Social conditions such as housing, family income, and education leave their deepest marks on children and youth. Improvements in these social conditions have been shown to open up new vistas for young people who might otherwise end up behind bars.
This is the principle behind crime prevention through social development (CPTSD): promoting well-being through social, health, and educational measures. Such international authorities as the United Nations (2002) agree that CPTSD is effective, particularly with children and youth.
By investing in kids to provide them with positive life experiences, we can avoid the considerable harms and costs of crime and victimization. Statistics Canada (2003) estimates that crime costs Canadians $59 billion each year.
Evaluations done in Canada, the U.S., Europe and other countries demonstrate that certain social interventions work, they are cost-effective, and they provide additional social benefits. Researchers now conclude that social interventions can yield positive, measurable benefits within three years, with reductions in crime of 25% to 50% within 10 years.
Given the important financial, social and personal costs of crime, investments in crime prevention through social development make economic and social sense. The Canadian government acknowledged this principle when they created the National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS) in 1998.
The CCSD's early research on crime prevention through social development, and our continuing research on a wide variety of social policy issues, has made us a strong advocate of crime prevention through social development.