In 1985, the Teens, Crime, and the Community and Community Works (TCC/CW) program, a collaborative effort by the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and Street Law, Inc., was developed in an effort to reduce adolescent victimization. The TCC/CW program received congressionally mandated funding from 1985 through 2008. The program utilized a "risk- and protective-factor" approach and consisted of three components:
- A 31-lesson interactive curriculum dealing with such topics as conflict management, police and the community, handgun violence, hate crimes, substance abuse, and victimization.
- Community Resource People (CRP), experts such as police officers, lawyers, counselors, and community volunteers who share information and experiences with the students and also serve as potential role models, and who assist in the delivery of the program.
- "Action" or service learning projects that allow teens to apply what they have learned.
The purpose of the study was to assess whether the TCC/CW program was successfully implemented and whether it achieved its desired outcome, namely to reduce adolescent victimization. Specifically, the study sought to address three primary questions:
- Is program participation associated with a reduction in known risk factors (i.e., association with delinquent peers, risk-seeking, lack of commitment to school, etc.)?
- Are offending and victimization rates lower among the program participants than among the comparison students?
- Given differential program fidelity, are program effects detectable in those schools meeting minimal standards of program fidelity?
Following an extensive effort to identify potential sites for inclusion in the Teens, Crime, and the Community and Community Works (TCC/CW) outcome evaluation, a quasi-experimental five-wave panel study of public school students was initiated in the fall of 2004. Classrooms in the sample were matched by teacher or subject and one-half of the classrooms received TCC/CW while the other half (the control group) was not exposed to the curriculum. All students in the selected classrooms were asked to participate in the evaluation and active consent letters were distributed to all students.
The researchers recruited teachers to assist in the process. Teachers were paid $2.00 for every consent form collected (whether affirmative or refusal) plus a bonus of $10 if their classroom exceeded 70 percent, $20 if it exceeded 80 percent, and $30 if it exceeded 90 percent. In addition, students were provided an incentive for returning the consent forms (e.g., different types of key chains and different colored lanyards).
However, after a preliminary analysis of the acquired data and discussions with program managers from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the outcome evaluation was abbreviated at three waves of outcome data rather than the planned five waves. A total of 1,686 students representing 98 classrooms in 15 middle schools located in 9 cities in 4 different states were surveyed 3 times: pre-tests in Fall 2004 (Part 1), post-tests in Spring 2005 (Part 2), and through a one-year follow-up survey in Fall 2005 (Part 3). The three waves of student questionnaires measured program goals and objectives, implied risk, protective factors, demographic characteristics of the students, as well as attitudinal and behavioral measures.
A purposive sample of schools was selected for inclusion in the evaluation; only schools offering the Teens, Crime, and the Community and Community Works (TCC/CW) program were eligible for inclusion. The following steps were then taken to select a final sample for the study:
- More than 250 schools identified as offering the Community Works program were contacted.
- A total of 18 schools met the evaluation criteria (i.e., confirmation that the program was actually being taught in its entirety, a sufficient number of classes to allow for matching of treatment and comparison groups while also being cost-effective in terms of travel to the school for data collection, a willingness to withhold the program from some classes, and agreement to adhere to the evaluation design).
- The contact person was re-contacted at each eligible site and if the program delivery met the evaluation design criteria and the program providers agreed to adhere to the design (classroom matching, pre-and post-tests with a follow-up survey) then the principal was contacted.
- With agreement and support from the principal, the school district research and evaluation office (or comparable official) was contacted and proposals were submitted.
- Three schools declined the opportunity to participate.
- A total of 15 schools agreed to the evaluation design and participated in the outcome evaluation.
The 15 schools participating in the outcome evaluation were concentrated in the Southwest with 9 schools in Arizona and one in New Mexico. The remaining five schools were in South Carolina (three schools) and Massachusetts (two schools). Classrooms were selected based upon the grade in which the program was taught (ranging from sixth to ninth grade). Grade-level classrooms were matched by teacher. All students in the selected classrooms were asked to participate in the evaluation and active consent letters were distributed to all students. Further, due to the nature of the study, active parental consent was required before students could participate in the evaluation, resulting in an initial loss rate of 28 percent. Specifically, 12 percent of this initial loss was due to active parental refusals, while another 16 percent was due to the failure of eligible students to return consent forms. The final sample includes a total of 1,686 students representing 98 classrooms in 15 middle schools located in 9 cities in 4 different states.
All students enrolled in a Community Works classroom or a comparison classroom in Fall 2004 (Part 1), Spring 2005 (Part 2), or Fall 2005 (Part 3) in Arizona, Massachusetts, New Mexico, or South Carolina.
Pre-test student questionnaire administered in Fall 2004 (Part 1), post-test student questionnaires administered in Spring 2005 (Part 2), and the one-year follow-up student questionnaire administered in Fall 2005 (Part 3).
A total of 227 variables are included in Part 1, 297 in Part 2, and 290 in Part 3. Most of these variables are the same across waves, including demographic variables such as sex, race, age, birthplace, living status, and the education level of parents. Variables also measure whether the students are involved in extracurricular and other school related activities, community service, religious activities, family activities, employment, or illegal activities and crime. Other variables measure the students' views regarding bullying, schoolwork, school and neighborhood violence, property crimes, drug use, alcohol use, gun violence, vandalism, skipping school, inter-racial tensions, neighborhood poverty, and law-enforcement officers. Further, some variables also measure how students react to anger, risk, conflict with fellow students, and how they handle long-term versus short-term decision-making. Variables also measure group dynamics, including whether students consider themselves to be part of a gang, the age-range and racial makeup of the group, and the activities that the group undertakes. Other variables also measure students' self-esteem, including perception of self-worth, intelligence, and future prospects for success. Finally, variables also measure students' awareness of resources in their respective school and neighborhood to address problems and provide support.
The active parental consent for the study was 72 percent. The completion rate for the pre-tests was 96 percent, for the post-tests 89 percent, and for the one-year follow-up 72 percent.
Several Likert-type scales were used.