4. Provide Opportunities for Children and Youth
What future do children envision for themselves? What opportunities are presented to them as they grow up? Many children grow up amid poverty, violence, and illness. They see their families, friends, and communities suffering from the effects of alcoholism, unemployment, incarceration, AIDS, or a lack of educational opportunities. Many children, however, are resilient and manage to succeed despite a negative environment. Although not all children are faced with adverse circumstances, our Nation's well-being requires that every child in every community be guaranteed the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.
Providing children with the opportunity to develop positive behaviors is the foundation of most efforts to prevent youth crime and violence. For nearly three decades, educators, policymakers, and criminal justice professionals have sought effective crime prevention strategies. Although some communities are experiencing success, the country is plagued with escalating juvenile violence, which has compelled policymakers to turn their attention from prevention to "get tough" approaches. But we know now what works. Effective strategies include comprehensive approaches that provide opportunities for education, mentoring, conflict resolution training, and safety; engage youth and their families; and are community-based and integrated.1
This section of the Action Plan emphasizes the importance of enhancing delinquency prevention efforts and coordinating them throughout the community. It focuses on what we know about factors that put youth at risk of becoming delinquent or serious and violent offenders as well as those that protect youth. It encourages communities to take steps to reduce characteristics that contribute to delinquency while strengthening characteristics that nurture youth. This section emphasizes the importance of truancy reduction and safe school programs and illustrates the Coordinating Council's strong support of youth involvement in community crime and violence prevention strategies. The section concludes that positive youth skill building, through mentoring, conflict resolution, and community service, can work to prevent or reduce juvenile delinquency and serious juvenile violence, especially when coordinated with broader communitywide efforts.
Current Status and Analysis of the Problem
Most adolescents are on a healthy path to productive adult lives. There is evidence, however, that 25 percent of adolescents are at significant risk of veering off that path because they frequently engage in behaviors with negative consequences, such as alcohol or other drug abuse, unprotected sexual activity, delinquency, or violence. Another 25 percent of adolescents, who engage in fewer of these behaviors, are at moderate risk.2
A 1992 study conducted by the Carnegie Foundation determined that only 60 percent of an adolescent's nonsleeping time is taken up by school, homework, chores, meals, or employment. Many adolescents spend the remaining 40 percent of their nonsleeping time alone, with peers without adult supervision, or with adults who might negatively influence their behavior.3 A recent study found that 27 percent of eighth graders spent 2 or more hours alone after school and that low-income youth were more likely than others to be home alone for 3 or more hours.4 It is not surprising, therefore, that most violent crimes committed by juveniles take place at the close of the school day, when fewer opportunities for constructive activities are available. (See figure 11.)
In recent years, the capacity of America's low-income rural and urban communities to provide critical positive activities or environments has declined. Public schools in many areas have deteriorated, and the quality of public education has been compromised. City parks and recreation centers are in disrepair, and financial support for youth facilities and programs has decreased,5 leaving high-risk environments for youth.
The demand for an immediate solution to this problem, which commands considerable public attention, has been compounded by a historical impatience with prevention strategies in which results may be long in coming and benefits -- that is, crimes not committed -- are extremely difficult to measure. The good news, however, is that three decades of seeking effective prevention strategies finally have netted results.
The public health model has been particularly useful in developing a strong scientific process and assessment of prevention activities. (See figure 12 for a public health model for prevention.)
Figure 11: Violent crime occurrence times
Risk Factors for Delinquency
Some youth lack healthy parental guidance and monitoring. Some youth have cognitive and psychological deficits that make social and academic success difficult. Some attend disorganized and disruptive schools and fail to engage in academic pursuits. Some live in chaotic neighborhoods with few resources or outlets for positive social activities. Some are excluded from prosocial peer groups and have few, if any, wholesome friends.
These risk factors, particularly when several are present, increase the likelihood of delinquency and violence. Conditions such as maltreatment or neglect by family members and others, a community with a large population of delinquent juveniles and gangs, ready access to drugs and guns, and an unsafe school increase the chance that a youth will make unhealthy or unlawful choices.
The study of Causes and Correlates of Delinquency, sponsored by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP),6 found the influence of peers and parents to be strong risk factors in the causes of delinquency. (See figure 13.)
Some youth who experience child abuse, neglect, poverty, poor health, or other risk factors do not become juvenile delinquents, school drop-outs, or teenage parents. These youth have the benefit of a combination of protective factors that help guide them in making healthy choices.
A resilient temperament and the development of close relationships with parents and other role models who provide encouragement, healthy beliefs, and clear standards of behavior offer protection from negative environmental influences.7 In general, healthy youth have resources in their families and communities that help them control their behavior and provide them with the skills and opportunities to be successful. Often referred to as protective factors, these resources reduce the chance that youth will become involved in serious delinquency.
Prevention strategies seek to reduce existing risk factors and provide protective factors that are missing from a youth's environment. In many ways, prevention strategies attempt to provide for at-risk children what effective parents and communities provide in the natural course of youth development. The most effective prevention strategies attend to family and community deficits over a sustained period of time.
The Social Development Strategy suggests that opportunities, skills, and recognition lead to healthy behaviors. (See figure 14.) The underlying theme of this strategy is to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors in the lives of at-risk children. The identification of risk factors and protective factors has been an important step in prevention, assisting educators and practitioners in developing more effective programs for youth.
Figure 12: Public health model for prevention
Source: Mercy, J.A., M.L. Rosenberg, K.E. Powell, C.V. Broome, and W.L. Roper. Public health policy for preventing violence. Health Affairs. 1993 (Winter): 15. V12 N4.
Experts studying the impact of cultural influences on youth believe that conditions such as poverty, unemployment, discrimination, poor health, poor education, and despair lay the foundation for alcohol and other drug-related problems. These conditions must be alleviated. Risk factor research has become more comprehensive and now includes the following domains: individual, family, school, peer group, and community. Protective factor research, however, has primarily identified strategies that focus on the individual. Although it is important to focus on increasing skills or abilities of the individual, it is equally imperative to focus on changing and improving social systems that create these conditions. The following elements increase the likelihood of successful change:
- Protective factors in the family, including having parents who demonstrate love and caring for their children, who are involved in their children's activities, and who monitor and supervise their children's behaviors. Other family-oriented protective factors include family stability and adequate financial resources.
- Positive personal attributes such as intelligence, a steady disposition, social skills (including the ability to solve problems without resorting to violence), and a conventional belief system.
- Schools that positively shape behavior of young children and teenagers due to strong policies on violence and drugs. Teachers who care about students and demonstrate concern for their students' social and academic growth also help to ensure successful development. When youth are prepared for school, succeed in school, and are committed to the education system, they are less likely to become delinquents.
- Communities that provide opportunities and social controls. Communities that exhibit a high level of organization and cooperation, with neighbors working together to meet common objectives, channel youth behavior toward positive outcomes. For example, communities with active PTA's, afterschool activities, churches and religious organizations, and youth social clubs help to protect youth from the temptations and hazards that exist in society.
- Youth participation in and acceptance by prosocial peer groups. Peer influence is particularly important during adolescence.
- Adult supervision of and involvement in youth peer group activities, to provide added protection against developing delinquent behavior.
Figure 13: Influence of parents and peers on delinquency
Data Source: Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency. 1993. (November). Urban Delinquency and Substance Abuse, technical report.
Source: Thornberry, T.P., D. Huizinga, and R. Loeber. 1995. Sourcebook on Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.
Cumulative Impact of Protective Factors
Healthy growth and development are most likely to occur when protective factors are sustained throughout these areas of influence. A nurturing family, positive friendships, a good education, and career opportunities combine as important factors to ensure positive outcomes for youth, not only in preventing delinquency but also in preventing substance abuse, violent behavior, teenage pregnancy, and school dropout. Parents should attempt to provide their children with this constellation of protective factors continuously over the course of their development.
Comprehensive Delinquency Prevention
The best delinquency prevention strategies are comprehensive, reducing risk and developing protective factors in each child and in families, schools, communities, and peers. Researchers have found that collective strategies with multiple protective programs, rather than those that address single risk factors, have a sizable impact on reducing delinquency.8 Activities that take place under one roof in the community and that reflect the cultural values of participants are more likely to engage the individuals they are meant to serve. This means that to effectively reduce youth violence, strategies must engage the entire spectrum of systems and individuals impacting a young person's life.
Serious delinquency and youth violence are most likely to occur in youth exposed to multiple risk factors, multiple deficits of protective factors, and multiple concurrent problem behaviors. Consequently, prevention strategies need to deal simultaneously with a host of problems and require comprehensive strategies. Moreover, because risk factors and concurrent problem behaviors tend to interact with one another, it is important that prevention strategies deal with all of these factors in an integrated fashion. This recommendation is consistent with what we know about resilient youth. Even high-risk youth can avoid involvement in delinquency if they experience many protective factors.9
Improving education and youth employment opportunities, enhancing social skills, and providing youth with mentors and adult role models are essential components of delinquency prevention. Three decades of research indicate that increased opportunities for success, meaningful activities, positive role models, consistent moral standards, and viable educational and employment opportunities have a prominent place in the Nation's crime control strategy.
Decades of research also demonstrate that delinquency prevention is cost effective. According to one conservative estimate, the average cost of incarcerating a juvenile for 1 year is close to $34,000.10 Others put the figure between $35,000 and $64,000.11 In addition, the total cost of a young adult's (ages 18 to 23) serious, violent criminal career is estimated to be $1.1 million.12 In contrast, the current cost of Head Start's intervention program, which is effective in developing school readiness skills among high-risk children and reduction in later delinquency, is $4,300 per year per child. Similarly, a delinquency prevention program in California produced a direct savings to law enforcement and the juvenile justice system of $1.40 for every $1 spent on prevention.13
Figure 14: Social development strategy
Source: Howell, J.C., ed. 1995 (May) Guide for Implementing the Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders. Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice.
Effective and Promising Strategies and Programs
Delinquency Prevention Works
We know that there are effective programs that reduce delinquency and show promise for stemming the rising tide of delinquency and youth violence. Materials on this research published by OJJDP and others summarize much of the treatment and evaluation literature and identify model programs that are worthy of replication. Among the best of these reports are those of Lipsey,14 Tolan and Guerra,15 Howell,16 Thornberry,17 and Mendel.18
Too many of America's young people attend school on an irregular basis, resulting in their failure to gain a solid foundation of basic academic skills. These young people have not yet officially dropped out of school and they are not on an extended absence due to illness. They are truants -- at risk of academic failure and dropping out of school at age 16, or earlier, and never obtaining the skills necessary to become contributing members of society. Truancy has been rated among the top 10 problems facing schools, with the daily absentee rate as high as 30 percent in some cities. As a number of studies have documented,19 high rates of truancy are linked to high daytime burglary rates and vandalism. Truancy is not a problem restricted to the education and law enforcement communities. It has an even more important impact on the truant's ability to learn, develop interpersonal relationships, and ultimately complete school and gain the knowledge and skills necessary for higher education and/or future employment. In order to comprehensively address the truancy problem, a range of interested parties must join together to coordinate a response. These parties include schools, law enforcement agencies, parents, businesses, judicial and social services agencies, and community and youth organizations.
Communities have a responsibility to provide an appropriate education for all youth in a disciplined, safe, and secure environment. Yet school systems are frequently presented with students who have specific instructional and/or social problems that make it difficult to achieve in the regular school environment with a traditional curriculum. A host of problems from the home and the community emerge in the classroom and require special handling. Teachers may observe signs of hunger, child abuse, neglect, alcohol or other drug abuse, learning disabilities, developmental problems, socialization problems, behavior disorders, gang involvement, and a general lack of school readiness.
In order to provide prevention and early intervention for youth at risk of truancy, as well as youth who are truant, the school system needs the active support and participation of parents, students, the community, law enforcement, and businesses. A number of jurisdictions across the country have truancy prevention and intervention programs that are collaborative initiatives, and they are listed in the National School Safety Center publication Increasing Student Attendance.20 In addition, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges' (NCJFCJ) report, A New Approach to Runaway, Truant, Substance Abusing and Beyond Control Children,21 describes innovative processes and approaches that individual communities might adopt to more adequately address this population of youth. NCJFCJ has also updated its Disposition Resource Manual22 that informs judges and juvenile court personnel about various programs that hold promise or have proven positive results. Within the Manual, several programs are provided that address the problem of truancy.
Truancy reduction programs are having positive effects on both school attendance and juvenile crime. A truancy reduction program in the Oklahoma City public school system reported a steady decline in the dropout rate from 5.9 percent to 4.1 percent during the 1991-92 school year.23 The Truancy Habits Reduced, Increasing Valuable Education (THRIVE) program is a partnership between the school system and law enforcement to reduce truancy and crime during school hours. Law enforcement officers bring in juveniles who are out of school without an excuse and notify parents who must pick up their children. If parents cannot be located, juveniles are sent to the Oklahoma County Youth Services Agency until they can be picked up.
Another truancy prevention program impacting elementary and middle school attendance and disciplinary referrals is Self Enhancement, Inc. (SEI) of Portland, OR. SEI is a community-based organization that began in 1981 and has served more than 12,000 inner-city school students. The program offers classroom instruction, extracurricular activities, cultural enrichment, career counseling, and summer outreach for 450 high-risk children every year. SEI staff work with participants in their schools, provide tutoring, encourage academic excellence, and respond to crises in the school.
In addition, SEI sponsors field trips, sporting activities, and afterschool supervision. A key component of the program is for staff to work with families and help parents become more active in preventing truancy. In 1994, SEI participants had improved school attendance and disciplinary referrals dropped dramatically. Students in elementary school raised their grades by 47 percent and middle school students by 70 percent.24
Mentoring has been defined as a "sustained, close, developmental relationship between an older, more experienced individual and a younger person, with the goal of building character and competence on the part of the protégé."25 Usually the relationship involves regular contact over a sustained period of time and involves mutual commitment, respect, and loyalty.
Mentoring has proved to be a valuable strategy for helping disadvantaged youth. A mentoring relationship can enrich children's lives, address the isolation of some youth from adult contact, and provide support and advocacy for at-risk children. Research has indicated that mentoring relationships can have a positive impact on a youth's attitudes toward alcohol, tobacco, and drug use.26 Other studies document the positive effects of cross-cultural mentoring.27
Bigs in Blue is an innovative mentoring program developed by the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Warren County, NJ, that matches at-risk youth with police officer mentors. They employ prevention and intervention strategies to help youngsters from chaotic home environments cope with peer pressure, succeed in school, receive career guidance, and make sound life choices. Evaluations completed by parents, volunteers, and youth indicate reductions in delinquency and court involvement and improvement in school attendance, behavior, and grades.28
Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago, IL, the largest public housing development in the country, has implemented a Mentoring and Rites of Passage program designed to assist adolescents in their transition to adulthood. Mentors meet with groups of 10 to 15 youths of similar ages at least twice a week and address such areas as self-concept, sexual identity and awareness, communications and decisionmaking, and cultural heritage appreciation. Evaluations of participants are conducted every 6 months to track their interpretation of standard social interactions and situations, self-reported violent behavior and self concept, hospital visits related to violence, and calls to the police about violent events in the housing project.
Conflict resolution encompasses creative problemsolving strategies in which parties in dispute collaborate by expressing their points of view, voicing their interests, and finding mutually acceptable solutions. Conflict resolution programs recognize that conflict is natural and that people can learn new skills to deal with conflict in appropriate, nonviolent ways. The programs appear to be most effective when they are comprehensive and involve multiple components such as moral reasoning, anger control, social skills development, and collaborative problemsolving methods.
William DeJong, a lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health, reports in the 1994 fall issue of School Safety: "The best school-based violence prevention programs seek to do more than reach the individual child. They instead try to change the total school environment, to create a safe community that lives by a credo of nonviolence and multicultural appreciation."29 Effective conflict resolution programs achieve the following goals:
- Enable children to respond nonviolently to conflict, using the conflict resolution strategies of negotiation, mediation, and group problemsolving.
- Develop educators' competence to manage behavior in school without coercion, using a program that teaches students responsibility and self-discipline.
- Mobilize community involvement in violence prevention through education programs and services, such as expanding the role of youth as effective citizens beyond the school into the community.
Conflict resolution programs in schools generally fall into one of three models: mediation, curriculum integration, or peaceable schools. The peaceable schools model synthesizes the elements of the first two models.
Recognizing the importance of directly involving youth in conflict resolution, many school communities are employing peer mediation as a violence prevention strategy. In these programs, specially trained student mediators work with their peers to find resolutions to conflicts. Mediation programs reduce the use of traditional disciplinary actions such as suspension, detention, and expulsion; encourage effective problemsolving; decrease the need for teacher involvement in student conflicts; and improve school climate.
An example of a mediation program is We Can Work It Out, developed by the National Institute for Citizen Education in the Law and the National Crime Prevention Council. The program promotes mediation, negotiation, or other nonlitigating methods as strategies to settle unresolved confrontations and fighting. The program emphasizes the importance of showing students that many of the problems that are often taken to court might be solved more effectively through cooperative methods, such as peer mediation.
In the curriculum integration approach, teachers deliver daily lessons in conflict resolution, infuse conflict resolution concepts and skills into core curriculum areas, and model effective conflict resolution in their management of the classroom. Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) is a curriculum integration approach to conflict resolution for children from kindergarten through sixth grade. It is designed to enhance the social competence and understanding of elementary school children and to facilitate educational processes such as self-control, emotional awareness, and interpersonal problemsolving skills that are integrated into the curriculum. An evaluation of PATHS shows that the program is effective for both low- and high-risk children in increasing management and understanding of emotional experiences.30
Peaceable school programs seek to create schools in which conflict resolution has been integrated at every level. Ultimately, conflict resolution skills are adopted by every member of the school community, creating a school climate that encourages caring, honesty, cooperation, and appreciation for diversity. Peaceable school programs incorporate conflict resolution skills and noncoercive school and classroom management strategies directly into the classroom curriculum. Peaceable schools challenge youth and adults to believe and act on the understanding that a nonviolent, diverse society is a realistic goal.
In schools in New York and other cities, the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP) is implemented as a peaceable schools model of conflict resolution. The RCCP approach requires schools to participate in the curriculum for a year or more; in schools with a strong core of teachers who regularly use the curriculum, the student mediation program may be added. The RCCP approach to conflict resolution integrates two primary components: the RCCP elementary and secondary curriculum and the RCCP student mediation program. A third component -- the parent training curriculum -- introduces RCCP principles into the home to send youth a consistent message from parents and teachers, who thus reinforce each other on this crucial issue.
Safe Schools and Safe Havens
Community schools and family centers provide youth with safe spaces for productive alternatives to occupy out-of-school and weekend time. They also provide a central space for integrating various promising strategies and programs, such as mentoring, conflict resolution, and employment training. These programs generally provide a range of educational, recreational, and cultural activities in a supervised environment with trained staff.
For years Boys and Girls Clubs of America have been engaged in comprehensive strategies to help their members build self-esteem, acquire honest values, and pursue productive futures. These clubs also work specifically to prevent gang involvement. Supported in part by Federal funding, the clubs have developed partnerships with corporations, private foundations, individuals, and government agencies. According to a Columbia University study, Boys and Girls Clubs have been effective in increasing rates of school attendance and improving academic performance. In addition, Clubs in public housing projects have reduced the juvenile crime rate by 13 percent.31
Members of the Corporation for National Service's (CNS') AmeriCorps program have established a Safe Corridors program in eight elementary schools in Philadelphia. The program is designed to ensure the safe passage of youth to and from school by using 80 parent volunteers who patrol the streets around the schools in the mornings and afternoons. The volunteers design the program structure, uniforms, and policies, and are responsible for recruiting other parents to carry out the program. The Safe Corridors program has been so successful in increasing safety that the city is offering it as a model for statewide implementation.
In Seattle, WA, AmeriCorps members staff 7 Safe Haven sites that provide an opportunity for 1,000 at-risk youth to participate in workshops, tutoring and mentoring programs, and conflict resolution sessions. The programs are designed to increase self-esteem, provide educational opportunities, and reduce violent behavior.
National and Community Service Opportunities
CNS, established in 1993 to engage citizens of all ages and backgrounds in community service, operates AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America. AmeriCorps participants provide a year or two of public service in exchange for education awards to finance college or other educational training or to pay back student loans. Volunteers have helped elementary school students improve their reading skills and scores in Kentucky, patroled recreation areas in New York City, assisted law enforcement and community members in closing crack houses in Kansas City, and helped residents recover from natural disasters in California and the Midwest.
Through the Learn and Serve America program, school-age youth serve their communities by teaching younger students about violence prevention; designing crime prevention and public safety exhibits for local fairs; helping other youth to combat negative peer pressure; eliminating graffiti in their communities; establishing Junior Neighborhood Watch programs; and helping to identify physical problems in the community, such as broken lighting, overgrown foliage that blocks clear views of public places, and run-down parks.
One example of an effective community-building program is the Teens as Resources Against Drugs (TARAD) project, funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. This youth-led prevention program combats delinquency by inspiring teens to fight drug activity in their communities. Teens in New York City, Evansville, IN, and three South Carolina communities led the way in their schools and neighborhoods by creating anti-drug messages on murals; disseminating accurate facts about drugs and teaching their peers healthy life choices; writing, choreographing, and producing plays and puppet shows dramatizing the dangers of drug use; and organizing community events such as fairs and substance-free New Year's Eve parties. The teens report positive attitude changes about drug use among their peers. Another measure of success is that local agencies, groups, and organizations have assumed funding of most of the programs.32
Federal Action Steps
Launch an Initiative To Address the Problem of Youth Outside the Educational Mainstream
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Education (ED) will implement a joint initiative directed at youth who are in danger of leaving or who have left the educational mainstream. The initiative will heighten public awareness of this increasing problem and identify effective and promising programs that are finding solutions. It will provide assistance to selected jurisdictions and sites to develop or enhance programs for youth outside the educational mainstream, including youth who are truant, dropouts, afraid to go to school, suspended, or expelled (for example, for weapon possession), or need to be reintegrated into the mainstream from the juvenile justice system.
To help achieve the goals and objectives of this initiative, 4 regional forums and 10 training and technical assistance programs will be held to address the needs of these youth. One component will be a partnership between schools, law enforcement, and juvenile and family court judges. Collaborative efforts will focus on prevention, early intervention, and supportive services.
Provide Mentoring Opportunities for Youth
OJJDP will provide programmatic support, technical assistance, and training to 41 mentoring programs, funded under the Juvenile Mentoring Program (JUMP).
The Interagency Council on Mentoring, which includes representatives from the Domestic Policy Council; the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor (DOL), Defense, Education, and Justice; and the CNS, will continue to identify existing mentoring programs, investigate research issues, and explore opportunities for collaboration. The Council is publishing a report entitled Making the Most of Mentoring, which summarizes current mentoring efforts and proposes a three-part mentoring strategy.
Provide Guidance on School-Based Conflict Resolution Programs
OJJDP, in partnership with ED, will publish a guide and provide training seminars to help school administrators, teachers, and other interested parties understand the concept of conflict resolution and its usefulness in preventing violence and teaching positive life skills. The guide will be a tool for schools and communities to use in their strategic planning for implementing effective conflict resolution programs that meet their specific needs. By answering typical questions asked about conflict resolution, the guide will give readers a description of the essential elements of effective school-based conflict resolution programs, as well as information useful for establishing and sustaining conflict resolution programs in their schools. Six case studies incorporating models of peer mediation, curriculum integration, and peaceable schools will be included in the guide. Other helpful features include annotated lists of conflict resolution programs, resources, and trainers with contact information.
Increase School Safety To Improve Opportunities for Learning
Federal reforms such as the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Educate America: Goals 2000, and School to Work Transition are first steps in addressing the crisis facing our public school system. Title I, Part A of ESEA provides grants to States to support standards-based educational reform and improve the ability of schools to help educationally disadvantaged children. Before these improvements can be effective, however, students must be assured that they can learn in a safe environment.
ED's Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program (SDFSP) was established in 1994 to provide a comprehensive, coordinated approach to prevention of school violence and alcohol, tobacco, and drug use by young people. SDFSP administers State formula grant and discretionary grant programs and also provides technical assistance to schools in the development of comprehensive programs to prevent violence and drug use.
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) will provide funding to assess the effectiveness of the organizational structure and operation of a variety of these programs nationwide. This assessment will try to determine how school-based drug prevention programs, such as Drug Awareness Resistance Education (DARE), can be tailored to better meet the needs of specific populations. The study will also recommend new structures and operations to improve and expand DARE and other existing drug prevention education programs.
NIJ will also do the following:
- Fund evaluations of school-based programs aimed at reducing youth violence and promoting school safety.
- Support a study of juveniles who have been involved in school violence in an attempt to clarify the dynamics leading to violence. The information gathered from this study will be used to design and implement a school curriculum that better addresses those dynamics.
- Explore risk factors that contribute to delinquency (relationships among school discipline and control practices, behavior problems, in-school victimization, and school location) and school crime. This will be accomplished through analysis of information from interviews of students, teachers, and principals.
HHS has provided funds through the Community Schools/FACES grant programs to support the development or expansion of programs that are designed to improve the academic and social development of at-risk students at selected public schools in eligible communities. Activities in these schools include homework assistance and afterschool activities, such as educational, social, and athletic programs; nutrition services; mentoring programs; family counseling; and parenting programs.
To assist in ensuring the safety of these and other sites, OJJDP will support the National School Safety Center in providing training and information on school safety techniques through the School Administrators for Effective Police, Prosecution, and Probations Operations Leading to Improved Children and Youth Services (SAFE POLICY) program. This program addresses the problem of increased serious juvenile violence in schools. A team of school personnel develops strategies for sharing information and improving school safety, as well as supervision, control, and delinquency prevention.
Provide Youth With Activities That Encourage Positive Youth Development
To ensure that resource and family centers can implement programs, the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD's) National Youth Sports Grants will provide funds for positive alternative activities for at-risk youth, including sports, recreational, cultural, and educational programs. This grant program is a vehicle for youth to develop leadership skills, gain self-esteem, learn the value of teamwork, and exercise self-empowerment in a positive and drug-free environment.
OJJDP's Pathways to Success will promote business, entrepreneurial, educational, recreational, and job skills, as well as arts programs for afterschool and weekend hours. In addition, OJJDP's grant with the Academy for Educational Development will support the development of a curriculum that trains youth workers to apply a youth development approach.
Provide Training and Opportunities for Youth Employment
HUD will continue to fund the YouthBuild program, which works with AmeriCorps to help disadvantaged young adults who have dropped out of high school obtain employment and education skills that will help them achieve economic self-sufficiency.
To encourage the involvement, investment, and participation of educators, businesses, students, and parents, DOL's School-to-Work Opportunities Initiative will integrate a career employment, education, and learning program. The program will be geared to all youth to prepare them for the highly technological and rapidly evolving workplace. The link between unemployment and lack of opportunities and delinquency is strong, and a national commitment to this issue is critical. DOL administers the Job Corps to address the multiple barriers to employment faced by disadvantaged youth. Job Corps, which serves about 60,000 youth each year, provides a comprehensive mix of coordinated and integrated services in one facility. These services assist young adults to become more responsible, employable, and productive citizens.
The Department of the Interior and OJJDP will jointly sponsor the Youth Environmental Services (YES) program. The purpose of the YES program is twofold:
- To increase the capacity of States and communities to correct, treat, and rehabilitate adjudicated delinquents.
- To prevent at-risk youth from entering the juvenile justice system by implementing environmental work programs on federally owned land.
In addition, OJJDP will explore opportunities to include high-risk and juvenile court-involved youth in employment and training programs.
Establish and Support Family-Based Community Centers That Integrate Service Delivery Through a Range of Promising Prevention Programs
HHS will continue to fund community-based family resource programs to help States develop and implement, or expand and enhance, comprehensive statewide systems of family resource services. These services will be provided through innovative funding mechanisms and collaboration with existing education, vocation, rehabilitation, health, mental health, employment and training, child welfare, and other social service agencies. The goal will be to reduce barriers to the delivery of high-quality, community-based services for families, with an emphasis on interagency collaboration, service integration, public and private partnerships, interdisciplinary governance of lead agencies, and full partnership between families and professionals.
HUD awards grants to public housing authorities to provide families and youth with better access to education and employment opportunities. The objective is to help these individuals achieve economic self-sufficiency, improve their quality of life and, ultimately, decrease drug and crime problems. In 1995, $10 million was made available to support the Family Investment Centers and Youth Development initiative sites that are providing youth-related activities and services such as training and assistance in obtaining General Equivalency Diplomas (GED's) and entrepreneurship skills.
NIJ will continue to support an evaluation of the Boys and Girls Clubs program in public housing.
Provide Opportunities for Youth To Serve Their Communities
CNS will continue to establish full- and part-time community service programs such as AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America, which involve individuals of all ages in violence reduction initiatives and other public service activities. These include school-based initiatives for kindergarten through 12th grade and higher education programs that make service an integral part of college education.
OJJDP will continue to support Teens, Crime, and the Community, a program conducted by the National Crime Prevention Council and the National Institute for Citizen Education in the Law, that seeks to direct the energies of young people toward constructive activities designed to reduce crime and violence.
All Federal agencies administering programs that address the problem of juvenile violence will encourage communities to include youth in the planning and implementation of their programs.
Coordinate Federal Crime Prevention Programs
There is a substantial need to coordinate Federal programs that are designed to prevent and intervene in specific youth problems, improve the environments in which youth live, and foster the overall positive development of youth. The President's Crime Prevention Council, created by the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, has published and disseminated a delinquency prevention catalog that highlights major Federal programs and offers guidance for communities seeking to plan and implement comprehensive crime prevention strategies. Over the next year, the Prevention Council will work to identify ways to coordinate and integrate existing Federal prevention programs to ensure better collaboration and to maximize their impact on communities.
Suggestions for State and Local Action
- Establish and enhance programs that bring together teachers, school administrators, social service providers, police, juvenile justice practitioners, and citizens.
- Develop partnerships between parks and recreation agencies, libraries, public housing agencies, community centers, and gymnasiums to furnish safe sites for positive activities for youth.
- Advocate volunteerism for mentoring and tutoring programs.
- Develop safe passage community patrols to ensure that youth get to and from school safely.
- Invite parents, law enforcement officers, business leaders, and others into school buildings to provide additional supervision and positive role models.
- Provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to manage their behavior and resolve conflicts in a nonviolent manner.
- Implement developmentally appropriate conflict resolution programs for students at all grade levels.
- Expand existing programs to include artistic and cultural activities, and implement activities designed to promote the values of individual and civic responsibility.
- Implement national service initiatives at the local level to provide youth with opportunities to serve their communities.
- Review and modify personnel policies in the private sector to encourage employees to serve as community volunteers with youth.
- Increase funding for youth employment and training programs.
- Review allocation of funding to ensure equitable distribution of resources for delinquency prevention programs in schools.
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Contents | Foreword | Acknowledgments | Introduction | Summary
Figures | Objectives | Conclusion | Appendixes