and that are delivered over a long period of time to continually reinforce skills.
(1) Programs aimed at clarifying and communicating norms about behaviors;
(2) Comprehensive instructional programs that focus on a range of social competency skills (e.g, developing self-control, stress-management, responsible decision-making, social problem-solving, and communication skills) and that are delivered over a long period of time to continually reinforce skills; and
(3) Behavior modification programs and programs that teach "thinking skills" to high-risk youths.
What does not work? Strategies for which at least two different studies have found no positive effects on measures of problem behavior and for which the preponderance of evidence is not positive are:
(1) Counseling students, particularly in a peer-group context, does not reduce delinquency or substance use.
(2) Offering youths alternative activities such as recreation and community service activities in the absence of more potent prevention programming does not reduce substance use. This conclusion is based on reviews of broadly-defined alternative activities in school- and community settings. Effects of these programs on other forms of delinquency are not known.
(3) Instructional programs focusing on information dissemination, fear arousal, moral appeal, and affective education are ineffective for reducing substance use.
What is promising? Several strategies have been shown in only one rigorous study to reduce delinquency or substance use. If the preponderance of evidence for these strategies is positive, they are regarded as "promising" until replication confirms the effect. These strategies are:
Crime and delinquency:
(1) Programs that group youths into smaller "schools-within-schools" to create smaller units, more supportive interactions, or greater flexibility in instruction; and
(2) Behavior modification programs and programs that teach "thinking skills" to high-risk youths.
(1) Programs aimed at building school capacity to initiate and sustain innovation; (2) Programs that group youths into smaller "schools-within-schools" to create smaller units, more supportive interactions, or greater flexibility in instruction; and
(3) Programs that improve classroom management and that use effective instructional techniques.
Effectiveness of DOJ Programs
With the notable exception of D.A.R.E. evaluations, the evaluations of school-based prevention programs funded by OJP are generally too weak to justify conclusions about the effectiveness of the programs.
D.A.R.E. Evaluations show that as it is most commonly implemented, D.A.R.E. does not reduce substance use appreciably. But the revised D.A.R.E. curriculum with its follow-up sessions in later grades has not been evaluated. Given the more general finding that instructional drug prevention programs are most effective when delivered over extended periods of time, a reasonable course of action would be to conduct a rigorous study to compare the revised D.A.R.E. program including its follow-up sessions with other plausible, long-term drug prevention curricula containing more social competency content. This study should randomly assign fifth or sixth grade classrooms to receive either D.A.R.E. with its booster sessions or a non-D.A.R.E. program of equal length and intensity and its booster sessions. Long-term effects should be assessed in a longitudinal study and care should be taken to ensure sufficient statistical power to detect small differences in effectiveness.
L.R.E. The national evaluation of L.R.E. was inconclusive. As detailed above, L.R.E. has theoretical promise only when the law-related curriculum is embedded in a more comprehensive program of improved classroom organization and management. A stand-alone law-related education curriculum is no more likely to reduce delinquency than a stand-alone drug education program is to reduce substance use. More rigorous evaluation is needed to evaluate L.R.E. as it is typically implemented, and to isolate the effective ingredients in the multi-component L.R.E. interventions that have resulted in positive evaluations.
C.I.S. Evaluations of C.I.S. have not been of sufficient methodological rigor to justify conclusions about its crime prevention potential. C.I.S. represents a vehicle through which a variety of prevention services could be effectively delivered. But as currently implemented, the mix of services provided is as likely to contain ineffective as effective ones. If Congress is to continue to mandate these programs, rigorous tests of evaluations should now be conducted.
Several additional categories of school-based programs are supported from time-to-time by OJP. These include "Midnight basketball" and other recreational activities intended to reduce crime, peer mediation programs; and violence prevention curricula. A variety of after-school program models are also being developed. None of these program types have been studied with sufficient rigor to justify conclusions about their effectiveness, but some evaluations have produced disappointing results. Rigorous evaluation of the OJP-funded programs is required.
Byrne Funds. Little is known about the specific school-based programs supported by Byrne Block Grant Funding. One of the purpose areas for this funding is education, however, and $74.7 million was spent between 1989 and 1994 for these education programs. Some of this funding is known to support local D.A.R.E. programs, known to be ineffective as most commonly implemented. The block grant program as it is currently organized might be strengthened through federal efforts to disseminate information to state and local agencies about what school-based strategies work to reduce delinquency.
Improving Effectiveness Through Evaluation and Research
The studies reviewed in this chapter have demonstrated that school-based prevention can work. With few exceptions, the different categories of prevention activities have been shown to reduce delinquency or substance abuse in at least one rigorous study. The magnitude of the effects of these strategies ranges from small (e.g., for instructional drug prevention programs and classroom management interventions) to moderate (e.g., for a behavior modification intervention and some of the more comprehensive programs such as STATUS, that combined a school-within-a-school structure with an innovative curriculum and effective instructional methods). Yet the magnitude and durability of effects of school-based prevention efforts, although at least comparable to those of delinquency prevention and treatment efforts in other settings, are low relative to the theoretical promise and anticipated potential of these programs. More important than the question of which individual strategies "work" is the question of how the promising strategies can be strengthened to improve their yield. These efforts should focus on two broad areas: Specifying theories underlying school-based prevention and improving the level of implementation of prevention programs.
Specifying theories of school-based prevention. Much school-based prevention is guided by the following general notions about the nature and causes of problem behaviors: (1) Different problem behaviors are highly related; (2) different problem behaviors share common antecedents; (3) the common antecedents are the risk and protective factors identified in research as correlates of problem behavior (e.g., as summarized in reviews such as Hawkins, Catalano, & Miller, 1992 and Loeber & Dishion, 1983); and (4) prevention efforts aimed directly at these risk and protective factors will reduce problem behavior. Specific school-based delinquency prevention practices are often justified on the basis of demonstrated effect on one or more known risk or protective factors for delinquency.
The prevention focus on risk and protective factors is enormously popular among practitioners and has succeeded in pushing practice away from strategies with no basis in research and towards strategies with plausibility. At the same time, accumulated evidence has raised questions about the relative potency of different risk and protective factors and their possible differential effects on various problem behaviors. Some risk-based strategies show promise for reducing substance use but not other forms of delinquency (e.g, mentoring programs and the classroom organization and management strategies summarized earlier). Other programs have clear effects on aggressive behavior and school conduct problems, but the evidence for an effect on measures of criminal activity is less convincing (e.g., cognitive training strategies and social competency instruction). Many programs have large effects on academic achievement, commitment to school, or attachment to school, but no effect (Hawkins, Catalano, et al, 1992; Hawkins, Doueck & Lishner, 1988) or even negative effects (D. Gottfredson, 1986) on delinquency and substance use. Clearly, enhancing protective factors or reducing risk factors does not ensure a large reduction in delinquency. The focus on risk and protective factors has been and no doubt will continue to be a valuable contribution to the prevention field. But more productive theory-building and testing is now required to make significant progress. School-based prevention efforts would benefit from the development and testing of multi-level theories that specify how environmental features of schools interact with individual-level processes generating delinquent behavior. Efforts to clarify the causal processes linking school characteristics and schooling experiences to delinquency can be expected to lead to refined program designs which target the most potent theoretical variables.
Improving implementation of school-based prevention programs. Researchers have recently turned their attention to better understanding the conditions which may impede the implementation of prevention programs and therefore limit their effectiveness. Elias, Weissberg, et al. (1994) recommend comprehensive, multi-year, multi-component approaches over more traditional single-intervention ones. This idea is also supported by meta-analysis results showing that programs using multiple interventions work better than those using a single intervention strategy (Tobler, 1986) and by results summarized above. Some of the more comprehensive programs reviewed above (e.g., Olweus' bullying intervention in Norway schools; Gottfredson's school-capacity building interventions) are among the more potent programs for reducing delinquency. Given that the single largest federal expenditure on school-based prevention (Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities monies administered by the U.S. Department of Education) funds primarily narrower strategies such as student assistance programs (a form of counseling) and drug instruction, this recommendation alone, if heeded, can be expected to boost the effectiveness of school-based prevention activities.
Elias, Weissberg et al. (1994) also advocate strategies to strengthen the "host environment." These strategies include working with staffs in the schools to ensure goal consensus and fluency in the theory underlying the prevention approach, and using an action research model to clarify expectations, monitor progress, and identify and resolve problems which present obstacles to implementation as they arise. Support for these capacity-building strategies is summarized above.
Gottfredson, Fink, Skroban & Gottfredson (1996) summarize literature on factors related to successful educational reform in general. The capacity of schools to initiate and sustain reform, and consequently the strength and fidelity of those reforms, varies considerably across geographic areas, with schools in urban areas most likely to lack the infrastructure necessary to support change. Many features of school organizations shown to be related to successful reform -- quality leadership, teacher morale, teacher mastery, school climate, and resources -- are lower on average in urban than in other schools. The literature on school reform suggests that the strength and durability of school-based prevention programs can be increased by embedding specific program components within a broader capacity-building effort that attends to these larger organizational issues.
The recommended direction for school-based prevention -- towards multi-faceted, longer-term, and broader-reaching programs embedded in school capacity-building activities-- presents a challenge to researchers and policy-makers alike because the "user-friendliness" of programs is related to the fidelity of their implementation. More complex programs are more likely to be watered down or "reinvented" by school staff. Indeed, experience working with a troubled urban middle school to implement a multi-component prevention program over a four-year period (Gottfredson, Gottfredson, & Skroban, 1996) illustrated the challenge. The program included several components aimed at increasing social competency skills as well as components aimed at increasing social bonding and school success. Most pieces had been demonstrated in prior "single intervention" research to reduce problem behavior or factors leading to it, and are included among the program strategies that "work," summarized above. The five-year study tested the transportability of these intervention strategies into a more comprehensive program that could be implemented in a natural school setting as part of a multi-year school-based prevention demonstration. The evaluation of the five-year effort showed that the program never reached its expected level of implementation and no reliable effects on youth behaviors or attitudes were observed. The organization proved incapable of absorbing this ambitious program.
The question of what it will take to initiate and sustain meaningful change in schools is the highest priority question for researchers and policy makers at this time. We know from research summarized in this chapter that a variety of strategies can reduce delinquency or substance use. But the conditions under which much of the research -- particularly the research on individually-focused interventions -- was conducted do not resemble real-world conditions in schools where programs are most needed. Tobler (1992) shows, for example, that among the top ten most effective drug prevention programs identified in the literature, only one was implemented by classroom teachers, and even that intervention was unusual because extraordinary amounts of training and consultation was provided for the teachers. When school-based programs are implemented under less than ideal conditions results have not been as positive. In a study of Hispanic students in eight urban schools in the New York area, Botvin, Dusenbury, Baker, James-Ortiz, & Kerner (1989), reported that the amount of the L.S.T. program material covered by teachers ranged from 44% to 83%. When the experimental sample was divided into high implementation (with a mean completion rate of 78%) and low implementation (mean of 56%), positive effects of the program were found only in high implementation group. This accords with more general findings from Lipsey's (1992) extensive meta-analysis of prevention and treatment programs which found that programs delivered by researchers were more effective than those delivered by the typical practitioner, presumably because researchers attended more to issues of strength and integrity of program implementation.
These facts must be understood if we are to strengthen prevention programming. Several of the studies summarized above (e.g., Botvin et al, 1995; Gottfredson, Gottfredson, & Hybl, 1993; Johnson, 1984) reported effects separately for groups of schools or teachers that differed on the strength and fidelity of program implementation. The evidence always suggests that more delinquency is prevented when strategies are implemented with greater fidelity over prolonged periods and that these conditions are met more easily in some schools than in others. Additional research is now needed to increase our understanding of how the potential of strategies we already know about can be realized in real-world settings.
An example of a comprehensive, theory-based, well-implemented school-based intervention. A recent example of a school-based intervention to reduce conduct disorder that addresses the shortcomings of prevention programming summarized earlier is the FAST Track (Families and Schools Together; Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group, 1992) Program, currently being tested in four cities with support from the National Institute of Mental Health. The program was developed by a consortium of social scientists on the basis of developmental theory about the causes of conduct disorder in children and previous evaluations of specific, theory-based program components. It integrates five intervention components designed to promote competence in the family, child, and school and thus prevent conduct problems, poor social relations, and school failure -- all precursors of subsequent criminal behavior -- during the elementary school years. The program involves training for parents in family management practices; frequent home visits by program staff to reinforce skills learned in the training, promote parental feelings of efficacy, and enhance family organization; social skills coaching for children delivered by program staff and based on effective models described earlier; academic tutoring for children three times per week; and a classroom instructional program focusing on social competency skills coupled with classroom management strategies for the teacher. The program therefore includes several of the most effective school-based strategies summarized earlier as well as the most effective strategies from the family domain.
The participating schools and families work closely with the research team to implement the program in a strong fashion and support its evaluation. Only preliminary data are available from the rigorous evaluation of this ongoing project. Dodge (1993) reported that after one year of this intensive program, clear positive effects were evident on several of the intermediate behaviors targeted by the program (e.g., parent involvement in the child's education and child social-cognitive skills) and significantly less problem behavior (ES=-.25) was recorded by trained observers for the treatment than for the comparison children. These positive results for such a difficult population are encouraging and attest to the need for more comprehensive, theory-based, preventive interventions implemented with careful attention to strength and fidelity. The cost of such high-quality program development is high compared with typical expenditures on program development and evaluation for OJP programs: FAST Track's budget exceeds $1 million per year for each of the four program sites.
These comments are intended to stimulate thinking about what Congress and OJP can do to contribute to the development of stronger school-based delinquency prevention efforts. Specific recommendations for strengthening programs are:
1. Increase Congressional appropriations for school-based prevention activities. OJP funding for school-based crime prevention is meager compared with its expenditures in other domains within OJP and compared with expenditures by other agencies on school-based prevention. Total expenditures on school-based prevention (partially summarized in Table 5-1) are less than $25 million per year,9 compared with $1.4 billion for the extra police programs and $617 million for prison construction. This limited investment in school-based crime prevention, in light of its promise demonstrated in this chapter, represents a lost opportunity for preventing crime.
2. Support multi-year prevention efforts (e.g., programs that span the elementary school years, the middles school years, and the high school years rather than single-year programs);
3. Support multi-component prevention efforts that include the environmental-change and individual strategies that have been shown to work in some settings under some conditions and whose positive results have been replicated:
(a) Programs aimed at building school capacity to initiate and sustain innovation;
(b) Programs aimed at clarifying and communicating norms about behaviors;
(c) Comprehensive instructional programs that focus on a range of social competency skills (e.g, developing self-control, stress-management, responsible decision-making, social problem-solving, and communication skills) and that are delivered over a long period of time to continually reinforce skills; and
(d) Behavior modification programs and programs that teach "thinking skills" to high-risk youths.
4. Reduce funding for program categories (counseling students for delinquency prevention, alternative activities such as recreation and community service activities in the absence of more potent prevention programming for drug prevention, and instructional drug prevention programs focusing on information dissemination, fear arousal, moral appeal, and affective education) known to be ineffective.
5. Support activity to disseminate information about effective and ineffective school-based strategies to practitioners and to local- and state-level program managers and policy-makers.
Additional recommendations for evaluation and research needed to improve the effectiveness of school-based prevention include:
1. Require (and provide the substantial financial investment to enable) rigorous evaluation of the long-term multi-component models recommended above, insisting that studies of the effectiveness of strategies aimed at altering school and classroom environments be conducted using schools or classrooms as the unit of analysis, and testing the generalizeability of effects across different types of communities.
2. Support replication studies of the promising strategies identified in the summary section above;
3. Support theory-building and testing efforts which seek to clarify the causal models relating school experiences and delinquency;
4. Support research to investigate school conditions conducive to high-quality implementation of prevention programs; and
5. Support the development and rigorous testing, especially in urban areas, of strategies designed specifically to improve the level of implementation of prevention programs.
1The editorial assistance of Roger Weissberg and the research assistance of Todd Armstrong, Veronica Puryear, John Ridgely, Stacy Skroban, and Shannon Womer are gratefully acknowledged.
2Of course, more money is spent on maintaining basic educational services. The largest proportion of spending for children and youth in all states is tied to schools (Holmes, Gottfredson, & Miller, 1992) -- mostly to maintain basic education processes. An argument can be made for counting these large basic education expenditures as prevention expenditures because they are directed at improving the social capital of the citizenry (e.g., education and proper conduct) which protects youths from later involvement in a variety of problem behaviors. Because the evidence for a connection between basic education programs and practices and crime is largely indirect, such basic education functions will be given short shrift in this chapter. Researchers and policy-makers should devote more attention, however, to understanding the crime prevention potential of large federal entitlement programs such as Chapter I of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which distributes approximately $6.7 billion in federal funds to local school districts to enhance basic educational processes.
3OJP spends approximately $1.4 billion on extra policing programs and $617 million on prison construction projects per year.
4Code sheets used to code methodological rigor and gather information for the computation of effect sizes are show in the methods appendix. All coding was done by two trained graduate students. All discrepancies were discussed and resolved. Seven aspects of the methods used in each study were rated to arrive at an overall rating of methodological rigor ranging from “1" (for studies having no controls for plausible alternative explanations for observed effects, insufficient power to detect program effects, or inadequate measurement of key outcome variables) to “5" (for studies employing random assignment to treatment and control conditions, sufficient power, and reliable and valid measurement).
5A district consolidation of high schools prevented continued evaluation at the high school level.
6Effect sizes reported here are the effect sizes for treatment school change from pre-intervention to post-intervention reported in the original report minus the same effect sizes reported for the comparison schools.
7Evaluations of D.A.R.E. are too numerous for detailed summary of each. The Bureau of Justice Assistance has identified 23 D.A.R.E. evaluations conducted between 1991 and 1996, several of which are included in the summary below. Others are not included because they are primarily descriptive evaluations of state-level efforts which have not appeared in the scientific literature. An assessment of this fugitive literature seems unneccesary given the consistency of findings in the published literature. At any rate, such an effort is beyond the scope of this review.
8The researchers who conducted the national evaluation for OJJDP have continued to develop and write about the program. Later reports contain the same ambiguity as the earlier study of the Colorado sites.
9This figure does not include Byrne Block Grant monies, some of which fund local D.A.R.E. programs. But even with the Byrne funds, expenditures on school-based prevention are meager.
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