Delaying the age when kids try alcohol or smoking decreases thelikelihood that they will become dependent later in life. Effectiveinterventions exist, but community disagreements about whichprograms to try can stymie decisions. Communities That Care, a prevention system developed by Universityof Washington researchers, leads communities through thedecision-making process, facilitating evidence-based choices ofprevention programs known to work. The researchers’ latest study shows that tenth graders in townsusing Communities That Care were less likely to have tried drinkingor smoking compared with teens living in towns that had not adoptedthe system.
Delinquent behavior, including stealing, vandalism andphysical fights, decreased too. “What’s exciting about this paper is that these decreases inalcohol use, smoking and violence were apparent even after outsidesupport for the Communities That Care system ended. It shows thatcommunity coalitions can make a sustained difference in theiryoungsters’ health community-wide,” said J. David Hawkins, leadauthor and director of the study and founding director of the UW’sSocial Development Research Group, affiliated with the UW School ofSocial Work.
The study was published online Oct. 3 in Archives of Pediatrics &Adolescent Medicine. For five years, Hawkins and his colleagues tracked the behaviors of4,407 youths growing up in 24 small- to moderate-size towns inColorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Oregon, Utah and Washington.Half of the towns had been randomly assigned to receive training inthe Communities That Care system and were compared with towns ofsimilar size and demographics that were not using the system. In Communities That Care towns, kids in fifth through ninth gradesparticipated in programs aimed to mitigate risk factors such asfamily conflict, low commitment to school and academicdifficulties. The programs were chosen by a community coalition ineach town from a list of preventive interventions known to work. Premium HDMI Cable
The list was compiled by the UW researchers, who instructed thetowns to choose programs based on surveys of community studentsthat identified the particular risk factors most prevalent in theircommunity. “This is so they don’t waste their time and money on programs thataren’t effective,” said Sabrina Oesterle, co-author of the paperand research associate professor in the UW School of Social Work.”This is an approach that can have sustained improvements in teenoutcomes community-wide.” The current study uses survey results from students followed fromfifth grade through the end of tenth grade, a year after externalsupport for Communities That Care ended. Teens growing up in thetowns using the prevention system had half the odds of ever havingsmoked a cigarette by tenth grade and had 21 percent lower odds ofcurrently smoking in tenth grade compared with teens growing up inthe towns without the system. They also had 38 percent lower oddsof ever trying alcohol and 21 percent lower odds of initiatingdelinquent behavior by tenth grade. MHL Cables Manufacturer
The tenth graders in the Communities That Care towns also reported17 percent lower odds of engaging in delinquent behavior, such asstealing, vandalism and selling drugs, and 25 percent lower odds ofengaging in violence, including physical fights. “We want to do the right thing to help our kids grow up to behealthy and lead productive lives, but historically, we haven’tdemanded that the programs that we employ to do this are tested andproven effective,” said Hawkins, who developed Communities ThatCare with Richard Catalano, a co-author and director of the SocialDevelopment Research Group. “This is a systematic way for coalitions of stakeholders toevaluate the risks to youths in their communities, and chooseeffective prevention programs to promote the well being of theirteens,” Hawkins said. Other co-authors from the UW School of Social Work are Eric Brown,research assistant professor; and Michael Arthur, researchassociate professor. Ferrite Cores HDMI Manufacturer
Robert Abbott, a UW professor of educationalpsychology, and Kathryn Monahan, an assistant professor inpsychology at the University of Pittsburgh, are also co-authors. Additional References Citations.