The Bureau of Crime Prevention and Victim Support at the Federal Criminal Police Office / Federal Ministry of of Internal Affairs (BM.I) provides the Austrian-wide prevention program UNDER18, which focuses on the primary prevention of youth crime. In 2019, this program has reached about 128,000 pupils, parents and teachers, and more than 430 youth-prevention officers have been involved as trainers.
In an attempt to consider the specific challenges in crime prevention with young people, the conception and implementation of UNDER18 has been continually developed over the past years, supported by the professional qualification of internal project team members and external experts like educational psychologists, pedagogues and scientists. To ensure optimal support for youth-prevention officers, they participate in an Austrian-wide standardized education program by internal and external lecturers, covering key aspects of developmental psychology, development of violence and addiction, methodical and didactical issues, and matters of communication. Moreover, youth-prevention officers are equipped with comprehensive training documents, including practical exercises and worksheets in a ‘methodology toolbox’.
Despite the program’s high potential, no empirical evaluation of UNDER18 exists that would indicate (1) how the prevention officers implement the program in practice, (2) how they are perceived and assessed by young people, educational institutions and parents resp. legal guardians, (3) whether the program objectives have been achieved and exhibit the intended effects. Such knowledge would be indispensable for showing potential for optimization and would also provide the decisive basis of assessment for its quality as an effective, evidence-based program for the prevention of youth crime. Finally, an evaluation would contribute to the societal and political legitimization of the devoted resources for the implementation of this program.
The planned study addresses this significant need for research and aims for the first time at implementing in an innovative way a comprehensive process- and impact evaluation of the program UNDER18. The project comprises a broad methodical spectrum, including both quantitative (Austrian-wide quantitative surveys with a quasi-experimental design and several waves) and qualitative (focus group discussions, interviews, workshops) research methods. It also includes the implementation of an electronic monitoring-system that aims at ensuring the program’s high quality in the long run. In order to appropriately consider the multi-level approach of UNDER18, the planned includes the perspectives of all involved actors (young people, prevention officers, persons related to the school environment, parents resp. legal guardians).
Assoz. Prof. Dr. Ulrike Zartler, PD
Institut für Soziologie, Universität Wien
+43 1 4277 48244
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