Risk factors such as low family income, poor housing and unaddressed special needs, increase the likelihood that when a child grows up, they will come into trouble with the law as a teenager and adult. By contrast, protective factors such as early childhood education can decrease that likelihood.
Risk factors are most effectively addressed in childhood and youth, for it is the cumulative effect of multiple risk factors that is most damaging. Interventions which address several inter-related factors and build on the existing strengths of individuals and communities tend to be the most effective approaches.
Compared to other measures of crime control, crime prevention through social development is cost-effective. One study found that it cost tax-payers seven times more to achieve a 10% reduction in crime through incarceration, rather than through social development1 (see graph). Additionally, there are other positive impacts achieved from social development projects, including a reduction in human suffering and an increase in the social contribution of at-risk individuals.
In this section, we identify a number of key social interventions which reduce the risks of criminal involvement.
Early Childhood Education
Special Needs Programming
1International Centre for the Prevention of Crime. Crime prevention digest II. Montreal: ICPC, 1999.