NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Getting Children On The Right Track Early

March 16, 1999

A 12-year study has demonstrated that involving children in their schools and fostering an interest in learning can reduce violence, drug abuse and pregnancy later, according to the researchers. The key is to start early -- in grades one through six.

The study involved students from schools in Seattle's most crime- ridden neighborhoods. Some schools got the intervention program designed for the study, while other comparable schools did not.

The study, published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, concluded:

  • Coaching teachers and parents on how best to encourage young children's involvement and interest in school and teaching the children how to interact socially can have a significant long-term affect on their behavior and academic achievement.
  • Students who received the elementary school intervention program were 19 percent less likely to have committed violent acts by age 18 -- than those who did not, were 38 percent less likely to indulge in heavy drinking, and were 13 percent less likely to indulge in sexual intercourse.
  • Also, students in the early intervention schools were 19 percent less likely to have had multiple sexual partners, and 35 percent less likely to have caused a pregnancy or to have become pregnant.
  • Students who attended the schools with intervention programs also were more likely to stay in school and achieve higher grades -- although there was not significant impact on their experimentation with drugs or cigarettes.

Source: Jane E. Brody, "Earlier Work With Children Steers Them From Crime," New York Times, March 15, 1999.


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