The United States justice system is overloaded with juveniles who have committed violent crimes. While there are many programs designed to rehabilitate teenagers, other programs are trying to prevent youth crimes from happening in the first place. These school-based violence prevention programs have been proven effective at reducing violence, truancy, drug abuse, and delinquency. Created: 8/20/2007 by MMWR.
Date Released: 10/5/2007. Series Name: A Cup of Health with CDC.
A CUP OF HEALTH WITH CDC
Reducing Youth Crime
The Effectiveness of Universal School-Based Programs for the Prevention of
Violent and Aggressive Behavior: A Report on Recommendations of the Task
Force on Community Preventive Services
October 5, 2007
[Announcer] This podcast is presented by the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention. CDC – safer,
[Matthew Reynolds] Welcome to A Cup of Health with CDC, a
weekly broadcast of the
MMWR, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. I’m your host, Matthew
The United States justice system is overloaded with juveniles who have committed
violent crimes. While there are many programs designed to rehabilitate teenagers,
programs are trying to prevent youth crimes from happening in the first place.
Robert Hahn, from CDC's Guide to Community Preventive Services, was part of
that studied many violence prevention programs used in schools throughout the
He’s here to tell us about that investigation and what the CDC recommends
these programs. Welcome to the show, Dr. Hahn.
[Dr. Hahn] Thank you. Good to be here.
[Matthew Reynolds] Your report sheds some light on some troubling
statistics. For every
hundred teenagers, four crimes are committed. And so we’re clear, you’re
these ages as between 12 and 20 years. What types of crimes are you seeing and
are the victims?
[Dr. Hahn] About two-thirds of these crimes are what are
called simple assaults. They
require two or fewer days of hospitalization for the victim. One-third are more
crimes. They are referred to as aggravated assaults and they include also rape
robbery. The victims can be of any age but many of the victims are juveniles
[Matthew Reynolds] So, how do those numbers compare to teenage
crimes in other
[Dr. Hahn] Well, if you look at the more severe crimes, take
the case of homicide, the
World Health Organization has compared a number of high income nations. The
has the highest rate of homicides among these nations for young people between
ages of 10 and 29. The U.S. rate is 6 times that of the rate of the next highest
which is New Zealand.
[Matthew Reynolds] Some schools have rolled out violence
prevention programs as a
way of curbing the youth crime you just described. Before you weigh in with
they’re effective, describe these programs. What’s involved?
[Dr. Hahn] The programs that we looked at are universal programs.
So they are given to
all kids in the classroom and/or school. They look at different kinds of things.
on different kinds of aspects of violence. Some of them just teach about the
violence and alternative solutions. Some of them work with skills development.
example, teaching kids how to resolve conflicts and difficulties among kids.
programs change the school environment and many of these programs combine
different levels of interventions.
[Matthew Reynolds] Based on your investigation, are these
[Dr. Hahn] Fortunately, we found that these programs are
effective for all grade levels.
We looked at children from pre-K educational programs through high school. And
average, these programs reduce violent and aggressive behavior by about 15 percent.
In addition, there were other benefits. For example, they improve the school
environment, they improve learning, they reduce truancy, and they reduce drug
[Matthew Reynolds] These programs may be effective, but are
they cost effective as
[Dr. Hahn] The costs of the programs vary substantially from
about $15 per child per
year to about $200 per child per year. But, while they sound expensive, the
one case in
which they were evaluated in a program called Social Development Project in
found that, for each dollar spent, more than $3 were saved, so that they are
[Matthew Reynolds] Can you talk about the money that’s
saved and how they made that
[Dr. Hahn] They looked at obviously the cost of the programs,
in terms of what was
spent per child, and then they also looked at long term outcomes. For example,
crime that was avoided and the cost of incarceration and the cost, I believe,
children as well, in terms of lost opportunities. So there were substantial
through these programs by the investment initially made in the program.
[Matthew Reynolds] For people that are interested in more
information about this topic
Dr. Hahn, where would you send them?
[Dr. Hahn] We will shortly be posting on our website a summary
of the programs. Our
website is www.thecommunityguide.org. We will also be posting there copies of
which describe our research and our findings.
[Matthew Reynolds] Dr. Hahn, thank you for joining us today.
[Dr. Hahn] A pleasure.
[Matthew Reynolds] That’s it for this week’s
show. Don’t forget to join us next week.
Until then, be well. This is Matthew Reynolds for A Cup of Health with CDC.
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