This is a summary of the National Study of Delinquency Prevention in Schools, which was conducted to develop a comprehensive account of the levels of problem behavior in U.S. schools and to determine what schools are doing to prevent problem behavior and promote a safe and orderly environment.
The study was designed for an analysis of the following categories of factors that may explain the effective implementation of school delinquency-prevention programs: organizational capacity; leadership and staff traits and past accomplishments; budget and resources; organizational support; program structure; integration into normal school operation, local initiation, and local planning; program feasibility; and level of disorder. The research obtained examples of prevention and intervention models being used in schools and developed a comprehensive taxonomy of activities and surveyed school principals in a national probability sample of schools, individuals knowledgeable about prevention activities in each school, and teachers and students in participating schools. The study found that minor forms of problem behavior were common in schools. Serious forms of problem behavior -- such as physical attacks or fights that involved a weapon, robberies, or threats that involved a knife or a gun -- occurred less often, but often enough to pose a major problem. Large percentages of schools used interventions that focused on students, and large percentages also used organizational or environment arrangements. The former included curriculum and instruction, counseling, behavioral programs, and recreation. Among the latter were the reorganization of grades or schedules, architectural features, instructional or classroom management practices, and planning processes. Just over half of schools (55 percent) had explicit security or surveillance programs. Six major recommendations include monitoring levels of problem behavior in schools through annual surveys of students and teachers, conducting research on the broad range of activities being undertaken by schools, using a broader range of rewards and sanctions by school administrators, an emphasis on the quality of program implementation, improvement in the amount and quality of training and supervision for school personnel, and the use of organization development as a necessary first step in the process of developing more effective prevention programming in some schools. 19 notes and 9 tables
Date Published: January 1, 2000
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