Study Shows Chicago Counseling Program Reduces Youth Violence, Improves School Engagement
A new study by the University of Chicago Crime Lab, in partnership with the Chicago Public Schools and local nonprofits Youth Guidance and World Sport Chicago, provides rigorous scientific evidence that a violence reduction program succeeded in creating a sizable decline in violent crime arrests among youth who participated in group counseling and mentoring.
The Crime Lab study — by far the largest of its kind ever conducted — is unique in that it was structured like a randomized clinical trial of the sort regularly used to generate “gold standard” evidence in the medical area. Such controlled studies remain rare in the area of crime prevention, and in social policy more broadly.
The program, Becoming A Man—Sports Edition, was developed and delivered by Youth Guidance and World Sport Chicago to more than 800 boys in 18 CPS schools during the 2009-10 school year. Youth who participated in the program showed a 44 percent decrease in violent crime arrests during the intervention. Participating youth also became more engaged with school — an impact that grew even larger in the year after the program ended.
Based on the success of the study, the Crime Lab is working with the University of Chicago Urban Education Lab, Youth Guidance, World Sport Chicago, the MacArthur Foundation and other philanthropic partners to develop a follow-up study that will provide BAM-Sports Edition along with intensive small group academic tutoring to more than 2,000 CPS students over the next three years.