Evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence : examining the impact of delinquency prevention in schools
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The deleterious manifold of juvenile delinquency for victims, offenders, and the general public necessitate effective prevention strategies. Researchers have asserted that one of the most effective ways in which delinquency is prevented is through school-based intervention. Specifically, much attention has been given to identifying the most efficacious evidence-based treatments (EBTs) through an evidence-based practice (EBP) approach. Critics, however, argue that several limitations exist in the EBP process and suggest that a practice-based evidence (PBE) approach may be more sufficient to meet the needs of youth who are at-risk of delinquency. Guided by the Social Development Model, it is broadly the aim of this three-article dissertation to explore the most effective school-based delinquency prevention approaches. Drawing from the EBP approach, the first article mimics a process that practitioners are encouraged to employ. Multiple EBT websites were systematically searched for the most efficacious school-based delinquency prevention interventions. Four interventions met inclusion criteria. These interventions highlighted both strengths and limitations. Out of the limitations from the first article, the second article investigated the extent to which a PBE approach may be an alternative option for youth most at-risk of a delinquent trajectory: being male, from a lower socioeconomic urban community, and primarily minority youth. The article offers the results of a pretest/posttest design with a sustaining school-based intervention that was developed by social workers. The final article reports on the results of a randomized controlled trial that investigated the effectiveness of the first year of the XY-Zone on protective factors among youth at-risk for delinquency. The second and third article revealed promising results and provide preliminary evidence for important next steps. Additional research, with a longitudinal design and larger sample size, is needed. This dissertation suggests that both approaches can inform the other. As globalization and advanced resources continue to springboard awareness of both the problems and solutions to delinquency prevention in schools, it is likely that advancements in the EBP and PBE approaches will give way to the ever-debated research and practice gap growing much nearer than ever before.