In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Delinquency and Crime Prevention

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Risk Factors
  • School-Based Prevention
  • Bullying Prevention
  • Family-Based and Early Childhood Prevention
  • Community-Based Prevention
  • Gang Prevention
  • Gender-Specific Prevention

Criminology Delinquency and Crime Prevention
Dena Carson
  • LAST REVIEWED: 09 September 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 February 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0213


The prevention of crime and delinquency is an important area of concern for both researchers and practitioners. Prevention efforts have the capability to stop delinquency and crime before they occur as well as reduce the magnitude of these behaviors. By doing so, prevention efforts reduce cost and impact correlates of delinquency and crime, such as victimization. When developing best practices for prevention programs, researchers and program developers draw on information surrounding the causes of delinquency. These causes are generally categorized into risk factors across five different domains: school, family, peer, community, and individual. Risk factor research typically finds that having multiple risk factors across multiple domains is a situation that is most likely to result in delinquency. Therefore, it is important for prevention efforts to take a multipronged approach and attempt to address risk factors across different domains. There are three main levels of prevention: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary prevention is aimed at the general population and seeks to address risk factors for delinquency. Similarly, secondary prevention also attempts to address risk factors, but is aimed at a more at-risk population. Finally, tertiary prevention programs are targeted at offenders and aimed at preventing recidivism. It is most common to think of prevention as occurring before the onset of delinquency, but it is important to consider prevention among already delinquent populations. Of utmost importance when considering programs that aim to prevent delinquency and crime is reliance upon evidence-based or best practices programing and implementation strategies. Identification of evidence-based programming is done through rigorous evaluation and effectiveness cannot be determined until a prevention effort has been adequately evaluated. This bibliography provides a review of delinquency and crime prevention efforts in the United States as well as other countries. It contains a number of important overviews of prevention efforts that are based in risk factor research and emphasize the importance of evidence-based programming. In keeping with the emphasis on evidence-based programming, when possible, all of the specific programs discussed in this bibliography have been rated as model/effective or promising programs.

General Overviews

The works provided here represent broad overviews of delinquency and crime prevention as well as resources for information on program quality and published evaluations. Howell 2003 is a perfect resource for those looking for a review of delinquency as a problem in the United States and provides a much more generalized discussion of prevention and intervention programs aimed at youth. Lundman 2001, however, examines prevention and intervention efforts both before and after contact with the juvenile justice system. The edited volumes Loeber and Farrington 1998; Sherman, et al. 2002; and Welsh and Farrington 2012 include chapters that are specific to certain types of prevention efforts such as those in early childhood, school, and family-based as well as community responses to crime. The Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Model Programs Guide, and National Institute of Justice Crime Solutions websites all provide specific information on programs that have been deemed effective through rigorous evaluation.

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development.

    A national registry of evidence-based programs that have been shown to benefit youth and prevent multiple forms of delinquency. It includes a search engine that provides a program description and effectiveness ratings. This is a comprehensive and helpful resource for practitioners and policymakers.

  • Howell, James C. 2003. Preventing and reducing juvenile delinquency: A comprehensive framework. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    This book provides a historical look at delinquency as well as trend data, which are important areas for understanding prevention. In addition, a large portion of the book discusses best practices programming, effective prevention and rehabilitation programs, and describes programs that have been deemed ineffective at reducing delinquency.

  • Loeber, Rolf, and David P. Farrington, eds. 1998. Serious and violent juvenile offenders: Risk factors and successful interventions. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    This volume provides a broad look at delinquency prevention in general as well as efforts based in the school and community. This is a seminal piece in the field of delinquency and prevention and is a must-read for students and academics.

  • Lundman, Richard J. 2001. Prevention and control of juvenile delinquency. 3d ed. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    This text discusses multiple forms of delinquency intervention including predelinquent intervention, pre-adjudication intervention, and post-adjudication intervention. This is an important text in this topical area and is appropriate for undergraduate as well as graduate students.

  • National Institute of Justice Crime Solutions.

    This website compiles information on a number of criminal justice programs including those focused on crime prevention and those that place an emphasis on juveniles. Programs are categorized based on their effectiveness. The website is an important and helpful resource for practitioners.

  • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Model Programs Guide.

    The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP’s) Model Program Guide compiles information on evidence-based programs focused on prevention of crime and delinquency. Programs are separated into three categories: effective, promising, and no effects. This website is an essential resource for practitioners and policymakers that work with youth.

  • Sherman, Lawrence W., David P. Farrington, Brandon C. Welsh, and Doris Layton MacKenzie, eds. 2002. Evidence-based crime prevention. London: Routledge.

    Overviews are provided in this book for crime prevention across multiple institutions in the life of a youth including school, family, and communities. Also, there are chapters that focus on the importance of prevention efforts among the police, courts, and corrections. Very useful for all who are interested in delinquency prevention.

  • Welsh, Brandon C., and David P. Farrington, eds. 2012. The Oxford handbook of crime prevention. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    This comprehensive text includes several chapters that discuss crime prevention in a developmental perspective, community setting, as well as reducing opportunities for crime (i.e., situational crime prevention). This handbook will be useful to students, academics, practitioners, and policymakers.

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