The effects of self-control programs with young people to reduce delinquency.

This systematic review evaluates the research on the effectiveness of programs designed to improve self-control up to age 10 among children and adolescents, and assesses the effects of these programs on self-control and delinquency/crime.

Most studies were of sufficient quality because they used a research design involving random assignment. Self-control programs improve a child / adoles-cent’s self-control and lead to reductions in delinquency. But outcomes were only examined during a certain period of the life course (before age 10/12); therefore, it would be worthwhile to examine if the effec-tiveness of self-control improvement programs persists over time, particularly into late adolescence and early adulthood. It is not clear how these efforts may/may not improve outcomes in other life-course domains (e.g., improve academic performance). Research has shown that childrearing practices and socialization influences are affected by neighborhood context. Future studies should make efforts to measure the relative costs and benefits of interven-tions such as these across a variety of life course domains. Interventions aimed at improving socialization and child-rearing practices (which produce more self-control) in the first decade of life offer benefits for the improvement of self-control as well as the reduction of delin-quency/crime. Investment in these sorts of efforts should be an important part of the policy response, especially because self-control is malleable and responsive to external sources of socialization. The editors concluded that such efforts should serve as successful exemplars that warrant replication and extension all the while recognizing that scaling these programs up may not be as effective as keeping them narrow and targeted.

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