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Prevention: Juveniles as Potential Offenders - Early Intervention

program home parental programs

In the 1960s, the Perry Preschool program combined weekly home visits by teachers with early education for disadvantaged African American children. Evaluations showed that program benefits (such as increased tax revenues and reduced social service and criminal justice expenditures) significantly outweighed program costs. Students enrolled in the program were 12 percent less likely to be arrested than the control group, with an average reduction of 2.3 arrests per student (Karoly et al., p. 139).

These findings and research on brain development in early childhood have spurred subsequent interventions with young children. For prevention researchers, early childhood provides a "window of opportunity" for intervention, as well as a "window of vulnerability" to poverty and dysfunctional homes (Karoly et al., p. xi). Strategies such as preschool programs, home visits, and parental training have all shown promise. Randomized evaluations of nurse home-visit programs show significant reductions in delinquency (Olds, Hill, and Rumsey). Family therapy with parental training may also be an effective early intervention, at comparatively low cost (Zigler, Taussig, and Black).

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