Crime Prevention Program
The present economic crisis has caused administrations at all levels to revise their tactics in fighting delinquency. Over the past years, investigators have identified intervention schemes and program models that decrease criminal activities and encourage pro-social progress. Preventing crime hinders the start of adult criminal career and protects young lives from being fruitless, reducing the problem of offenses affecting victims and the general public. School dropouts and early pregnancies are some of the causes of criminal behavior. Saving the youth from misbehaving protects them from wasted lives. A reduction in incomes of local administrations obliges them to prioritize programs considering their usefulness and cost efficiency. There is pressure on the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) to prove that valued programs reduce crime effectively. The paper seeks to discuss and prove the usefulness of the School Transitional Environment Project (STEP) in preventing youngsters from committing crimes and criminological theories behind the program. Such investigation and assessment allow financing of the project to continue by proving its success.
Background and Objectives
The School Transitional Environment Project (STEP) was founded in 1989 by academics at the University of Illinois and was sponsored through donations from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The STEP is intended to improve the familiarity of students with the implementation of school changes and the reorganization of the school setting. It aims to ease the density of the school environment, upsurge peer and teacher supervision, and reduce student vulnerability to educational and emotive challenges by decreasing school complexity and reformatting the duty of the homeroom tutor. It particularly targets students with the highest risk of misbehaving leading to crimes (Felner & Adan, 2003). All STEP schoolchildren are gathered in homerooms where educators assume an extra duty of a guidance counselor. STEP students are allocated identical main lessons. Assessments have confirmed reduced nonattendance and dropout levels, improved academic achievements, and more optimistic attitudes to school. The Surgeon General considers the STEP a hopeful program like other blueprints (Feiner et al., 1994).
Factors Targeted by the STEP
The School Transitional Environment Project is grounded on the theory, whereby youngsters experience higher risks of adverse effects during usual transitional life happenings such as turning from children to teenagers. This amplified risk is a result of sharp complexity and developing needs of a different situation, and the school’s incapacity to deliver the required support, resources and info for learners to switch effectively. The STEP pursues organizational and natural modifications in the school setting to make changes less intimidating and troublesome, and to create a reassuring atmosphere at school (Felner & Adan, 2003).
Evidence of STEP Success
Generally, results showed that STEP students had augmented optimistic feelings toward the school atmosphere and better school performance than non-STEP schoolchildren. Four examination studies on the STEP are described below. The first investigation was carried out in a large, city high school where learners who participated in the program were mostly from families with a low social economic status and/or marginal backgrounds. Outcomes indicated that the STEP assisted in a short-term social and educational modification in addition to promoting academic performance, attendance, and self-conception. STEP students understood the school setting as more stable, reasonable, and well-ordered than non-STEP learners (Felner & Adan, 2003).
A complement research was carried out five years later. Students’ school records were used to get statistics concerning their improvement following the program. Students who took part in the STEP revealed abiding effects in the area of improved academic achievement and attendance. This investigation also revealed that learners who had been involved in the STEP were less likely to drop out of school than a comparative group of non-STEP learners (Felner & Adan, 2003).
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The third study applied the STEP model in two high schools and three junior schools serving rural and urban populations. Their social economic status was primarily the lower-middle class. This study expanded the prospect of results by looking at indices of depression, self-perception, grades, crime, drug abuse, and test scores. Investigators found that STEP learners were more likely to avoid extensive deterioration in grades and self-concept and were less expected to demonstrate behavioral or emotional glitches, which could possibly lead them to committing crimes (Felner & Adan, 2003).
The fourth research was a two-year analysis examining effects on students joining high school together with those coming to junior school. The study represented a wide range of demographic, geographic, and structural characteristics. Students receiving special education were not included in the research. Outcomes showed that learners who took part in the program seemed better accustomed and showed better academic performance as opposed to non-STEP learners. STEP students showed lower transition anxiety as well as better adaptation and attitudes to school and family and measures of overall self-confidence. Indices of sadness, nervousness, and criminal behavior were also lower among STEP learners. Grades and attendance were higher among the latter than among non-STEP partakers. Both learners and instructors felt more contented in the school atmosphere through their involvement in the STEP and the lesser community formed within a bigger high school. Schoolchildren felt more cared for engaging in a more casual interaction with their group members of the STEP (Felner & Adan, 2003).
Every member of the public is responsible for ensuring that the environment is favorable for children in order to prevent them from committing crimes. Criminology theories explain diverse motives why individuals commit crimes. From misbehavior to violent offenses, some people get involved in the system of criminal justice and get their experience that makes them not engage in criminal behavior again. Unfortunately, others become repeated lawbreakers with an everlasting rap sheet. The environment evidently plays a big role but it is simply one of the countless factors. By understanding the reason why an individual commits a delinquency, one can come up with ways to prevent crimes from happening (Tania, 2014). There are numerous theories in criminology, but there are several behind the School Transitional Environment Project.
The labeling theory states that deviant behavior is not intrinsic part of an action, but instead emphasizes the propensity of majorities to brand minorities or individuals seen as different from normal traditional norms. According to Tania (2014), the theory was protuberant in the 1960s and 1970s, and several adapted forms of this approach have emerged and are still popular in the present time. Undesirable categorization or descriptors may be forbidden with efforts to adopt a more positive language instead since they are just “labels.” A disgrace is defined as a strongly harmful label that alters person’s self-esteem and social character. In the STEP, parents are advised not to use negative words when addressing youngsters because kids may engage in criminal activities as a way of proving their relevance. Parents are encouraged to use positive words, which make teenagers feel more wanted and cared for. It prevents them from committing a crime (Felner & Adan, 2003).
Life Course Theory
The life course philosophy was established as a way to evaluate and investigate grassroots’ lives in cultural, social and structural settings. It investigates the person’s past, for instance, how early occasions affect future judgments and happenings, such as a divorce or disease occurrence. The life course concept stresses the linkage between private lives and the socioeconomic and historical background (Tania, 2014). These happenings and roles do not automatically continue in a given series, but reasonably create the overall person’s real experience. Consequentially, happenings in one’s life shape his or her character and the inclination towards or against committing a crime in the end. The STEP ensures that the learners’ environment is favorable. STEP teachers encourage students to face life challenges (such as illnesses) with courage. They also plead with parents to ensure that they create a favorable environment for youngsters at home (Felner & Adan, 2003).
The positivist theory opposes the notion that every person makes a rational and conscious decision to commit an offense, but reasonably often, some people have low social acceptance or intelligence and that makes them commit a crime. The theory is based on the suggestion that a person who breaks the law cannot honestly understand the wrongfulness of his or her activities just as people with normal intelligence or who are generally accepted. Their minds are not natural and therefore do not have the ability to make a rational, conscious decision to observe the law (Tania, 2014). The STEP has some strategies that ensure that students do not engage in some sort of bullying, which can lead to an injury or death of a bullied peer. In the STEP, learners are grouped according to their age, which ensures that older students are separated from younger ones (Felner & Adan, 2003). It prevents crimes related to bullying from happening.
Routine Activity Theory
Supporters of the routine activity philosophy believe that delinquency is unavoidable, and if an objective is pleasing enough, it will take place. Therefore, effective measures (such as the STEP) must be taken to prevent crimes. As stated by Tania (2014), the effect of poverty on the possibility of crime is neither a new phenomenon nor a secret. For instance, if there is no adequate amount of food for children to eat, youngsters may be tempted to go and steal from their neighbors. The STEP urges parents to ensure that kids have enough food at home. The program has also introduced various methods to provide children with social undertakings in order to give them a substitute to a life of crime (Felner & Adan, 2003).
Social Control Theory
Philosophers trust that it is the responsibility of the public to uphold a certain degree of determination and influence person’s life positively, as well as make instructions and duties clear, and to generate other tasks to prevent criminal behaviors. In the STEP, teachers take up the role of a counselor. They provide guidance and counseling to the student on how to live a positive life. The STEP encourages higher academic performance of learners assuring them of a better future ahead (Felner & Adan, 2003).
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From the results of the research, it can be concluded that the School Transition Environment Project is a successful program for preventing criminal behavior patterns. Youngsters are guided to have good morals, high performance in class and high self-esteem. It in turn saves the lives of teenagers from being wasted and prevents them from committing crimes. Moreover, as part of the STEP, counselling does not only help to solve the problem of crime at an individual level, but also parents are also involved to be responsible for their children. Each philosophy has its own base to clarify why persons commit crimes. The theories behind the program analyzed above help to determine necessary approaches to decreasing delinquency rates among children. However, it is the responsibility of each and every member of the public to ensure that the environment is favorable for youngsters in order to prevent them from committing crimes.