Theory in Action: Early Intervention in Crime
Reducing crime rates in the country and all over the world is an issue that can be addressed in several ways. Incarceration and the death penalty are the easiest ways to rid society of harmful criminals. Political leaders in the past have said that criminals need to be locked up for good so that violent crimes stop. The problem of crime goes beyond the actual criminal. Delinquency is often tied to early childhood experiences and the relationships established at a young age. Early Intervention programs around the world help at risk mothers and young children to prevent behaviors that tend to lead to delinquency and committing major crimes.
Gennaro F. Vito and Jeffrey R. Maahs introduce a few programs of Early Intervention in one of their “Theory and Action” articles. Professionals such as a nurse will come into the home of an at risk mother and educate her with finding a suitable living situation, obtaining employment and finding child care, all of which set a child up in a stable environment, one without abuse and neglect (Vito & Maahs, 247). A child who grows up in a home with drug addictions, abuse and neglect, will most likely follow a path of committing crimes and performing poorly in school. Several Early Intervention programs have been studied and conducted, with results showing that some of them show positive affects on the child and their future. These types of programs have started to be funded by the government. At risk mothers and young children should be recommended to these programs with little to no cost so that our country can decrease crime rates in at –risk populations.
The problem of violence and crime can be related to biology and the nine months that it takes for a women’s body to develop a baby. A developing fetus needs a lot of care and nurturing. A mother who abuses drugs, smokes, or consumes alcohol while pregnant can cause damage to the baby’s development, especially in the brain. When a baby’s brain does not develop properly, the risk for the child to develop a learning disability and become anti social is a high probability. Anti social characteristics and an underdeveloped brain can be underlying causes of crimes and violence. Gennaro F. Vito and Jeffrey R. Maahs discuss this in Criminology: Theory, Resource and Policy. Terrie Moffitt is a theorist and psychologist who introduced a life course-persistent (LCP) offender. Mothers who harmed the developing fetus fall under this category. Exposing the fetus to toxins already puts the child in an underachieving environment (Vito & Maahs, 242).
Educating the parents, especially first time moms is one of the many programs that can stem from Early Intervention. Many first time moms can admit to not being prepared with beginning the early stages of raising a child, especially teenage moms. In the 1970’s, the Nurse-Family Partnership Program developed after a series of studies In Elmira New York. The study researched the results after nurses would make home visits to educate new and young mothers. These nurses would serve as a guide to helping parents with providing a safe and healthy environment to raise their babies. Cornell University researches followed up with the Elmira Study babies later on when they were fifteen years old. The babies who experienced home visits from a nurse; 44% later on showed fewer behavioral problems (Eckenrode 10). This program’s results proved to be beneficial in the long run with fewer arrest rates and alcohol use. Researchers continued the same study in other populations of concern. The Parent education in the Elmira Study found that children who received home visits; only 4% were found to be neglected, where 19% were neglected in the control group of receiving no home visits (Farrington & Welsh, 288). The statistical differences between receiving home visits and not receiving