Chicago, IL – With crime and drugs named as one of the most critical issues facing their communities and local youth more specifically, many residents see community-based programs as being more effective than putting youth in detention centers (73% vs. 20%) when it comes to reducing juvenile delinquency, according to a new study conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of the Chicago Area Project. In fact, 85% of Illinoisans say that there should be more programs that provide delinquency prevention services to youth and families in their community.
Outside of the economy and jobs, Illinoisans name education (16%), healthcare (13%), and crime and drugs (12%) as the most important problems facing their local community. Crime and drugs are more likely to be considered a pressing issue among residents living outside of the Chicago metro area (20% vs. 7%).
Others named taxes (8%), unemployment (5%), political leaders and government (4%), housing (3%), or the economy (3%), while 2% mentioned infrastructure, immigration, morality, foreclosures and environmental issues. Just 1% cited the energy crisis while 13% mentioned some other issue, 2% said nothing, and 10% were unsure.
Thinking more specifically about critical issues facing youth in their local community, at least three in ten cited insufficient parental guidance or support (34%), drug use (32%) and violence and crime (30%). Roughly one in five selected obesity (22%) or lack of positive role models (19%), while fewer selected poor self esteem or body image (15%), teen pregnancy (12%), low high school graduation rates (12%), bullying (11%), or sex (6%). Seven percent selected none of these issues while 2% were unsure.
- Women are more likely than men to name drug use (38% vs. 26%), teen pregnancy (16% vs. 8%) and bullying (16% vs. 6%) as critical issues facing youth in their community today.
- White residents are most likely to select parental guidance or support (38%) as a top issue facing youth today, while crime and violence is most common among residents from other racial or ethnic backgrounds (50%).
- Violence and crime is also more prevalent concern among those who live outside the Chicago metro area than within (38% vs. 24%).
When it comes to reducing juvenile delinquency in the long term, Illinoisans see a variety of solutions as being effective, most commonly increased parental involvement increased parental involvement (94% very or somewhat effective), job or vocational training (91%), after-school programs (90%), and mentoring programs (89%). Additionally, at least eight in ten believe that counseling programs (84%) and increased community engagement (83%) are effective solutions for reducing juvenile delinquency. Also, at least seven in ten believe that additional community development resources (77%), increased community awareness and empowerment (75%), and delinquency prevention services (71%) to be effective solutions for reducing juvenile delinquency.
Similarly, Illinoisans are much more likely to think that placing youth in community-based diversion programs is effective at reducing youth violence and crime than putting youth in detention centers (73% vs. 20%). At least seven in ten residents across demographic groups report that diversion programs would be more effective than detention centers.
Upon learning about the costs associated with each of these solutions – “On average in Illinois, the cost of keeping a youth offender in a youth detention center is an estimated $75,000 per year, about three times the cost of participating in a community-based diversion program for one year” – support for community-based diversion programs increases to 78% while support for detention centers declines to 15% .
Many believe that community-based programs are not only effective when it comes to reducing crime, but 86% agree that they give youth a real opportunity to succeed in the future – including 42% who strongly agree. However, two thirds (66%) believe that these programs should mainly focus on improving communities as a whole rather than focusing on individuals.
More than eight in ten (85%) also agree that there should be more programs that provide delinquency prevention services to youth and families in their community – including 51% who strongly agree. Minorities are even more likely to want more programs like this in their neighborhood (94%).
Likewise, 62% worry that cutting these community-based diversion programs would do nothing more than increase crime in their communities. A similar proportion (61%) would rather see other initiatives be cut before crime prevention programs.
Yet despite the desire to maintain these programs, still four in ten (43%) feel that communities would be better off if youth offenders were required to go to detention centers.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted April 1-5, 2010. For the survey, a nationally representative sample of 512 randomly-selected adults aged 18 and over residing in Illinois was interviewed by telephone via Ipsos’ U.S. Telephone Express omnibus. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate within ±4.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire population of adults in Illinois been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey populations. These data were weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/gender composition reflects that of the actual population of Illinois according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
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