Saving Children from a Life of Crime: Early Risk Factors and Effective Interventions

Saving Children from a Life of Crime: Early Risk Factors and Effective Interventions

Saving Children from a Life of Crime: Early Risk Factors and Effective Interventions

Saving Children from a Life of Crime: Early Risk Factors and Effective Interventions

Synopsis

After decades of rigorous study in the United States and across the Western world, a great deal is known about the early risk factors for offending. High impulsiveness, low attainment, criminal parents, parental conflict, and growing up in a deprived, high-crime neighborhood are among the most important factors. There is also a growing body of high quality scientific evidence on the effectiveness of early prevention programs designed to prevent children from embarking on a life of crime.

Drawing on the latest evidence, Saving Children from a Life of Crime is the first book to assess the early causes of offending and what works best to prevent it. Preschool intellectual enrichment, child skills training, parent management training, and home visiting programs are among the most effective early prevention programs. Criminologists David Farrington and Brandon Welsh also outline a policy strategy--early prevention--that uses this current research knowledge and brings into sharper focus what America's national crime fighting priority ought to be.

At a time when unacceptable crime levels in America, rising criminal justice costs, and a punitive crime policy have spurred a growing interest in the early prevention of delinquency, Farrington and Welsh here lay the groundwork for change with a comprehensive national prevention strategy to save children from a life of crime.

Excerpt

Many people think that preventing crime is easy and should be our main goal; many others think it is impossible and should be ignored in favor of deterrence. Both groups are wrong. As David Farrington and Brandon Welsh make clear in this book, preventing crime is possible but not easy.

People who want to prevent crime often suppose that the root causes of crime are things that can be easily fixed, such as high unemployment rates or bad schools. In fact, reducing unemployment and improving schools, though eminently worthwhile things to do, are very hard tasks. But what is more important is that most of the root causes of crime are not these social issues but deeply ingrained features of the human personality and its early experiences.

Low intelligence, an impulsive personality, and a lack of empathy for other people are among the leading individual characteristics of people at risk for becoming offenders. And if these youngsters are raised in weak or abusive families, or broken and discordant ones, the risk of becoming an offender goes up. And if these families have very low incomes, live in a socially deprived area, and send their children to schools where many delinquents are found, the risks rise even higher.

Given these problems, it would be easy to abandon any hope of preventing crime. We have no way of increasing intelligence, can only with . . .

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