clear Conclusion

The findings from these studies provide additional evidence that violence is taking an alarming toll on minority communities, particularly urban African-American and Hispanic communities. Recent research indicates that the disproportionate level of violence many urban areas are experiencing stems from a combination of macrolevel risk factors (such as poverty and joblessness) and individual-level risk factors, particularly family disruption (Hawkins et al., 1998). Consequently, there is a need for concentrated prevention efforts in those inner-city neighborhoods that experience the highest levels of juvenile violence. In addition to some of the programs and strategies suggested in this report, it is important to consider strategies that work with families and impact neighborhood disorder whenever possible.

A recent OJJDP Bulletin, Serious and Violent Juvenile Offenders (1998), identifies a number of early intervention programs that have been found to be effective in mediating risk factors associated with serious and violent juvenile offenders. These programs address risk factors in several domains -- child, parent, school, and community. The following is a list of examples of effective interventions (for further details on effective programs, see Serious and Violent Juvenile Offenders: Risk Factors and Successful Interventions (Loeber and Farrington, eds., 1998)):

Bullet Child -- Home visitation of pregnant teenagers, social competence training, peer mediation and conflict resolution, and medical treatment for neurological disorders and mental illness.
Bullet Parent -- Parent management training, functional family therapy, and family preservation.
Bullet School -- Early intellectual enrichment and school organization interventions.
Bullet Community -- Comprehensive community mobilization, situational crime prevention, intensive police patrolling, legal and policy changes restricting availability and use of guns, drugs, and alcohol and mandatory-sentencing laws for crimes involving firearms.

It is important to remember that it will take longer to see an impact from child, parent, and school interventions than from community interventions. The Serious and Violent Juvenile Offenders (1998) Bulletin suggests that the most successful early intervention programs involve simultaneous interventions in multiple domains -- home, school, and community. However, there is a continuing need for further research to determine the effectiveness of these programs on a widespread basis and the combinations of programs that work best.

An additional finding worth noting is that much juvenile violence occurs when there is a group of unsupervised teenagers. Although adolescents cannot and should not be supervised at all times, it is possible to increase the level of supervision in some circumstances, particularly in and around schools. As the DC survey showed, a considerable amount of juvenile violence takes place in or near schools. Schools that experience high levels of violence should look into ways that they can increase the level of structure within the school and maintain a higher degree of adult supervision. The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice recently released a joint report, entitled Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools (1998), which identifies a number of effective violence prevention and intervention activities that schools can implement to increase the level of safety on and around school premises. This guide is a good initial resource for schools looking for ways to reduce juvenile violence.

The overriding message from these studies is that there is a need for a balanced and comprehensive approach to address the problem of juvenile violence. Communities must work with the juvenile justice system to prevent the development of violent behavior and to intervene with violent youth in effective ways. Using precisely this concept, OJJDP's Guide for Implementing the Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders (1995) provides a framework for strategic responses at the community, city, State, and national levels, designed to target the problem of juvenile violence. In 1996, the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention released Combating Violence and Delinquency: The National Juvenile Justice Action Plan (Action Plan), an eight-point statement of objectives and strategies designed to strengthen State and local initiatives to address and reduce the impact of juvenile violence and delinquency. The Action Plan provides model program examples that communities can draw from to address several of the problem areas identified by the Juvenile Violence Research Studies, including reducing youth involvement with guns and gangs and providing more neighborhood-based programs for children and youth.

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Juvenile Violence Research OJJDP Report to Congress