“The conversion of scientific knowledge about juvenile delinquency to actual policy and practice has been dreadfully slow and even stalled at times. Criminological research consistently links such factors as delinquent peer affiliations, neglectful parental supervision, low school achievement, and adolescent substance abuse to juvenile delinquency, and juvenile delinquency itself is a risk factor for adult criminality. Despite this robust knowledge base, however, recent developments in crime-control policy often look strikingly like old developments. Tougher sentencing laws, expanding police departments, and construction of more prisons are promoted, supported and funded over proven evidence-based interventions.” (Greenwood as stated in Theriot, 2006)
Many experts in the field of child development are of the view that a large percentage of troubled youths have a poor sense of connection to the communities in which they live and their role in that community. In contrast, youths who are well integrated and assimilated into their community display a better understanding of their own value and role, and as a result “are less likely to become delinquent or to exhibit a host of other behavioral problems” (Calhoun & O’Neil, 2001, p.92)
It is a well-established fact that many of the detainees in juvenile centers have a tendency to repeat their crimes once they are let out. This again shows the inadequacy of the educational program given to them during their detention. When we talk of juvenile crime prevention, it includes the prevention of repetition of crime as well. There are already institutions in place which conduct educational programs for children from high-risk demographic groups. The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) is one such organization and the reports published by them show promising results. For example, the NCPC report states tha there is substantial evidence that juvenile offenders can learn to connect with the broader community. The report also sttates that “those in the juvenile justice system can learn in ways that enable them rather than label them, help these offenders see their strengths, and understand the effects and consequences of their actions” (Calhoun & O’Neil, 2001, p.93). These findings are concurred by independent reviewers as well.
Hence, it is no more a question of what educational programs to device but how to effectively implement it. The two new programs initiated by the NCPC have also proved successful. These are Youth as Resources (YAR) and Teen, Crime and the Community (TCC). The aim of these two programs is to help troubled and high-risk youths in a variety of ways. Local newspapers and radio stations have praised the YAR program for providing financial grants for “ building day care playgrounds, conducting home security surveys for older residents, and designing and creating nature trails for people with disabilities and completing projects that met local needs” (Onwudiwe, 2004, p.154). The TCC program has worked with students in “beautifying schools and neighborhoods, teaching date rape prevention, running conflict-resolution programs and eliminating graffiti” (Onwudiwe, 2004, p.154).