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Community program reduces teen drinking, smoking, and violence

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The Communities That Care program has produced a significant reduction in teen drinking, smoking, and violence according to a report by J. David Hawkins, founding director of the Social Development Research Group that is affiliated with the University of Washington School of Social Work, and Richard Catalano, director of the University of Washington's Social Development Research Group, in the Dec. 9, 2013, edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics.

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The researchers tracked the behaviors of 4,500 fifth-grade students in 24 small towns and cities between 1,500 and 50,000 residents in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Oregon, Utah, and Washington for seven years.

About 50 percent of the communities practiced the Communities That Care program.

The towns and cities that followed the Communities That Care program saw a nine percent reduction in teen drinking, a seven percent reduction in teen smoking, and a nine percent reduction in fighting, vandalism, shoplifting, carrying a handgun, and being arrested.

The results indicate that every dollar spent on the Communities That Care program reduced policing, school, treatment, and health costs by $5.30.

The local stakeholders select previously proven methods that work to address the particular needs of their community after surveying teens in the community to identify the most prevalent risk factors for teens.

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