There are three primary approaches to delinquency prevention, prevention, intervention and suppression. Prevention is a concept that has been in place for over 75 years. It was during “the 1930s preventive attempts begin to incorporate some of the techniques that are popular today. For example, the use of community boards in the development of interventions was pioneered in Chicago neighborhoods (Sechrest, 1970) and a multimodal preventive intervention program began to be employed in "high risk" neighborhoods in Boston” (Eddy, Reid & Fetrow, 2000, p.
165). Prevention programs incorporate strategies that are aimed to discourage youths from joining gangs by educating and offering alternative activities in low income neighborhoods. A very effective prevention program is “Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT), a multimodal prevention program targeting the antecedents of youth delinquency and violence and designed for use in elementary school settings.
The LIFT comprised three components: (a) a classroom-based child social and problem skills training component, (b) a playground-based behavior modification component, and (c) a group-delivered parent training component” (Eddy, Reid & Fetrow, 2000, p. 165). The LIFT program is effective because it relies heavily on the coercion theory of behavioral reinforcement. “In coercion theory, the key mechanism hypothesized to drive the development of child problem behaviors is negative reinforcement.
“Negative reinforcement" is the association of certain behaviors with the termination or delay of aversive situations, such as a person hitting the "snooze" button when his or her alarm rings in the morning. In contrast, the more familiar "positive reinforcement" or reward paradigm is the association of certain behaviors with a preferred occurrence or situation, such as a child receiving a piece of candy with lunch because he did not fight with his sister in the car on the way to school.
In either reinforcement situation, over time, the behaviors that are most effective at leading to the desired outcome in a given situation become the most likely to occur when that situation occurs (e. g. , alarm rings [right arrow] button pressed [right arrow] alarm off)” (Eddy, Reid & Fetrow, 2000, p. 165). Kids at Hope is another successful program that was started in partnership with YMCA’s and is an after school program for youth.
“Kids at Hope is committed to optimism and to the transmission of these critical elements to all youths through (1) the training of educators, (2) the development of educational materials and activities based on youth development research, and (3) the evaluation of the Kids at Hope program as implemented by schools across the country and in Canada. The Kids at Hope philosophy believes that youth programs are about child promotion, not prevention, and that all children have value” (Tipps, 2006).
Kids at Hope also incorporated the help of law enforcement agencies to develop their programs and speak with participants. The philosophy of Kids at Hope is one aspect that sets it apart from other programs. Incorporating new “strategies that acknowledge all children's talents must be developed. It is time to effectively share with children the principle that, although scholastic success is important to succeed in life, emotional and moral successes are equally as important.
These strategies are founded on a belief system that states that all children are capable of success–no exceptions! This belief system is strengthened when it is supported by a culture that is prepared to engender the concept of hope from one generation to the next” (Tipps, 2006) Intervention occurs to redirect youth who have or may have participated in crime. Alternatives are very similar to those of prevention and often times well structured prevention programs are enough to encourage good behavior through after school programs.