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Prevention: Juveniles as Potential Offenders - Evaluation

program treatment youths crime

The authors suggest that researchers consider the following questions in evaluating future delinquency prevention efforts.

  1. Did the design randomly assign selection into treatment? If not, the results may be biased because program volunteers may be less delinquent than nonvolunteers.
  2. Did the program target the right population? Its effectiveness may be age-graded or limited to certain groups, such as high-risk families (Karoly et al.).
  3. What outcome is examined? Since few youths are institutionalized, significant program effects on incarceration are unlikely. Other benefits, such as reduced arrest or improved graduation rates, may be more appropriate.
  4. How long is the follow-up observation period? Residential treatments, for example, may only prevent crime while youths are in residence (Mallar et al.).
  5. Was the program fully implemented, or did cost or logistical problems dilute the treatment?
  6. Do researchers have the ethical and legal licenses to intervene? "Predelinquents" have not yet committed crime and even apparently benign treatment could harm them. Conversely, if the treatment is beneficial, how can it be equitably withheld from low-risk children?
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