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Search Result: 48 Records found
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Effects of parental imprisonment on child antisocial behaviour and mental health
  • Authors Joseph Murray, David P. Farrington, Ivana Sekol, Rikke F. Olsen
  • Published date 2009-12-31
  • Coordinating group(s) Crime and Justice
  • Type of document Review User abstract
  • Title Effects of parental imprisonment on child antisocial behaviour and mental health
  • See the full review
  • English

    Parental imprisonment predicts behaviour problems for children

    Children are the hidden victims when parents break the law and end up in prison. According to a new Campbell review, the imprisonment of parents might contribute to children suffering psychological and social harm. Children who have had a parent in prison have twice the risk of developing behavioural problems and poor psychological health than children who have not had a parent in prison.

    The hidden victims

    An increasing number of people around the world are serving prison sentences. Many of these people are parents to children under the age of 18. The number of children requiring support and attention due to parental imprisonment is therefore also increasing.

    Distressful events during childhood can have long-term consequences, as children may carry these negative experiences with them in adulthood. For a number of years, there has been considerable interest in the effects on children of, for example, parental divorce, parental illness, or death of a parent. Yet children with a parent in prison have been and still are a neglected group. These children require support and care in order to best survive the often unpleasant and difficult experience of being separated from someone they are close to.

    Children might be harmed

    The systematic review, which covers the best research in the field, concludes that children with a parent serving a prison sentence are at considerable risk. Specifically, children who have had a parent in prison have twice the risk of developing behavioural and psychological problems compared with children who have not had to endure the same experience.

    In other words, the researchers found an association between the child problem behaviour and whether or not the child had experienced having a parent in prison. However, on the basis of these studies the researchers are unable to determine whether or not parental imprisonment causes these problems or whether they are actually caused by other experiences. For example, many children of prisoners may have difficult family and living situations before their parent is imprisoned. These difficulties could be the cause of their behaviour problems rather than the experience of parental imprisonment.

    The researchers highlight that these children require extra support and attention. While separation from the imprisoned parent in itself may not necessarily lead to changes in the child’s behaviour, the review indicates that it might be a contributing factor.

    On the basis of the review results, the researchers suggest that practitioners should be aware of possible consequences of having an imprisoned parent, when children display maladjusted behaviour or signs of psychological distress.

    Impact on the child

    There are a number of different theories about how parental imprisonment might affect children. The experience might, for example, disrupt the child’s ability to bond with others. Living conditions of families can deteriorate due to the loss of income and other negative experiences after parental imprisonment, so much so that the child may be drawn to crime. There might also be an increased risk of the child committing criminal offences because the imprisoned parent is unable to provide supervision and care for the child. At the same time, there could be a risk of the child being labelled as maladjusted, which is associated with a greater risk of being accused of crime.

    Several of these processes might affect children’s psychological health as well as their criminal behaviour. Therefore, according to existing theories, it is possible for children of prisoners to suffer harm both socially and psychologically. The theories also indicate that the impact of parental imprisonment on children would be strongest when children were living with their parent before the imprisonment.

    Various solutions might help children avoid suffering negative consequences of having a parent in prison. The most natural solution would be reducing the number of parents in prison. This could be brought about by using alternatives to prison sentences, for example, house arrest, fines, electronic surveillance or intensive supervision. Such measures would have less impact on the everyday life of the child, as the punishment of the parent would not involve separation.

    Facts about the review

    The researchers reached their conclusion by comparing 16 studies investigating the impact on children of having parents in prison. In nine of these studies, parental imprisonment occurs during the child’s childhood (0-18 years), while in seven of the studies it is unclear whether the parent’s prison sentence occurred before or after the birth of the child. The studies are from the US, England, Australia, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.

    As mentioned earlier, the studies identify imprisonment as a risk factor, but not necessarily a causal risk factor. The researchers therefore recommend new studies seeking to draw specific conclusions about the causal effects of imprisonment on the behaviour of children.

    The researchers behind the systematic review also encourage future research to focus on why some children of prisoners develop problematic behaviour while others do not.

School-based programs to reduce bullying and victimization
  • Authors David Farrington, Maria Ttofi
  • Published date 2009-12-15
  • Coordinating group(s) Crime and Justice, Education
  • Type of document Review User abstract
  • Title School-based programs to reduce bullying and victimization
  • See the full review
  • English

    Anti-bullying programs work

    Bullying is becoming an ever more pressing issue for schools, daycare centers, politicians and the public. Everyone agrees that bullying is a serious problem and initiatives are urgently called for to stamp it out. A new systematic review from the Campbell Collaboration has studied the effects of anti-bullying programs in schools. The conclusion is that programs generally work and bullying is reduced on average by around 20%.

    Children bully and are bullied

    Victims of bullying may be harmed physically as well as psychologically, and the consequences may be long-lasting. Therefore, bullying has increasingly become a worldwide topic of public concern and for research. This is evident in the number of studies on bullying, which has risen markedly over the past 20 years. The researchers behind this systematic review wanted to know if anti-bullying programs are effective, and what elements of an anti-bullying program can predict the reduction in bullying?

    Bullying as a concept

    There are many definitions of bullying. In this context bullying is defined as physical, verbal or psychological attack or intimidation that is intended to cause fear or harm to the victim. There is an imbalance of power, either psychological or physical, where the more powerful child oppresses the less powerful child. Bullying involves repeated incidents between the same children over a prolonged period. Bullying can occur in school or on the way to or from school.

    Programs do work

    The systematic review concludes that school-based anti-bullying programs are generally effective in reducing bullying and victimization. On average, bullying decreased by 20% – 23% and victimization decreased by 17% – 20%.

    Parents are important

    Sharing information with parents is an key element of any anti-bullying program. Information is often given in parent-teacher meetings at the school about the school’s strategy towards bullying. The researchers recommend that future anti-bullying programs should focus beyond the school itself; the focus should also be directed at parents.

    Other elements of anti-bullying programs that are found to be effective are:

    • Punitive and non-punitive disciplinary methods
    • Improved playground and schoolyard supervision
    • Technology, such as films about bullying and computer games to raise students’ awareness and knowledge about bullying

    Involving peers in conflict resolution is associated with a significant increase in victimization in the studies examined.

    Focus on older children

    The systematic review also focuses on how anti-bullying programs work in relation to different age groups. The older the students are when the anti-bullying program is implemented, the better it works.

    Duration and intensity are crucial

    Results of the analysis show that a good program is intensive and long-lasting. The duration (number of days) and intensity (number of hours) of training teachers to deal with bullying are directly linked to the decrease in bullying and victimization. The same applies for the children. The duration and intensity of the program for children are positively related to the reduction of bullying and victimization.

    New anti-bullying programs

    The researchers recommend that new anti-bullying programs are developed with inspiration from existing successful programs, and should be modified to include the most effective elements. Furthermore, the researchers recommend that new anti-bullying programs go beyond the scope of the schoolyard and that the family be more included in the effort to reduce bullying.

    The researchers believe that future anti-bullying initiatives should bring together leading experts, so all their expertise can be used in the fight against bullying. Furthermore, the systematic review clearly states that future evaluations should measure the children’s situation before and after an anti-bullying program. This should apply to the experimental group as well as the control group to get the most accurate results possible. Finally, the researchers suggest that cost-benefit analyses of anti-bullying programs should be carried out to investigate how much money is saved by having less bullying compared to the costs of the programs.

    Facts about the review

    The researchers behind the systematic review found a total of 89 reports of sufficient quality to be included in the systematic review. The 89 reports describe 53 different studies. However, nine studies did not provide enough data to allow the calculation of an effect size and were, therefore, not included in the final meta-analysis. The overall analysis is therefore based on a total of 44 studies. The 44 different studies were carried out between 1983 and mid-2009 and came from 16 different countries. The included studies were either randomized controlled trials, quazi-randomized trials, age-cohort studies or other controlled studies. The researchers behind the systematic review stress that the various designs all have advantages and problems.

    This article was written by Anne-Sofie Due Knudsen

Effects of drug substitution programs on offending among drug addicts
  • Authors Nicole Egli, Miriam Pina, Pernille Skovbo Christensen, Marcelo Aebi, Martin Killias
  • Published date 2009-08-27
  • Coordinating group(s) Crime and Justice
  • Type of document Review
  • Title Effects of drug substitution programs on offending among drug addicts
  • See the full review
Interventions for children, youth and parents to prevent and reduce cyber abuse
  • Authors Faye Mishna, Charlene Cook, Robert MacFadden, Michael Saini, Meng-Jia Wu
  • Published date 2009-06-05
  • Coordinating group(s) Crime and Justice
  • Type of document Review Plain language summary
  • Title Interventions for children, youth and parents to prevent and reduce cyber abuse
  • Library Image Library Image
  • See the full review
  • Records available in English, Spanish
  • English


    Cyber abuse interventions increase knowledge on internet safety but do not decrease risky online behaviour

    The prevalence of cyber abuse is a growing problem. Cyber abuse interventions are intended to develop knowledge and awareness among children, youths and their parents to reduce risky behaviour online. Participation in cyber abuse prevention increases knowledge about internet safety yet does not decrease risky online behaviour.

    What did the review study?

    While there are many benefits from the internet, it is a potential site for abuse and victimisation. The prevalence of cyber abuse – that is activities such as cyber bullying, cyber stalking, cyber sexual solicitation, and cyber pornography – is a growing problem.

    This review examines the effectiveness of cyber abuse interventions in increasing knowledge about internet safety and decreasing risky online behaviour.

    What is the aim of this review?

    This Campbell systematic review examines the effectiveness of cyber abuse interventions in increasing internet safety knowledge and decreasing risky online behaviour. The review summarises findings from 3 studies: one conducted in Canada and the other two in the USA. The participants were middle school students in grades five to eight between the ages of 5-19 who use the internet or cell phones. A total of 2,713 participants were included in the studies.

    What studies are included?

    Included studies reported on prevention intervention programs administered to children and youths between the ages of 5 and 19. Outcomes related to children and youths exposed to the internet or cellphones. Effectiveness studies had to employ an experimental or two-group quasi-experimental research design

    Three studies were included from Canada and the United States of America. The primary outcomes were cyber abuse of children and adolescents, risky behaviours by children and adolescents, knowledge related to cyber abuse, and negative impact on the psychological state among those who have been victimized by cyber abuse were.

    What are the main results in this review?

    Cyber abuse interventions and preventions are associated with an increase in internet safety knowledge. Despite the increase in knowledge, students who received the intervention did not become less likely to engage in inappropriate online behaviour, such as disclosing one’s name, participating in open chat rooms, or emailing strangers.

    The three studies were evaluations of the following cyber abuse interventions: I-SAFE cyber safety program, the missing cyber safety program, and the in-school cyber bullying intervention (HAHASO). The I-SAFE cyber safety had the largest effect on internet safety knowledge. Both the missing program and HAHASO suggests that intervention did not significantly change internet-related safety attitudes or reduce the number of reported cyber bullying experiences.

    Given the low number of studies available for rigorous cyber abuse prevention and intervention evaluations, the evidence base for these conclusions is weak.

    What do the findings in this review mean?

    The review provides consistent evidence of cyber abuse interventions having positive effects in increasing internet safety issues but shows that cyber abuse knowledge may not always lead to behaviour change.

    The poor quality of current evidence about the efficacy of cyber abuse prevention and intervention in increasing internet safety knowledge and decreasing risky online behaviour prevents drawing strong inferences from the analyses. Additional research is necessary to explore the link between internet safety generation and risky online behaviour.

    More studies, particularly those that explore the impact of these forms of interventions on younger children as well as older adults, should be carried given that the studies in this review focused only on middle school children in grades five to eight. The effectiveness of the study would also benefit from a larger sample size.

    How up-to-date is this review?

    The review authors searched for studies published until July 2009.

  • Spanish

    Click on 'Download PDF' on the right to view the plain language summary in Spanish.

The effectiveness of Neighborhood Watch
  • Authors Trevor Bennett, David Farrington, Katy Holloway
  • Published date 2008-12-31
  • Coordinating group(s) Crime and Justice
  • Type of document Review User abstract
  • Title The effectiveness of Neighborhood Watch
  • See the full review
Effects of closed circuit television surveillance on crime
  • Authors Brandon Welsh, David Farrington
  • Published date 2008-12-02
  • Coordinating group(s) Crime and Justice
  • Type of document Review Plain language summary
  • Title Effects of closed circuit television surveillance on crime
  • Library Image Library Image
  • See the full review
  • Records available in English, Spanish
  • English

    Closed circuit television (CCTV) as a crime prevention tool

    CCTV surveillance has a modest effect on personal property crime but not on levels of violent crime. CCTV can be effective in reducing crime in car parks.

    What is the aim of this review?

    This Campbell systematic review examines the effects of closed circuit television (CCTV) on property crime and violent crime. The review reports on whether using CCTV results in crime displacement, and also assesses whether using CCTV leads to the spread of crime prevention benefits. The authors found 44 evaluations. The studies were from the United Kingdom, the USA, Canada, Norway and Sweden. Most of the studies (34) were from the UK.

    What is the review about?

    The use of closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance is increasingly common in public spaces. A common justification for using CCTVs is that it reduces crime by deterring potential offenders. CCTV surveillance may alert police and security personnel quickly so they intervene more rapidly. CCTV surveillance may help to make people feel safer and more secure.

    CCTV, however, is expensive. In the UK, it is estimated that between 1992-2002, more than £250 million of public money was spent on CCTV. This form of surveillance is the most heavily funded crime prevention measure outside the country’s criminal justice system.

    This review summarizes the evidence on the effects of CCTV surveillance cameras on crime in public spaces. The review examines which settings and conditions CCTV is most effective in, and whether the use of CCTV prevents crime overall or displaces it elsewhere.

    What studies were included?

    The systematic review included studies which investigate the effects of CCTV on property crime and violent crime. Studies including other interventions are included only if CCTV surveillance was the primary intervention. All studies have before-and-after measures of crime and compared an experimental area in which the intervention was used, with a control area in which it was not.

    The review summarizes 44 studies. The majority of the evaluations were conducted in four main settings: city and town centres, public transport, public housing, and car parks. In addition, two studies were conducted in residential areas, and one in a hospital. The majority of studies are from the UK (36). The other countries included are the USA (5), and Canada, Norway, and Sweden (1 each).

    How effective is CCTV in reducing crime?

    CCTV has a modest impact on crime. Effectiveness varies across settings. Surveillance is more effective at preventing crime in car parks, and less effective in city and town centers, public housing, and public transport. CCTV appears most effective in car parks at reducing vehicle crimes such as thefts from cars or stealing cars. The effectiveness of CCTV surveillance is greater when camera coverage of an area is high.

    CCTV surveillance does not have an effect on levels of violent crime.

    In all six of the CCTV car park studies, CCTV surveillance was an element in a broader package of crime prevention measures, such as extra security guards, better lighting, and fencing. It is not possible to assess the independent effects of each of these different components.

    The available evidence does not allow a conclusion as to whether CCTV leads to a displacement of crime or a diffusion of crime prevention benefits to other areas.

    What are the research and policy implications of this review?

    Implications for policy- and decision-makers CCTV can be a useful tool for reducing thefts from vehicles or thefts of vehicles in car parks. CCTV is less useful as a crime prevention tool in other settings. A more targeted, context-specific approach to the use of CCTV is therefore appropriate. CCTV is not an effective tool for preventing violent crime.

    Research implications

    There is a need to investigate further (1) why CCTV surveillance works in some settings but not in others, (2) whether CCTV reduces crime or shifts it elsewhere, and (3) longer follow-up periods as to whether crime reduction benefits are sustained over time.

    How up-to-date is this review?

    The search was completed in April 2007. This Campbell Systematic Review was published on 2 December 2008.

  • Spanish

    Click on 'Download PDF' on the right to view the plain language summary in Spanish.

Effects of second responder programs on repeat incidents of family abuse
  • Authors Robert C. Davis, David Weisburd, Bruce Taylor
  • Published date 2008-11-03
  • Coordinating group(s) Crime and Justice
  • Type of document Review User abstract
  • Title Effects of second responder programs on repeat incidents of family abuse
  • See the full review
Effects of improved street lighting on crime
  • Authors Brandon Welsh, David Farrington
  • Published date 2008-09-25
  • Coordinating group(s) Crime and Justice
  • Type of document Review User abstract
  • Title Effects of improved street lighting on crime
  • See the full review
  • English

    See the light! Street lights prevent crime

    There is an alternative to increased surveillance as a means of preventing crime in public space. The solution is closer than we think: improved street lighting. A new Cambell systematic review shows that improved street lighting reduces crimes by 21 percent. Furthermore, improved street lighting even reduces daytime crime. Researchers believe the improvement in crime rates happens because better lighting is a sign of an orderly neighbourhood; a neighbourhood where people call the police if they see a crime.

    Street lights prevent crime

    When the sun sets, streets are much easier to use if there is street lighting. Street lighting is essential for people who want to go from A to B after dark.

    However, street lighting is about more than merely making it easier to use streets at night. Street lighting is also about helping people feel safe: in areas with much crime, improved street lighting can abate the problem. A new Cambell systematic review finds that improved street lighting reduces crime by 21 percent in experimental areas compared to comparable areas with no street lighting improvements.

    At the same time, researchers point out another remarkable result, namely that improved street lighting reduces daytime crime.

    Why does improved street lighting work - even during daytime?

    Most of us are familiar with feeling insecure in dark places. Street lighting makes us feel safer, because we can see other people who, like ourselves, are out at night, and they can see us. The fact that others can see us, if we were to be confronted by an offender, increases our feeling of safety. Moreover, we expect criminals to avoid potential crime scenes, if there is a high probability of being caught. Finally, street lighting increases the feeling of safety because more law-abiding citizens use the streets at night. When there are more people in the streets, we perform natural surveillance of each other.

    Is it, however, only the increased natural surveillance that causes the decreases in crimes? Not according to the authors of the review. If natural surveillance were the sole cause of the reduction in crime, this reduction would only be evident in nighttime crime. However, daytime crime is also reduced.

    Community pride

    Researchers therefore believe that improved street lighting is also efficacious because it increases the feeling of pride, and thereby also informal social control in the neighbourhood.

    The theory is that when local government chooses to improve conditions in our neighbourhood, for example through improved street lighting, they send a signal that they care about us. This might lead us to have a more positive image of our neighbourhood, and our neighbourhood will moreover appear better cared for. This in turn strengthens community cohesion and pride. When we become more proud of the place we live, we also become more observant of each other on an everyday basis. We feel that public space belongs to us all. We develop a greater sense of responsibility and this leads to more social control and reduced night-time and daytime crime in the neighbourhood.

    What have researchers studied?

    The systematic review is based on high-quality evaluation studies that examine whether crime in public space (e.g. burglary, violent assault, theft and street robbery) is reduced when street lighting is improved. The review specifies that improved street lighting has a positive effect on reductions in burglaries and thefts, however not in violent crimes.

    Thirteen studies were included in the review: eight US studies and five UK studies. The review shows that the positive effect of improved street lighting has been greater in the UK than in the US. All of the studies concentrate on the isolated crime-prevention effect of street lighting – and nothing else. This means that the fall of 21 percent in crime rates does not stem from combined interventions, e.g. street lighting and video surveillance, or street lighting and improved playgrounds.

    See the light!

    The overall final conclusion of researchers is that improved street lighting is an effective means of preventing crime. The financial costs can be recouped through savings from reduced crime, and there seems to be no immediate negative consequences for society – on the contrary.

    Improved street lighting benefits the entire neighbourhood, not just individual citizens. Lighting improvements are not an infringement of civil rights but improves the general feeling of safety and ensures greater public street use in neighbourhoods at night time.

Court-mandated interventions for individuals convicted of domestic violence
  • Authors Lynette Feder, Sabrina Austin, David Wilson
  • Published date 2008-08-30
  • Coordinating group(s) Crime and Justice
  • Type of document Review User abstract
  • Title Court-mandated interventions for individuals convicted of domestic violence
  • See the full review
  • English

    Court-mandated treatment does not bring an end to domestic violence

    Domestic violence often results in court-mandated treatment. However, the most reliable current research cannot document that court-mandated treatment prevents further domestic assaults.

    Domestic violence is a widespread and serious problem

    The world health organization WHO assesses that domestic violence is the most common form of violence against women. Women who are exposed to domestic violence suffer serious mental and physical injury. Moreover, this violence may have a number of negative repercussions for the children in the home. Therefore, there is a large demand for programs that can prevent the violence and any repeated episodes.

    Mandated treatment

    In efforts to stamp out the violence, it has become a widespread practice in the USA and several European countries to sentence the violent partner to a court-mandated treatment program. This may be part of the requirements of a release on parole or a conditional discharge sentence. The treatment consists of group sessions with dialogue and therapy aimed at teaching offenders to take responsibility for their violent actions, deal with their rage and ultimately change their behavior. The purpose is to prevent repeated assaults.

    In court-mandated treatment the violent partner is legally obligated to undergo treatment. Treatment programs based on voluntary participation may suffer large dropout rates. Thus courtmandated treatment programs provide a method for ensuring that violence offenders remain in the treatment program. Additionally, court-mandated treatment programs also serve as an alternative to imprisonment and in this way can relieve pressure on overcrowded prisons.

    Doubts about the effectiveness of court-mandated treatments

    A new Campbell Review has examined the effect of ordering violent partners to undergo treatment. The researchers summarized the best studies in this area and analyzed whether court-mandated treatments prevent repeated assaults. The conclusion is that the current evidence raises doubts about effectiveness of court-mandated treatment in reducing the probability of repeated domestic violence. Existing research can therefore not guarantee that court-mandated treatments actually do more good than harm. The Review emphasizes that even though there is an acute need for methods to stop and prevent repeated violence, forcing the violent offender to undergo treatment might not result in positive effects.

    About the review

    All studies conducted between 1986 and 2003 that examine the effect of court mandated treatments were searched for in the review. The researchers’ conclusions are based on ten studies that were assessed to be of sufficient high quality. The studies are all carried out in the USA and include a total of 3.614 participants. The participants are adult men, 18 years and older who have been sentenced for committing violence against their partner. This may be violence committed against current or former spouses, cohabiters or violence between dating couples.

    The violent offender participates in group sessions, from 8 to 32 therapy sessions distributed over a one year period. Therapy is either based on a psychoeducational or cognitive behavioral approach. Psychoeducation focuses on increasing the batterer’s understanding of violence and its implications, teaching the male batterer to take responsibility, solve conflicts and learn to deal with their rage. Cognitive behavioral therapy mainly focuses on changing thought patterns and convictions that lead to the violent behavior.

    All ten studies compare two groups: A group that is given a court-mandated treatment and a comparison group which is given an alternative sentence. 5 of the studies are experimental (RCT).The alternative sentence may consist of a conditional discharge without requirement to undergo treatment or an order to do community service. In the studies the two groups are compared in relation to the number of repeated police reports, arrests for violence and the victim’s own assessment of whether their partner’s violent behavior continues. The findings showed a small positive effect when official measures of repeat violence were examined but no effect when victim reports of repeat violence were used. The inconsistency in findings across measures and the greater credibility of the victim based data raise serious concerns about the effectiveness of these programs.

Benefit-cost analyses of sentencing
  • Authors Cynthia McDougall, Mark A. Cohen, Amanda Perry, Raymond Swaray
  • Published date 2008-08-27
  • Coordinating group(s) Crime and Justice
  • Type of document Review
  • Title Benefit-cost analyses of sentencing
  • See the full review
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