Early Developmental Crime Prevention Forged Through Knowledge Translation: a Window into a Century of Prevention Experiments

Abstract

Purpose

To begin to develop an understanding of knowledge translation of early developmental crime prevention.

Methods

Involves a narrative review of experiments of early developmental prevention with measures of delinquency and criminal offending, and profiles two leading experiments, the Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study (CSYS) and the Montréal Longitudinal-Experimental Study.

Results

While the roots of early developmental crime prevention can be traced to studies of human development, experiments of preventive interventions are at the heart of knowledge translation and policy influence. This can be seen in the form of replications, the process of scaling up effective interventions for wider dissemination, and inspiration for prevention scientists to launch new and innovative experiments—sometimes with the aim to improve upon past results. For example, far from curtailing policy interest in a developmental approach to delinquency prevention or dampening the need for prevention experiments, the harmful effects reported in the 30-year follow-up of the CSYS instead had an influence on some new longitudinal-experimental studies in developmental and life-course criminology.

Conclusions

New experiments are needed to continue to advance early developmental crime prevention, and further research is needed to add to our understanding of knowledge translation in this area.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Notes

  1. 1.

    All of the studies reviewed in this article use longitudinal-experimental designs.

  2. 2.

    As noted by Dishion et al. [7], these “comparisons are based on random assignment within pairs matched prior to the treatment.” This means that the original design of the experiment—matching plus random allocation to treatment and control conditions—was not compromised in testing the peer deviancy explanation for the program’s iatrogenic effects.

  3. 3.

    It is important to note that McCord’s hypothesis about peer deviancy was developed after her 1978 article [30] and was shared with Tremblay in advance of its first published account in 1992 [32].

References

  1. 1.

    Boisjoli, R., Vitaro, F., Lacourse, É., Barker, E. D., & Tremblay, R. E. (2007). Impact and clinical significance of a preventive intervention for disruptive boys: 15 year follow-up. British Journal of Psychiatry, 191, 415–419.

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Bovet, L. (1951). Psychiatric aspects of delinquency. Geneva: World Health Organization.

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Cabot, R. C. (1930). Foreword. In S. Glueck & E. T. Glueck (Eds.), 500 criminal careers (pp. vii–xiii). New York: Knopf.

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Cabot, R. C. (1935). Letter to Dr. H. A. Murray, Jr., October 19, 1935. HUG 4255: Box 97. Richard Clarke Cabot Papers, Pusey Library, Harvard University Archives.

  5. 5.

    Castellanos-Ryan, N., Séguin, J. R., Vitaro, F., Parent, S., & Tremblay, R. E. (2013). Impact of a 2-year multimodal intervention for disruptive 6-year-olds on substance use in adolescence: a randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Psychiatry, 203, 188–195.

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Côté, S. M., Orri, M., Tremblay, R. E., & Doyle, O. (2018). A multicomponent early intervention program and trajectories of behavior, cognition, and health. Pediatrics, 141(5), 1–14 (e20173174).

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Dishion, T. J., McCord, J., & Poulin, F. (1999). When interventions harm: peer groups and problem behavior. American Psychologist, 54, 755–764.

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Dodge, K. A. (2001). The science of youth violence prevention: progressing from developmental epidemiology to efficacy to effectiveness to public policy. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 20, 63–70.

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Dodge, K. A., Dishion, T. J., & Lansford, J. E. (Eds.). (2005). Deviant peer influences in programs for youth: problems and solutions. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Duffee, J. H., Mendelsohn, A. L., Kuo, A. A., Legano, L. A., & Earls, M. F. (2017). Early childhood home visiting. Pediatrics, 140(3), 1–14 (e20172150).

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Duncan, G. J., & Magnuson, K. (2004). Individual and parent-based intervention strategies for promoting human capital and positive behavior. In P. L. Chase-Lansdale, K. Kiernan, & R. J. Friedman (Eds.), Human development across lives and generations: the potential for change (pp. 93–135). New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Eckenrode, J., Campa, M., Luckey, D. W., Henderson, C. R., Cole, R., Kitzman, H., Anson, E., Sidora-Arcoleo, K., Powers, J., & Olds, D. L. (2010). Long-term effects of prenatal and infancy nurse home visitation on the life course of youths: 19-year follow-up a randomized trial. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 164, 9–15.

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Elliott, D. S., & Fagan, A. A. (2017). The prevention of crime. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Farrington, D. P. (1983). Randomized experiments on crime and justice. In M. Tonry & N. Morris (Eds.), Crime and justice: an annual review of research (Vol. 4, pp. 257–308). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Farrington, D. P. (2006). Key longitudinal-experimental studies in criminology. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 2, 121–141.

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Farrington, D. P. (2013). Longitudinal and experimental research in criminology. In M. Tonry (Ed.), Crime and justice 1975–2025 (pp. 453–527). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Farrington, D. P., & Hawkins, J. D. (2019). The need for long-term follow-ups of delinquency prevention experiments. JAMA Network Open, 2(3), 1–3 (e190782).

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Farrington, D. P., Gaffney, H., Lösel, F., & Ttofi, M. M. (2017). Systematic reviews of the effectiveness of developmental prevention programs in reducing delinquency, aggression, and bullying. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 33, 91–106.

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Forsetlund, L., Chalmers, I., & Bjørndal, A. (2007). When was random allocation first used to generate comparison groups in experiments to assess the effect of social interventions? Economics of Innovation and New Technology, 16, 371–384.

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Garrett-Bakelman, F. E., Darshi, M., Green, S. J., Gur, R. C., Ling, L., et al. (2019). The NASA twins study: a multidimensional analysis of a year-long human spaceflight. Science, 364(6436), 1–20 (eaau8650).

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Gifford-Smith, M., Dodge, K. A., Dishion, T. J., & McCord, J. (2005). Peer influence in children and adolescents: crossing the bridge from developmental to intervention science. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 33, 255–265.

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Glueck, S., & Glueck, E. T. (1930). 500 criminal careers. New York: Knopf.

    Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Gottfredson, D. C. (2010). Deviancy training: understanding how preventive interventions harm. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 6, 229–243.

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Gottfredson, D. C., Cook, T. D., Gardner, F. E., Gorman-Smith, D., Howe, G. W., Sandler, I. N., & Zafft, K. M. (2015). Standards of evidence for efficacy, effectiveness, and scale-up research in prevention science: next generation. Prevention Science, 16, 893–926.

    Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Hobbes, T. (1998/1647). De cive; or The citizen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Kitzman, H. J., Olds, D. L., Cole, R. E., Hanks, C. E., Anson, E. A., Arcoleo, K. J., et al. (2010). Enduring effects of prenatal and infancy home visiting by nurses on children: follow-up of a randomized trial among children at age 12 years. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 164, 412–418.

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Lacourse, É., Côté, S., Nagin, D. S., Vitaro, F., Brendgen, M., & Tremblay, R. E. (2002). A longitudinal-experimental approach to testing theories of antisocial behavior development. Development and Psychopathology, 14, 909–924.

    Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Lacourse, É., Boivin, M., Brendgen, M., Petitclerc, A., Girard, A., Vitaro, F., Paquin, S., Ouellet-Morin, I., Dionne, G., & Tremblay, R. E. (2014). A longitudinal twin study of physical aggression during early childhood: evidence for a developmentally dynamic genome. Psychological Medicine, 44, 2617–2627.

    Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Laub, J. H., & Sampson, R. J. (1991). The Sutherland-Glueck debate: On the sociology of criminological knowledge. American Journal of Sociology, 96, 1402–1440.

    Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    McCord, J. (1978). A thirty-year follow-up of treatment effects. American Psychologist, 33, 284–289.

    Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    McCord, J. (1981). Consideration of some effects of a counseling program. In S. E. Martin, L. B. Sechrest, & R. Redner (Eds.), New directions in the rehabilitation of criminal offenders (pp. 394–405). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    McCord, J. (1992). The Cambridge-Somerville Study: a pioneering longitudinal-experimental study of delinquency prevention. In J. McCord & R. E. Tremblay (Eds.), Preventing antisocial behavior: interventions from birth through adolescence (pp. 196–206). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    McCord, J. (1996). Prevention and the grounds for action. Paper presented at the Seminar on Early Prevention, Stockholm, Sweden, December 2-3, 1996.

  34. 34.

    McCord, J. (2002). Counterproductive juvenile justice. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 35, 230–237.

    Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    McCord, J. (2003). Cures that harm: unanticipated outcomes of crime prevention programs. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 587, 16–30.

    Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    McCord, J., & McCord, W. (1959). A follow-up report on the Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 322, 89–96.

  37. 37.

    McCord, W., & McCord, J. (1959). Origins of crime: a new evaluation of the Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study. New York: Columbia University Press.

  38. 38.

    Michelson, L., Sugai, D. P., Wood, R. P., & Kazdin, A. E. (1983). Social skills assessment and training with children. New York: Plenum Press.

    Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Nagin, D. S., & Sampson, R. J. (2019). The real gold standard: measuring counterfactual worlds that matter most to social science and policy. Annual Review of Criminology, 2, 123–145.

    Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Nordsletten, E., Larsson, H., Crowley, J. J., Almqvist, C., Lichtenstein, P., & Mataix-Cols, D. (2016). Patterns of nonrandom mating within and across 11 major psychiatric disorders. JAMA Psychiatry, 73, 354–366.

    Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Nurse-Family Partnership (2019). Nurse-Family Partnership: national snapshot. Available at: www.nursefamilypartnership.org. Accessed 17 May 2019.

  42. 42.

    O’Brien, L. (1985). ‘A bold plunge into the sea of values’: the career of Dr. Richard Cabot. New England Quarterly, 58, 533–553.

    Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    O’Donnell, K. J., Chen, L., MacIsaac, J. L., McEwen, L. M., Nguyen, T., Beckmann, K., Zhu, Y., Chen, L. M., Brooks-Gunn, J., Goldman, D., Grigorenko, E. L., Leckman, J. F., Diorio, J., Karnani, N., Olds, D. L., Holbrook, J. D., Kobor, M. S., & Meaney, M. J. (2018). DNA methylome variation in a prenatal nurse-visitation program that reduces child maltreatment: a 27-year follow-up. Translational Psychiatry, 8(15), 15.

    Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Olds, D. L., Henderson, C. R., Chamberlin, R., & Tatelbaum, R. (1986). Preventing child abuse and neglect: a randomized trial of nurse home visitation. Pediatrics, 78, 65–78.

    Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Olds, D. L., Henderson, C. R., Cole, R., Eckenrode, J., Kitzman, H., Luckey, D., Pettitt, L. M., Sidora, K., Morris, P., & Powers, J. (1998). Long-term effects of nurse home visitation on children’s criminal and antisocial behavior: 15-year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 280, 1238–1244.

    Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Olds, D. L., Holmberg, J. R., Donelan-McCall, N., Luckey, D. W., Knudtson, M. D., & Robinson, J. (2014). Effects of home visits by paraprofessionals and by nurses on children: follow-up of a randomized trial at ages 6 and 9 years. JAMA Pediatrics, 168, 114–121.

    Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Patterson, G. R., Reid, J. B., Jones, R. R., & Conger, R. D. (1975). A social learning approach to family intervention, vol. 1. Families with aggressive children. Eugene: Castalia.

    Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Petrosino, A. (2000). How can we respond effectively to juvenile crime? Pediatrics, 105, 635–637.

    Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    PFL Evaluation Team. (2016). Promoting child development by supporting parents: learning from the evaluation of the Preparing for Life home visiting programme. Dublin, Ireland: Geary Institute, University College Dublin.

    Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Piquero, A. R., Jennings, W. G., Diamond, B., Farrington, D. P., Tremblay, R. E., Welsh, B. C., & Gonzalez, J. (2016). A meta-analysis update on the effects of early family/parent training programs on antisocial behavior and delinquency. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 12, 229–248.

    Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Poulin, F., Dishion, T. J., & Burraston, B. (2001). 3-year iatrogenic effects associated with aggressive high-risk adolescents in cognitive-behavioral preventive interventions. Applied Developmental Science, 5, 214–224.

    Google Scholar 

  52. 52.

    Powers, E. (1949). An experiment in prevention of delinquency. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 261, 77–88.

    Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Powers, E. (1950). Some reflections on juvenile delinquency. Federal Probation, 14, 21–26.

    Google Scholar 

  54. 54.

    Powers, E., & Witmer, H. L. (1951). An experiment in the prevention of delinquency: the Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study. New York: Columbia University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  55. 55.

    Sampson, R. J., Winship, C., & Knight, C. (2013). Translating causal claims: principles and strategies for policy-relevant criminology. Criminology & Public Policy, 12, 587–616.

    Google Scholar 

  56. 56.

    Spatz Widom, C., & Brzustowicz, L. M. (2006). MAOA and the “cycle of violence”: childhood abuse and neglect, MAOA genotype, and risk for violent and antisocial behavior. Biological Psychiatry, 60, 684–689.

    Google Scholar 

  57. 57.

    Tonry, M., & Farrington, D. P. (1995). Strategic approaches to crime prevention. In M. Tonry & D. P. Farrington (Eds.), Building a safer society: strategic approaches to crime prevention (pp. 1–20). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  58. 58.

    Tremblay, R. E. (2007). The development of youth violence: an old story with new data. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 13, 161–170.

    Google Scholar 

  59. 59.

    Tremblay, R. E., & Craig, W. M. (1995). Developmental crime prevention. In M. Tonry & D. P. Farrington (Eds.), Building a safer society: strategic approaches to crime prevention (pp. 151–236). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  60. 60.

    Tremblay, R. E., & Farrington, D. P. (2004). In memoriam: Joan McCord, 1930-2004. The Criminologist, 29(2), 6–7.

    Google Scholar 

  61. 61.

    Tremblay, R. E., McCord, J., Boileau, H., Charlebois, P., Gagnon, C., Leblanc, M., & Larivée, S. (1991). Can disruptive boys be helped to become competent? Psychiatry: Journal for the Study of Interpersonal Processes, 54, 148–161.

    Google Scholar 

  62. 62.

    Tremblay, R. E., Vitaro, F., Bertrand, L., LeBlanc, M., Beauchesne, H., Boileau, H., & David, L. (1992). Parent and child training to prevent early onset of delinquency: the Montréal Longitudinal-Experimental Study. In J. McCord & R. E. Tremblay (Eds.), Preventing antisocial behavior: interventions from birth through adolescence (pp. 117–138). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  63. 63.

    Tremblay, R. E., Vitaro, F., & Cȏté, S. (2018). Developmental origins of chronic physical aggression: a bio-psycho-social model for the next generation of preventive interventions. Annual Review of Psychology, 69, 383–407.

    Google Scholar 

  64. 64.

    Tremblay, R. E., Welsh, B. C., & Sayre-McCord, G. (2019). Crime and life-course, prevention, experiments, and truth seeking: Joan McCord’s pioneering contributions to criminology. Annual Review of Criminology, 2, 1–20.

  65. 65.

    Vitaro, F., Brendgen, M., & Tremblay, R. E. (2001). Preventive intervention: assessing its effects on the trajectories of delinquency and testing for mediational processes. Applied Developmental Science, 5, 201–213.

    Google Scholar 

  66. 66.

    Wathen, C. N., & MacMillan, H. L. (2018). The role of integrated knowledge translation in intervention research. Prevention Science, 19, 319–327.

    Google Scholar 

  67. 67.

    Weisburd, D., & Petrosino, A. (2004). Experiments, criminology. In K. Kempf-Leonard (Ed.), Encyclopedia of social measurement (pp. 877–884). San Diego: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  68. 68.

    Weisburd, D., Farrington, D. P., & Gill, C. E. (Eds.). (2016). What works in crime prevention and rehabilitation: lessons from systematic reviews. New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  69. 69.

    Welsh, B. C., & Farrington, D. P. (2012). Science, politics, and crime prevention: toward a new crime policy. Journal of Criminal Justice, 40, 128–133.

    Google Scholar 

  70. 70.

    Welsh, B. C., & Rocque, M. (2014). When crime prevention harms: a review of systematic reviews. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 10, 245–266.

    Google Scholar 

  71. 71.

    Welsh, B. C., Zane, S. N., & Rocque, M. (2017). Delinquency prevention for individual change: Richard Clarke Cabot and the making of the Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study. Journal of Criminal Justice, 52, 79–89.

    Google Scholar 

  72. 72.

    Welsh, B. C., Dill, N. E., & Zane, S. N. (2019). The first delinquency prevention experiment: A socio-historical review of the origins of the Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study’s research design. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 15, 441–451.

  73. 73.

    Welsh, B. C., Zane, S. N., Zimmerman, G. M., & Yohros, A. (2019). Association of a crime prevention program for boys with mortality 72 years after the intervention: follow-up of a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Network Open, 2(3), 1–11 (e190782).

  74. 74.

    West, D. J., & Farrington, D. P. (1973). Who becomes delinquent? London: Heinemann.

    Google Scholar 

  75. 75.

    World Health Organization. (2014). Global status report on violence prevention 2014. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We are especially grateful to the journal editors and the anonymous reviewers for insightful comments.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Brandon C. Welsh.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Welsh, B.C., Tremblay, R.E. Early Developmental Crime Prevention Forged Through Knowledge Translation: a Window into a Century of Prevention Experiments. J Dev Life Course Criminology (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40865-020-00145-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Developmental crime prevention
  • Randomized controlled experiment
  • Knowledge translation
  • Public policy