Assessing findings from the fast track study
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The aim of this paper is to respond to the Commentary, “Reassessing Findings from the Fast Track Study: Problems of Methods and Analysis” provided by E. Michael Foster (Foster, this issue) to our article “Fast Track Intervention Effects on Youth Arrests and Delinquency” (Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group 2010, Journal of Experimental Criminology, 6, 131–157). Our response begins with a description of the mission and goals of the Fast Track project, and how they guided the original design of the study and continue to inform outcome analyses. Then, we respond to the Commentary’s five points in the order they were raised.
We agree with the Commentary that efforts to prevent crime and delinquency are of high public health significance because the costs of crime and delinquency to society are indeed enormous. We believe that rigorous, careful intervention research is needed to accumulate evidence that informs prevention programs and activities. We have appreciated the opportunity to respond to the Commentary and to clarify the procedures and results that we presented in our paper on Fast Track effects on youth arrests and delinquency. Our response has clarified the framework for the number of statistical tests made, has reiterated the randomization process, has supported our tests for site-by-intervention effects, has provided our rationale for assuming missing at random, and has clarified that the incarceration variable was not included as a covariate in the hazard analyses. We stand by our conclusion that random assignment to Fast Track had a positive impact in preventing juvenile arrests, and we echo our additional caveat that it will be essential to determine whether intervention produces any longer-term effects on adult arrests as the sample transitions into young adulthood. We also appreciate the opportunity for open scientific debate on the values and risks associated with multiple analyses in long-term prevention program designs such as Fast Track. We believe that, once collected, completed longitudinal intervention datasets should be fully used to understand the impact, process, strengths, and weaknesses of the intervention approach. We agree with the Commentary that efforts to prevent crime and delinquency are of high public health significance because the costs of crime and delinquency to society are indeed enormous. As a result, we argue that it is important to balance the need to maintain awareness and caution regarding potential risks in the design or approach that may confound interpretation of findings, in the manner raised by the Commentator, with the need for extended analyses of the available data so we can better understand over time how antisocial behavior and violence can be effectively reduced.
KeywordsPrevention Conduct problems Criminal offenses
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