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Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Research: A Study of Youth in Detention in Denver, October 1997-September 1998

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 1999
20 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of a study that collected and analyzed data from interviews with a sample of youth at Denver's Gilliam Youth Services Center between October 1997 and September 1998; the purpose of the interviews was to gain a fuller understanding of the problem behaviors of youth, the risks they faced, and the protective factors that helped counter those risks.
The original sample for the analysis consisted of 2,214 youth who were interviewed and tested for recent drug use between 1992 and 1996. Between October 1997 and September 1998, an additional 398 youth were interviewed using additional questions on problem behaviors, risks, and protective factors. Eighty-seven percent of the juveniles interviewed were male, and 13 percent were female. Fifty-two percent were Latino, 30 percent were African-American, and 14 percent were white. The interviews led to an identification of the same risk factors found in national research. Common characteristics were being male; having problems in school academically and behaviorally, beginning at an early age; significant drug and alcohol use; having family members who had been in jail; living in single-parent families or with other relatives or friends rather than with a parent; and previously being in trouble with the law. The study recommends the following protective factors: respectful and trusting relationships with parents and other adult role models; coordination of services that target those most at risk; a reduction in the accessibility of guns; and the development of institutions, including the juvenile justice system, that will interact with youth to guide them into positive behaviors and attitudes.

Date Published: September 1, 1999