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A violence prevention program that seems to work?

Monday, Jun 27, 2016

* Sun-Times

Crimes committed by at-risk Chicago students dropped in half, and high-school graduations rose sharply in an innovative education program called Becoming a Man that is capturing national attention and could become one antidote to the city’s persistent bloodshed, according to a newly published study.

BAM focuses on adolescent and teenage boys on the city’s violent South and West sides. They’re deemed at risk to fail and are offered a chance to skip a class to participate in a program that tries to teach them alternatives to having “automatic” negative responses to stressful situations. […]

The randomized study compared about 4,800 BAM students with peers in regular school programs. Violent-crime arrests fell 50 percent, and arrests for all types of crime fell 35 percent among the BAM students — although those declines were not “persistent” after they cycled out of the BAM program.

Nevertheless, high-school graduation rates rose 19 percent among the same BAM kids. […]

A similar program in the Cook County juvenile detention center reduced readmission rates 21 percent, the study concluded.

* Crain’s

The young people were randomly divided into a control group that received no special services and those who for up to two years attended a one-hour weekly counseling session and who had access to a counselor the remainder of the school week—both designed to “help youth recognize their automatic responses and slow down their thinking in high-stakes situations.”

In other words, to think about it, not just pull the trigger.

In the first study conducted during the 2009-10 academic year, the percentage of those who subsequently were arrested for a violent crime in an 18-month period was cut almost in half, 45 percent, amounting to 10 percent of participants, versus 19 percent in the control group. A total of 2,740 young men participated.

Results were very similar in the second round of testing, with 2,064 ninth- and 10th-graders participating. The odds of being arrested for a violent crime were half that in the control group, 6 percent versus 11 percent.

Overall arrests didn’t drop quite as dramatically as arrests for violent offenses but still were off considerably in the study group, down 28 percent and 35 percent, respectively.

* Meanwhile

Seven people were killed and at least 51 people were wounded in weekend shootings across Chicago.

So far this year, over 1,880 people have been shot across the city and more than 200 of those wounded have died of their wounds, according to records kept by the Chicago Tribune. At least 317 people have been killed this year by shooting, stabbing or other means, Tribune records show.

Twelve of the 51 people shot this weekend were wounded in the city’s Harrison District, an area on the west side where more than 270 people have been shot this year.

The busiest period during the weekend was from Saturday morning to early Sunday, when four people were fatally shot and 26 others were hurt.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Mama - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 11:32 am:

    BAM is a good program. However, it needs to start in elementary school - before the kids join gangs, and counseling continue thru high school.

  2. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 11:36 am:

    This round of stats confirms results from 6 years ago.

    Violence prevention is underfunded and overpoliticized, not one of life’s great mysteries.

  3. - blue dog dem - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 11:37 am:

    This is a difficult topic to comment on. The Christian in me demands that we help these young adults. This seems like a great ROI. The parent in me wants to round up whoever is responsible for bringing these kids into this world and then not providing proper direction and locking them up. Maybe old Blue needs some divine intervention on this issue.

  4. - Pawn - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 11:42 am:

    This is great news… but it points to the fact that we need engaged community-based organizations willing to get on the front lines to be connected with these high risk youth. Sadly, the stalemate is driving out of business just these kinds of organizations that could be in a position to replicate this work.

    The recovery period from this budget stalemate will be years long.

  5. - illinois bob - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 11:45 am:

    It seems like this should be integrated into curriculum rather than be a “special project”. Anyone know what about the program is so effective?

    The statement “although those declines were not “persistent” after they cycled out of the BAM program.” does make you question the long term value for the program, however.

    It could just be a boondoggle like Headstart under which all distinguishing benefit is lost by sixth grade where you spend billions just to finish the same as the kid started.

    BTW, how do the BAM students make up their lost classroom time for this program? Why isn’t it given after school to keep kids off the streets during peak “street time”?

  6. - Juvenal - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 11:52 am:

    === BTW, how do the BAM students make up their lost classroom time for this program? ===

    BAM students see a 19% increase in high school graduation rates, according to the Sun-Times story above.

    Maybe some of them can help you with your reading comprehension.

  7. - Shore - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 12:19 pm:

    The leading stories in Chicago for weeks have been a)the cubs plaza b)the lucas museum and c)the air bnb/uber regulations. I’m one of the few Republicans who support some forms of gun control, but the issues the city council has chosen to dedicate its time to have not helped matters.

  8. - illinois bob - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 12:25 pm:


    I guess you couldn’t comprehend the statement, “They’re deemed at risk to fail and are offered a chance to skip a class to participate in a program”

    It’s fine that more graduated, but what about the EIGHTY ONE PERCENT that did no better, or perhaps got behind and this CAUSE them not to graduate?

    I envy your myopia, juvie. It keeps you from seeing the forest because of the trees.

    I really hope you’re not an educator, because if you don’t know the down side from missing class at that level you’d truly be a problem in the system

  9. - Juvenal - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 12:39 pm:


    I’m certain you aren’t an educator, but I certainly hope no one lets you near numbers.

    a “19 percent increase in graduation rates” doesn’t 19 percent did better, 81 percent did worse.

    Maybe when these kids finish tutoring you in reading comprehension, they can help you with your math homework.

  10. - @MisterJayEm - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 1:06 pm:

    It’s fine that more graduated, but what about the EIGHTY ONE PERCENT that did no better, or perhaps got behind and this CAUSE them not to graduate?

    Two quick questions, Bob:
    1) Do you think that a 19% increase in the cost of gasoline means that only 19% of the gasoline costs more, and that ‘EIGHTY ONE PERCENT’ of the gasoline costs the same amount?
    2) Did your high school diploma have an expiration date?

    – MrJM

  11. - Formery Known As... - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 1:57 pm:

    This looks a more effective way of preventing violence than CeaseFire ever was. The increased grad rates are important as well.

    Kudos to all. Please expand this asap.

  12. - Anonymous - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 2:32 pm:

    It seems effective, but certainly not the whole answer to this senseless violence. We need to somehow motivate the neighborhoods to stand up against gang control and violent actions. Cops certainly can not do it without true community support.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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