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EDUCATION AND DELINQUENCY: Summary of a Workshop Introduction The Panel on Juvenile Crime: Prevention, Treatment, and Control convened a workshop on October 2, 1998, to explore issues related to educational performance, school climate, school practices, learning, student motivation and commitment to school, and their relationship to delinquency. The workshop was designed to bring together researchers and practitioners with a broad range of perspectives on the relationship between such specific issues as school safety and academic achievement and the development of delinquent behavior. Nearly 50 individuals from research organizations, government agencies, universities, and private foundations participated in the workshop. During the course of the workshop, participants reviewed recent research findings, identified gaps in knowledge and promising areas of future research, and discussed the need for program evaluation and the integration of empirical research findings into program design. The goal of the workshop was to supplement the work of the panel, a study group of scholars and practitioners with expertise in juvenile justice and delinquency, criminology and criminal justice, psychology, and public policy. The workshop was designed to augment the knowledge of panel members and inform the study process, specifically regarding areas of expertise not represented on the panel, particularly education, learning, student motivation and commitment to school, and school practices and policies. Participants at the workshop represented a range of disciplines, including law enforcement, sociology, psychology, education, and psy-
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EDUCATION AND DELINQUENCY: Summary of a Workshop chiatry. Six themes emerged from the workshop presentations and discussion: Definitions of school crime have been adopted for a variety of purposes and yield widely varying estimates. This situation has made it impossible to determine the extent of the problem and whether there have been changes in the nature and severity of school crime over time. Few studies have evaluated the consequences of programs designed to control school crime and the effects of such programs on the educational environment. There are major gaps in knowledge about the causal pathways linking school performance to delinquency. Participants discussed the need for further research, especially research that utilizes longitudinal designs and tests multiple competing and alternative theoretical perspectives. Although school policies regarding tracking, suspension, and expulsion may be designed to help students do better in school, these same programs may have demonstrably negative effects on the school performance of many students. School programs that focus on the motivation of students and that foster the desire to learn seem to be more successful in facilitating learning than programs that focus exclusively on cognitive or behavioral deficits. Innovative school programs need to be evaluated before they are instituted on a large scale. Special attention should be paid to the possible negative effects of grouping young people who misbehave. This report draws on the workshop itself as well as support materials that were included in a briefing book distributed to workshop participants. It should not be thought of as a comprehensive review and synthesis of research. Rather, it reflects the proceedings of a 1-day workshop and as such cannot fully capture the voluminous research on the topic. Statements in this report regarding the quality of research findings are derived from the workshop presentations and discussions; many important areas of research therefore are not covered. Because this report is a summary of workshop presentations and not a review of existing literature, considerable attention is given to the research of invited presenters. The report does only a very limited job of presenting challenges to this research and is not intended as an exhaustive presentation of all relevant perspectives on the topic. The report begins with a brief description of methodological issues and limitations inherent in research and data collection on school crime. The next section presents a discussion of concerns raised by workshop participants that responses to school crime may have the unintended
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EDUCATION AND DELINQUENCY: Summary of a Workshop effect of alienating students and teachers and normalizing a culture of violence in schools. The effect of security measures on school operations and the behavior and interactions of students and teachers also are considered. The report next turns to the relationship between school performance and delinquency. Workshop participants explored a number of key mediating factors, among them delinquent peer associations, peer rejection, social isolation, cognitive and behavioral deficits, learning and emotional disabilities, and family management. The next section of the report presents a discussion of the effects of school practices and policies (e.g., tracking, expulsion, dropping out) on learning, school management, and delinquency outcomes. In this context, several workshop participants highlighted the impacts of racial, gender, and class inequalities on student performance. (A presentation was planned on the topic of school delinquency and violence prevention programs, but was cancelled because of an unforeseen scheduling conflict.) The final section of the report examines motivation for learning, life course transitions, and developmental processes that may operate as important mediating influences on school performance and delinquency.
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