This report examines a school-based delinquency prevention program that combined an environmental change approach with direct intervention for high-risk youths to reduce delinquent behavior and increase educational attainment. The program involved school stafl students, and community members in planning and implementing a comprehensive school improvement effort; changed disciplinary procedures; and enhanced the school program with activities aimed at increasing achievement and creating a more positive school climate. It also provided services to marginal students designed to increase their self-concepts and success experiences and to strengthen their bonds to the school.
The program brought about a small but measurable reduction in delinquent behavior and misconduct. Students in participating schools were suspended less often, reported fewer punishing experiences in school, and reported less involvement in delinquent and drug-related activities. The environmental interventions apparently decreased delinquency and misconduct by promoting a sense of belonging in and attachment to the school and by improving the general climate and disciplinary practices in the schools. The direct interventions with high-risk students did not reduce delinquent behavior, but did increase commitment to education as indicated by rates of dropout, retention, graduation, and standardized achievement test scores. The evidence supports the conclusion that the program has promise for reducing delinquency and its risk factors for the general population and for improving educational outcomes for high-risk individuals. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.