Childhood Crime Intervention Prevention Term Paper

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¶ … programs that are aimed at reducing crime by using early childhood crime prevention programs. One of the most significant studies in recent history was the "Perry Study out of Ypsilanti, MI." That research exposed the very real and tangible benefits of early childhood education for poverty stricken students as an element to prevent them from becoming criminals as they got older. The study proved to be the catalyst for the nationwide Head Start program and is still referred to today to obtain government funding for preschool programs.

For many years Americans viewed children who were raised in poverty stricken areas as high risk for later becoming criminals. People would shake their heads and pity the tiny children as they played on city playgrounds but were sure that those children would someday enter the system of criminal justice. While statistically their predictions would bear out for many years, few people addressed what might be done to turn the potential around and create positive, contributing members of society out of those children.

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A study conducted several decades ago has recently put the nation on notice regarding these "throw away children." The High/Scope Perry Pre-School study found that children who were allowed to attend early education programs were far less likely to participate in criminal activities later in their life. In addition it found that there was a significant increase in homeownership and high school graduates among those who received educations as preschool children during the study as those who did not (Study, 2005). Finally the study concluded that for those who were given early childhood educations there were fewer arrests and a reduced level of drug use within the study group than was found in the regular population. These findings validated the hypothesis from years ago, that children given the opportunity for early education are far less likely to become burdens on society when they become adults (Study, 2005).

THE STUDY

Evidence is very strong that high quality daycares that provide preschool education produce long-term positive outcomes.

Term Paper on Childhood Crime Intervention Prevention Assignment

There have been three major studies undertaken to test this theory with the "grandfather" of those studies being the High/Scope Perry Preschool Project.

The study drew participants from African-American children residing in Ypsilanti, Michigan whose parents had applied to have their children included in attendance of a program. The participants were placed into two groups, those children who would attend and those who would not attend. Random assignment and the effort to not let teachers of later schools know which of their students were in the program and out of those which had attended and which had not attended the preschool helped to protect the purity and validity of the study (Stellar, 2003).

Random assignment eliminates any systematic bias between the groups, although it cannot guarantee that they will be the same. By keeping the information on group assignment confidential, the experimenters sought to minimize any kind of Pygmalion effects stemming from expectations about the children who had been in preschool and those who had not. Few preschool programs existed at the time, and children in the control group remained at home (Stellar, 2003)."

The parents of the children who were participants had an average education base of ninth grade fourth month completion with 20% of the parents holding high school diplomas. This was in comparison to 33% of all African-Americans holding high school diplomas. This underscores the fact that the participants of the program were coming from disadvantaged environments.

The children who attended the preschool went for eight months for half a day five days a week.

The first group of students in the program received a total of one year preschool education however, following that first year each group entering the program received two years of preschool education (Stellar, 2003).

The project staff visited each child's home for 90 minutes a week throughout the child's preschool experience (Stellar, 2003).

The vision of childhood underlying the High/Scope Program was shaped by Piaget and other theorists who viewed children as active learners. Teachers asked questions that allowed children to generate conversations with them. Those who developed the program isolated 10 categories of preschool experience that they deemed important for developing children: creative representation, language and literacy, social relations and personal initiative, movement, music, classification, seriation (creating series and patterns), number, space, and time. Children participated in individual, small- and large- group activities. The curriculum and instruction flowed from both constructivist and cognitive/developmental approaches (Stellar, 2003)."

One of the primary differences between this program and the other programs available at the time was that teachers in this study rarely performed assessments on the children's specific knowledge, nor was rapid fire drill or direct instruction used to impart the curriculum. Students were encouraged to develop self-learning skills through natural curiosity and available environments for learning.

The study then followed the participants progress and when they reached ages 10, 19 and 27 they participated in addition studies to determine their life paths and accomplishments as weighed against those children in the study that were not provided the preschool educations.

It was found that those who had participated in the preschool program had a higher educational achievement rate at the age of 19 than those who had not received the preschool program.

The preschoolers also had higher scores on the Adult Performance Level Survey, a test from the American College Testing Program that simulates real-life problem situations (Stellar, 2003). "

At the age of 27 the participants were again contacted and evaluated to see if there were measurable differences in the lifestyles of those who had participated in the preschool and those participants who had not.

By the time the two groups turned 27, 71% of the preschool group had earned high school diplomas or GEDs, compared to 54% of the control group. The preschoolers also earned more, were more likely to own their own homes, and had longer and more stable marriages. Members of the control group were arrested twice as often, and five times as many members of the control group (35%) had been arrested five or more times (Stellar, 2003)."

Program Outcomes (http://www.ncjrs.gov/html/ojjdp/2000_10_1/page2.html)

In the effort to study the impact on crime that preschool programs have the study also examined the incidence of delinquency among students who received the preschool opportunity and those who did not.

Data was collected from the local law enforcement offices and agencies and indicated that the rate of juvenile delinquency was much lower among the children who had preschool experiences as part of their participation in the program (Program Outcomes (http://www.ncjrs.gov/html/ojjdp/2000_10_1/page2.html).

These results can be extrapolated to indicate that children who receive early childhood educations are less inclined to become involved in criminal activity as teenagers and as adults. In addition they are more successful on personal and education levels than those who do not receive early childhood educations therefore they have higher self-esteem and are not as inclined to get involved with drugs and substance abuse.

The study results were so powerful and convincing that it has been credited with providing support to government budget issues to fund Head Start preschool programs throughout the nation (Epstein, 1999).

Since the study was conducted and the results were made available for viewing, the American public has become extremely supportive of funding programs such as Head Start that will provide preschool educations for those children who are being raised in economically disadvantaged families.

The key aspects of this program study included the fact that the participants came from underprivileged family environments, the long-term follow up that illustrated the long-term impact that a preschool program could have on an individual's outcome, the study also provided data that could be used to determine what a cost savings the use of government funded preschool programs could provide for the taxpayers of the nation over the long haul.

Often times the public has a hard time seeing the forest for the trees and will only look at the short-term outcome or the immediate affects. This study took the time to study and report what would happen if taxpayers through the support of their legislators were willing to fund early childhood education for those children who would otherwise not be able to afford it. The key element was not the fact that those children would benefit but the idea that those children would grow up to become positive members of society making positive contributions to their communities.

The control group had a much higher incidence of high school drop outs, arrests both as juveniles and as adults and landing on the welfare doles. All of this turns into a drain on the nation's economy. Therefore the study actually illustrates the benefit to American taxpayers for providing the government funded preschool programs such as Head Start.

CONCLUSION

The study launched a nationwide support of government funded preschools which in turn are producing students who go on to become productive members of society. The program and study have underscored the importance of early childhood education and provided a… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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