Note:  Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Brandon C. Welsh, College of Criminal Justice, Northeastern University, Churchill Hall, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: Early developmental prevention involves interventions designed to prevent the development of criminal potential in individuals, especially those that target risk and protective factors, in the early years of the life course. Developmental prevention is considered one of the major strategies in preventing delinquency and later offending. There is growing research support for this strategy. This article reviews the most important scientific evidence on the effectiveness of early developmental prevention programs at the individual and family levels. It uses the highest quality research studies (i.e., experiments and quasi-experiments) and review methods (i.e., systematic and meta-analytic). Our reviews show that there are a number of effective early prevention programs designed to tackle the most important risk factors for offending, from preschool intellectual enrichment to home visiting and parent management training. The article also identifies future directions for policy and research to aid in the development and implementation of early prevention programs.