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Quality of School-Based Prevention Programs: Results from a National Survey

NCJ Number
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency Volume: 39 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2002 Pages: 3-35
Date Published
February 2002
33 pages

A national survey focused on the quality of implementation of school-based juvenile delinquency prevention activities and gathered information on activities that were operating in the spring of 1998.


The survey collected information about programs and practices that sought to improve school safety and prevent or manage a variety of problem behaviors including criminal activity, juvenile drug use, dropping out of school, truancy, tardiness, classroom or school misbehavior, risky sexual behavior, and reckless driving. The research took place during the 1997 and 1998 school years. The study used a national probability sample of 1,287 public, private, and Catholic schools, stratified by location (urban, suburban, and rural) and level (elementary, middle, and high). Responses came from 848 schools and involved 3,691 completed questionnaires regarding specific prevention activities. Results indicated a low quality of implementation in the typical school. Programs tended to have fewer sessions and last for shorter periods than research-based programs of the same type. In addition, the typical activity used 71 percent of the identified best practices with respect to content and 50 percent of the best practices with respect to methods. The analysis of correlates of prevention quality suggested that several approaches would improve the quality of implementation. These approaches include better integration of these activities into normal school operations; more extensive local planning and involvement in decisions about what to implement; greater organizational support in the form of high-quality training, supervision, and principal support; and greater standardization of program materials and methods. Findings indicated the need for schools to increase their emphasis on the quality of prevention activities and for educational decision-makers to allocate resources to prevention and establish accountability mechanisms. Tables and 30 references (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: February 1, 2002