The Effects of Communities That Care On Community- Wide Protection
Methods: Data are from the Community Youth Development Study (CYDS), a community-randomized controlled trial of the CTC prevention system in twenty-four communities across seven states. As part of this study, a longitudinal panel of 4,407 students was assessed annually starting in grade 5. The present analyses examined data up to 8th grade, during the period when training and technical assistance were provided to CTC communities. Fifteen protective factors, specified in the social development model, were assessed using scales consisting of 2 to 6 items. Using three level hierarchical linear modeling, we examined differences in levels of protective factors among 8th graders in CTC compared to control communities adjusting for 5th grade levels of the protective factors and other individual- and community-level characteristics. Global test statistics (GTS) were used to examine the effect of CTC in overall levels of protection community-wide as well as the levels of protection in each domain.
Results: 8th graders in the panel from CTC communities had higher overall levels of protection compared to those from control communities (GTS t = 2.481, p = 0.021) after controlling for baseline levels and individual and community characteristics. When examining protection by domain, levels were significantly higher among CTC youth in the peer-individual (GTS t = 2.329, p = 0.029), school (GTS t = 2.234, p = 0.018), and community (GTS t = 2.328, p = 0.029) domains. Analyses of specific protective factors found that youths in the panel from CTC communities reported significantly higher levels of social skills (p = 0.025), interaction with prosocial peers (p = 0.050), recognition from school for prosocial involvement (p = 0.025), and opportunities for prosocial involvement in the community (p = 0.004).
Conclusion: This study found that the CTC prevention system can have a community-wide impact on levels of protective factors among adolescents. This lays the groundwork for further exploring the mechanisms through which CTC may affect positive youth development. The findings support the suggestion that prevention efforts can effectively focus both on reducing risk and enhancing protection in communities.