NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Study Finds Head Start Reduces Crime

July 11, 2001

According to Fight Crime: Invest In Kids, a national anti-crime organization of law-enforcement officials and victims of violent crime, programs such as Head Start, the federally funded preschool program for disadvantaged kids, can reduce crime.

The group released the results of the Chicago Longitudinal Study, conducted over 15 years by Arthur Reynolds of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. According to Reynolds, juvenile crime among inner-city youth is significantly reduced by exposure to school readiness programs from the age of 3.

  • The study found the rate of juvenile arrest was 33 percent lower among children, ages 10 to 17, who participated in Head Start-type programs than for their peers who did not.
  • In addition the arrest rate for violent crimes dropped by 26 percent, and the multiple arrest rate was 38 percent less.
  • The authors of the study conclude that for every 100,000 children served by such programs there is a corresponding drop in crime amounting to 33,000 avoided arrests and the elimination of 13,000 violent offenses.

The Chicago Longitudinal Study is the first long-term research ever conducted of a large-scale early childhood program.

Source: "Anti-Crime Group Releases Study Linking Drop In Crime With Head Start-Type Programs," White House Bulletin, July 9, 2001.


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