JJ/SE Shared Agenda & Tools for Success
Prevention: Home, Community, and School Connections
Levels of Prevention
Prevention Literature Review
(MS Word) (PDF)
Promising Programs and Practices
Prevention: Home, Community, and School Connections
Prevention and Early Intervention
Prevention is a process of intervention designed to alter
the circumstances associated with problem behaviors. Effective prevention
practices decrease problem behaviors and subsequent difficulties
children and adolescents experience in school and in the community.
Prevention includes a wide range of activities that address the
needs of an equally wide range of children and youth.
EDJJ will focus on prevention programs in community settings that
serve troubled youth who have been identified as disabled or are
at-risk of being identified. This population includes children and
youth who have not been involved with the juvenile justice system.
Thus, the focus of prevention is on students served in regular public
schools, alternative school programs, day or residential treatment,
and programs within the juvenile justice system that are established
to divert youth from formal commitment.
There are very few direct causal connections or correlations in
the social sciences. Understanding factors that place children at
risk for school failure and antisocial behavior can help us develop
and implement prevention strategies. However, knowledge of risk
factors is a double-edged sword. Those interested in prevention
must ensure that decisions about childrens needs are based
on objective measures of student performance rather than on stereotypic
profiles. We must use what we know about risk factors to provide
all students with the best chances for success.
A disproportionate number of minority children experience school
failure. This inequity may be due, in part, to the fact that many
of these students come from neighborhoods, cultures, and backgrounds
much different from those of teachers and school administrators.
These children may be treated differently simply because of their
differences. Along with an understanding of risk factors, school
personnel need training in cultural sensitivity to ensure that students
who need assistance receive it. Another risk factor associated with
academic and behavior problems is that many youth who are poor and
racial or ethnic minority attend schools that lack sufficient resources
to provide quality education services.
One of the best predictors of serious problem behavior and school
failure is a history of similar problems. While early
intervention typically connotes actions taken during early childhood,
a more productive definition should include prevention practices
directed at students of all ages, at the first sign of problems.
Thus, early intervention refers to prevention strategies initiated
after one suspension rather than ten, one arrest rather than five,
and one grade level behind in reading rather than three.
Risk Factors - A Cycle of Failure
Childrens homes and families constitute one of the earliest
indicators of potential academic failure. Research has demonstrated
a connection between poverty and school dropout for both regular
and special education students. In addition to poverty, students
at risk often come from families where academic skills such as reading
are not modeled, and where multiple family stressors are present
(e.g., alcohol and other drug abuse, divorce, child maltreatment).
High levels of poverty are also associated with forms of community
social disorganization (e.g., high rate of unemployment, insufficient
resources for after-school programs) that place youth at risk for
school failure and delinquency.
How do risk factors affect a child's life? Home,
community, and school risk factors are connected and negatively
affect outcomes in each of these domains. For example, children
in poverty often have less verbal interaction with their parents,
resulting in significantly lower vocabularies at the time they enter
school (Hart & Risley, 1995). Once in school, they typically
are served by teachers from middle or upper income backgrounds who
use a more complex vocabulary and assume a level of familiarity
with print materials that is far above that of many low income children.
Early academic failures are second only to poverty in predicting
school failure. Thus, through no fault of their own, these students
are academically behind their age peers at the time they first enter
school - and these deficits negatively affect school outcomes.
Students whose behaviors identify them as academically or behaviorally
deficient are more likely to be exposed to negative interaction
and punishment in the classroom and are less likely to be engaged
in instructional time with their teachers. Classroom time for these
students becomes aversive and is highly predictive of behaviors
such as disruption, non-compliance, or aggression that lead to further
negative interactions with teachers and often, eventual exclusion
from school. The seeds of failure are sown early in life; children
who do not read by the fourth grade have a very low probability
of ever learning to read. Moreover, students who fail in
school are far more likely to experience continued problemscontinued
problems in adult life. The justice and welfare systems overwhelmingly
serve individuals who have poorly developed academic skills and
have experienced school failure. Lower levels of literacy are strongly
associated with higher rates of delinquency and incarceration.
Prevention Practices - Breaking the Cycle
Most prevention efforts begin in school because it is the place
where professionals have the greatest, and typically the earliest,
access to children. School-wide efforts to prevent student failure
can be organized under a system of positive behavioral interventions
and support (Sugai et al., 1999) that involves the entire school.
As students with academic or behavioral problems first become evident,
increasingly intensive interventions can be applied in attempt to
facilitate their success.
As more intensive interventions become necessary, the home and
community increasingly become involved in the process. For students
with the greatest needs, interventions involve full and equal collaboration
between school, family, and community agencies to create comprehensive
plans. Interventions that address multiple risk factors in a variety
of settings, rather than those implemented only in a single domain,
are more likely to be successful in preventing delinquency among
youth with intense needs (Catalano, Loeber, & McKinney, 1999).
The intent of all intervention plans under a system of positive
behavior support is to prevent problem behavior by creating success.
A multi-level model of intervention, described in the next section,
addresses the needs of all students in a school.
Systems of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support in Schools
To effectively meet the academic and behavioral needs of all students,
educators must plan and implement interventions on multiple levels.
Furthermore, these interventions must be proactive and positivethat
is, they must focus on clarifying expectations and teaching students
the skills needed for success, rather than simply waiting for misbehavior
to occur and responding with punishment. Decisions regarding which
level of behavioral support to apply to which students are based
on students responses to less intense levels of intervention.
School-wide (universal) prevention systems address all students
evaluating the school environment to determine when, where, and
in what contexts problems are more likely to occur
creating strategies to prevent problems identified by school faculty
teaching all students rules and routines that will support and
encourage desired behavior
regarding inappropriate social behaviors as errors and responding
to these with appropriate correction and re-teaching procedures
establishing behavior support teams to monitor the effectiveness
of prevention strategies
monitoring and evaluating student progress on a formative basis
using data-based decision rules to identify those students whose
or social performance indicates that they are at-risk for school
Research has shown that universal prevention systems are effective
for 90% of the student population. Students who do not respond when
provided with universal supports become eligible for the next level
Individualized (targeted) prevention systems address students
for whom universal intervention has not been effective (as demonstrated
by such data as office discipline referrals) and include:
developing intensive and individualized behavior intervention
plans and other strategies
ensuring that all adults in the school understand what skills
these students are learning so that all settings foster academic
and social success
establishing behavior support teams to develop behavior intervention
plans, monitor student progress, and modify intervention plans as
including effective instructional strategies, functional replacement
training, counseling, and classroom supports in behavior intervention
When appropriately and consistently used, targeted prevention systems
are effective for 7-9% of students. Students who are not successful
with this level of support are eligible for the next level of intervention.
Intensive prevention systems will be needed for 1-3% of students
coordinating input and services from the home, community and
school to develop intervention plans that encompasses multiple life
domains (wraparound planning)
making placement decisions from a continuum of alternatives and
selecting the least restrictive environment in which the student
can reasonably be expected to succeed
incorporating effective instruction, functional replacement training,
counseling, and classroom supports into school-based interventions
monitoring student progress continuously and adjusting intervention
strategies on the basis of data decision rules
What EDJJ Will Do
The Center for Education, Disabilities, and Juvenile Justice (EDJJ)
will conduct, review, and disseminate research on effective prevention
practices. In addition, we will organize training and technical
assistance activities that support efforts to prevent children and
youth - especially those with disabilities - from becoming involved
with the juvenile justice system. Upcoming regional conferences
and training events related to these objectives will be posted on
our web page.
Prevention Strategies References:
Catalano, R. F., Loeber, R., & McKinney, K. C. (October, 1999).
School and community interventions to prevent serious and violent
offending. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Colvin, G., Kameenui, E. J., & Sugai, G. (1993). School-wide
and classroom management: Reconceptualizing the integration and
management of students with behavior problems in general education.
Education and Treatment of Children, 16, 361-381.
Eber, L., Nelson, C. M., & Miles, P. (1997). School-based wraparound
for students with emotional and behavioral challenges. Exceptional
Children, 63, 539-555.
Hart, B., & Risley, T. (1995). Meaningful differences in the
everyday experiences of young American children. Baltimore, MD:
Paul H. Brookes.
Lewis, T. J., Sugai, G., & Colvin, G. (1998). Reducing problem
behavior through a school-wide system of effective behavioral support:
Investigation of a school-wide social skills training program and
contextual interventions. School Psychology Review, 27, 446-459.
Scott, T. M., & Nelson, C. M. (1999). Using functional assessment
with challenging behaviors: Practical School Applications. Journal
of Positive Behavior Interventions, 1, 242-251.
Sherman, L. W., Gottfredson, D. C., MacKenzie, D. L., Eck, J.,
Reuter, P., & Bushway, S. D. (July, 1998). Preventing crime:
What works, what doesnt, whats promising. Washington,
DC: Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.
Sugai, G., Horner, R.H., Dunlap, G., Hieneman, Lewis, T.J., Nelson,
C.M., Scott, T., Liaupsin, C.J., Sailor, W., Turnbull, A.P., Turnbull,
H.R. III, Wickham, D., Ruef, M., Wilcox, B. (1999). Applying
positive behavioral support and functional assessment in schools.
Technical Assistance Guide #1 (TAG 1). Washington, D.C.: OSEP
Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support.
Sugai, G., & Horner, R. H. (1999). Discipline and behavioral
support: Practices, pitfalls, & promises. Effective School
Practices, 17(4), 10-22.
Additional information on positive behavior support
is available on the Internet at www.pbis.org