Mentoring Program Decreases Violent Crime Arrests By 44 Percent
New report shows that social-cognitive skill development is critical in reducing violent crime arrests and improving students’ school performance
Violent crime arrests of at-risk male students in 7-10th grades decreased by 44 percent when they participated in in-school and after-school mentoring programs, a new study from the University of Chicago Crime Lab. Participants in the program, Becoming a Man (BAM) – Sports Edition, also improved their school performance by 10-23 percent when compared to a control group.
In 2009, the Crime Lab launched a citywide competition seeking proposals for ideas about how to reduce crime and violence among Chicago youth. BAM – Sports Edition won that competition.
Learn more about BAM
Along with other funders, the Joyce Foundation supported the BAM-Sports Edition pilot, which was designed to address the difficult everyday circumstances low-income young men of color face in Chicago. "We applaud the Crime Lab and the Chicago Public Schools for taking on this insightful and significant research to promote the development of our young people and the safety of our communities," said Ellen Alberding, president of The Joyce Foundation. "Quality of life in the Great Lakes region is dependent on improving student outcomes and keeping violence down, and the BAM-Sports Edition program shows that both are possible. We hope this rigorous, evidence-based policy guidance will be taken seriously by schools and lawmakers for kids across the country."
The one-year program focused on non-academic, social-cognitive skills, which are important predictors of a student’s performance in school. After the first few grades and particularly in secondary schools, social-cognitive skills – stress management and response, interpersonal problem solving, and personal integrity, among other skills – are not explicitly taught.
BAM-Sports Edition students participated in small group discussions in school. These discussions were followed by after-school sports activities designed to reinforce conflict resolution and lessons from the in-school sessions. The reports’ authors say the program results “provide the most rigorous, large-scale evidence to date that a social-cognitive skill intervention can improve both schooling and delinquency outcomes for disadvantaged youth.”
Download the policy brief.