Team PRIDE, Inc. will be a California nonprofit public benefit corporation whose purpose is to work with martial arts instructors, juvenile and family court judges, probation officers, children's attorneys, social workers, teachers and other professionals to make special after-school programs available to at-risk children in order to combat juvenile delinquency, eliminate prejudice and discrimination, promote educational accomplishment, reduce substance abuse, relieve the poor and distressed, lessen the burdens of government, and perform other charitable and educational activities on behalf of low-income and particularly minority children and their families nationwide.
The juvenile crime rate has fallen nationally in recent years, but juvenile crime remains a problem. In 1998, children between the ages of 12 and 17 committed 616,000 serious violent crimes in the United States-a rate of 27 crimes for every 1,000 juveniles in that age range.1 The following year, juveniles were responsible for 12.4% of all violent crime committed nationwide.2
As children grow older, they are more likely to be charged with criminal conduct. In 1997, children younger than thirteen were responsible for 26% of juvenile delinquency case nationwide; thirteen- and fourteen-year-olds accounted for 10%.3 By contrast, children older than fourteen made up 63% of the delinquency caseload.4
Arrest rates among racial minorities are disproportionately high. Although only 15% of all juveniles nationwide were black in 1999, black children accounted for 27% of property crime arrests and 57% of arrests for violent crime.5 Black youth were also much more likely than whites to be held in detention facilities. In 1997, 44% of cases where detention resulted involved black juveniles, even though black youth comprised only 31% of all delinquency cases that year.6 "This overrepresentation was greatest for drug offenses," according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention: "black youth accounted for 32% of all drug cases processed but 55% of drug cases detained."7 Overall, being black rather than white doubles a child's chances of being held in secure detention.8
There are several risk factors for juvenile delinquency. Addressing these risk factors could help reduce delinquency.
Children who have been abused or neglected are far more likely than other children are to commit delinquent acts.9 According to the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, 70% of children in juvenile court have been abused or neglected. Among prison inmates, 70-80% have a history of child abuse or neglect.10
Drug use is another risk factor for delinquency. A recent study found that 34-44% of males who were characterized as "serious delinquents" also were persistent drug users; the same was true of 46-48% of female delinquents.11 Use of cigarettes, alcohol and tobacco increases as children grow older. In 1999, 8% of eighth-graders smoked cigarettes daily, 15% drank heavily, and 12% used illicit drugs.12 Among tenth-graders, 16% were daily smokers, 26% were heavy drinkers, and 22% were drug users.13 By twelfth grade, the figures were 23% for cigarettes, 31% for alcohol and 26% for illicit drugs.14
Educational problems are a third risk factor for juvenile delinquency. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention notes that "[a] long history of research has demonstrated a relationship between school problems (poor academic performance, truancy, and dropping out) and delinquency."15 Given this connection, efforts to decrease juvenile delinquency need to address children's educational needs.
The school performance gap between whites and racial minorities has long been a cause for concern among educators. One study notes, "White students consistently have had higher reading and mathematics scores than either black or Hispanic students at ages 9, 13, and 17."16 Similarly, black and Hispanic students are more likely than are whites to drop out of high school. The high school completion rate among whites was 90% in 1998, slightly higher than the 81% rate among blacks and much higher than the 63% rate among Hispanics.17
Given these disparities, it is unsurprising that young racial minorities encounter joblessness more frequently than white youth. In 1999, according to a report from ChildStats.gov, "13 percent of black, non-Hispanic youth and 14 percent of Hispanic youth were neither in school nor working, compared with 6 percent of white, non-Hispanic youth."18 This detachment from school and work becomes especially pronounced among older adolescents: The percentage of all youth who were neither enrolled in school nor working in 1999 was only 4% among sixteen- to seventeen-year-olds but jumped to 13% among eighteen- to nineteen-year-olds.19
Juvenile delinquency imposes enormous costs on society and on the local, state and federal governments. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reports that in from 1988 to 1997, the number of delinquency cases handled by juvenile courts nationwide increased by 48% to an astonishing 1.8 million cases involving 1.2 million individual juveniles. The result is that in 1997, juvenile courts were processing 1,600 more cases each day than they were nine years earlier.20 This increase requires greater government expenditures on public safety, law enforcement, criminal investigations, prosecutions, judicial resources, incarceration, probation services and other court supervision. It exacts a toll both on the victims of juvenile crime and on the families of juveniles accused of criminal conduct. And when children face delinquency charges their schooling often is interrupted, increasing the likelihood that they will fail to complete high school--which can lead to unemployment, poverty and future criminal activity, all of which cause a further strain on government resources.
Team PRIDE's purpose is to work with martial arts instructors, juvenile and family court judges, probation officers, children's attorneys, social workers, teachers and other professionals to make special after-school programs available to at-risk children in order to accomplish the following goals:
Team PRIDE will contract with highly-qualified, specially-certified martial arts instructors who are trained to offer a nationally-recognized after-school program to at-risk youth nationwide. The program, which is called Karate for Kids, combines mentorship and leadership with the traditions of the Songahm Taekwondo to teach children Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Discipline and Excellence (PRIDE).
The Karate for Kids program was developed by the American Taekwondo Association to help children build "strong bodies and clear minds." The American Taekwondo Association (ATA) is an international martial arts organization with over 800 schools in North America, serving over 150,000 students. The ATA oversees curriculum development for the Songahm style of Taekwondo, which is a Korean martial art. To earn ATA certification, Taekwondo instructors undergo rigorous training in pedagogy, class management and other skills. Only ATA-certified instructors are licensed to offer the Karate for Kids program.
The Karate for Kids program teaches goal-setting, develops important values, and provides incentives and rewards for educational and other accomplishments. Instructors are trained to present the Taekwondo curriculum and to teach values in a secular and age-appropriate manner. Class exercises, illustrative stories and supporting materials are designed to match the physical and cognitive level of the students. The values that are central to Karate for Kids classes are conveyed in several ways:
All children enrolled in the Karate for Kids program sew a V-shaped patch (for "victory") on their Taekwondo uniforms. Instructors attach stars to each child's Karate for Kids patch as a reward for demonstrating positive values and constructive behavior at the Taekwondo center, at school, and at home.
Children earn blue stars by demonstrating values like courtesy, self-control, confidence and discipline in the Karate for Kids classroom. Gold stars are awarded for academic progress in school, especially for improvement from one report card to the next. And silver stars are a reward for "special performances" at home or in the community. These "special performances" can include helping around the house (washing dishes, making their own bed, learning to tie their shoes), contributing to the community (selling raffle tickets for a charity, participating in a math-a-thon), or anything else that the children and their guardians feel is important.
The Star System teaches children to set realistic goals for self-improvement. Children and their guardians are encouraged to meet regularly with the Karate for Kids instructor to agree on certain goals and discuss exactly what the children need to do in order to accomplish those goals and earn stars. The goals are individualized to meet the needs and challenge the abilities of every child. Parents or guardians complete regular written evaluations to inform the instructor of their children's progress toward meeting the goals.
The Taekwondo classes teach non-aggressive, disciplined behavior. The physical movements that students learn have practical self-defense applications, but the classes are structured to reinforce at all times the need for self-control, discipline and respect. Students bow to one another before and after working together. They call each other and their instructors "sir" and "ma'am" in order to maintain an atmosphere of respect. They wear special traditional white uniforms to reinforce the importance of clearing their minds and developing a new mode of conduct. At the beginning and end of each class they recite the following "student oath":
Each day I will live by honoring my parents and instructors
Karate for Kids students are taught to control their bodies at all times, and to practice the values embodied by the acronym PRIDE: Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Discipline and Excellence.
To people whose understanding of the martial arts comes from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers and Jackie Chan movies, the idea that Taekwondo training can reduce aggressive behavior may seem counterintuitive. But Karate for Kids instructors have seen the beneficial effects of Taekwondo training on thousands of children, and a growing body of psychological evidence confirms their experience. In study after study, martial arts training is associated with diminished aggression, increased self-esteem, and a reduction in delinquent behavior.
A study of children enrolled in the American Taekwondo Association's Karate for Kids program found an inverse relationship between aggression and time in the program: As children advanced through the ranks, their aggressiveness (based on rankings by their parents) decreased.21 A separate study concluded that self-esteem increases as students advance in a martial arts program.22 And a cross-sectional study found an array of positive effects from Taekwondo training: improved self-esteem, lower anxiety, a heightened sense of responsibility and increased "social intelligence."23 Because low self-esteem is often a cause of aggressiveness, the authors of this last study suggested that martial arts training can reduce the latter by increasing the former.24 Furthermore, a review of the psychological literature concludes that martial arts programs are more effective than other physical activities at reducing aggression and hostility and increasing self-esteem, self-control and self-confidence.25
Unsurprisingly, these beneficial effects of martial arts training have been found to decrease delinquent behavior. In a longitudinal study, children who exhibited several psychological risk factors upon entering a Taekwondo program were found to have increased self-esteem and decreased anxiety and aggressiveness after just six months. A year later, the students were less likely to be delinquent than those in the control group.26
During the next ten years, Team PRIDE, Inc., will offer the following services and programs:
Team PRIDE will contract with Taekwondo instructors nationwide to offer Karate for Kids classes to low-income and predominantly minority children. PRIDE Karate Kid Vouchers will be available to any eligible "at risk" children. These include children from low-income families, children in foster care, children who have been abused or neglected, children receiving special educational services or experiencing academic difficulties, and other children referred by clergy, probation officers, police officers, teachers and other professionals.
Team PRIDE will offer eligible children full or partial PRIDE Karate Kid Vouchers to subsidize their participation in Karate for Kids programs at membership rates that Team PRIDE negotiates with instructors. The full vouchers will cover complete participation in the program, including tuition and necessary equipment. Partial vouchers will cover a portion of those costs; partial voucher recipients will pay the difference between their voucher amount and the full membership rate as negotiated by Team PRIDE.
Instructors will be expected to integrate TEAM Pride children fully into their Karate for Kids program, offering them the complete range of instruction and services. These include rank promotions, tournament participation, leadership training and the use of the Star System to promote positive values and constructive behavior.
Team PRIDE will contracts with Taekwondo instructors nationwide to offer a special martial arts career development program to at-risk adolescents. Low-income children between the ages of 15 and 17, generally those beginning their junior year of high school, will eligible for this vocational training program, which is designed to prepare them to pursue careers as martial arts instructors upon their graduation from high school.
During the course of the two-year PRIDE Leadership Careers program, participants will complete over 200 hours of Taekwondo training; over 50 hours of classroom instruction in teaching skills, communications skills and specialty areas; over 200 hours of staff training and 200 hours of apprenticeship teaching. By the end of the first year, participants will be qualified to assist a certified instructor in running a Karate for Kids program. By the end of the second year, they will be certified to run such a program themselves.
Successful graduates of the PRIDE Leadership Careers program will have the opportunity either to pursue careers running their own for-profit martial arts schools or to open a Team PRIDE Training Center (see below) providing instruction to elementary school-aged children in underserved neighborhoods.
Team PRIDE will employ graduates of the PRIDE Leadership Careers program (above) to offer Karate for Kids classes to low-income children in underserved areas. These graduates will run PRIDE Training Centers in elementary schools, YMCA facilities, Boys & Girls Clubs and churches.
The PRIDE Training Centers will serve the same target populations, and offer the same services, as the PRIDE Karate Kid Vouchers described above. The difference is that instructors at PRIDE Training Centers will be graduates of the PRIDE Leadership Careers program, and they will operate as employees of Team PRIDE rather than as independent martial arts school owners. PRIDE Training Centers will be non-commercial, nonprofit martial arts schools that make the benefits of Karate for Kids classes available to children whose financial circumstances exclude them from the commercial martial arts market.
Team PRIDE will cooperate with an array of parties in juvenile and family court systems to offer the benefits of Karate for Kids to at-risk children. PRIDE Intervention Services will target children who are under the jurisdiction of juvenile or family courts either because they face juvenile delinquency proceedings or because they are involved in dependency (child abuse or neglect) proceedings.
PRIDE Intervention Services will enroll court-involved at-risk children in Karate for Kids classes either as a condition of probation (in delinquency cases) or as part of a court-ordered treatment plan (in dependency cases). Probation is used with increasing frequency both at the "front end" (for juveniles accused of minor delinquency but not yet adjudicated) and at the "back end" (as an alternative to incarceration for juveniles adjudicated delinquent).27 Between 1988 and 1997, the number of juveniles receiving probation in delinquency cases grew 48%, from 435,300 to 645,600 children nationwide.28 Fifty-five percent of all adjudicated delinquency cases result in formal probation.29 A recent report on probation concluded that probation services would be much more effective if probation departments were to pursue partnership with community services: "Working with the community reduces recidivism and increases public safety. It also provides greater success in securing offender compliance with and completing probation."30 PRIDE Intervention Services will provide a link between probation departments and martial arts programs, in order to promote successful outcomes for the growing numbers of children on probation.
Team PRIDE will facilitate productive relationships between Taekwondo instructors and the various actors in the juvenile justice and child abuse and neglect systems: Judges, probation departments, child protective services officials, public defenders, district attorneys and guardians ad litem, dependency attorneys and social workers. Team PRIDE will educate these officials about the benefits of Karate for Kids classes. It also will provide Taekwondo instructors with training to help them understand the delinquency and dependency systems so that they can work effectively within those systems to identify and serve at-risk children.
Team PRIDE will cooperate with educators to offer the benefits of Karate for Kids to at-risk children. The PRIDE in Schools program will inform teachers and counselors of the benefits of Karate for Kids classes and will invite them to refer eligible children to a PRIDE Training Center or to a school that contracts with Team PRIDE to honor PRIDE Karate Kid Vouchers.
In particular, the PRIDE in Schools program is intended will target children enrolled in special education classes. By working with special education teachers and "IEP Teams," Team Pride will integrate Karate for Kids into children's special education services by including a Team PRIDE program in the child's Individualized Education Program (IEP).
The programs described above will be implemented according to the following timeline:
The Star System used in the Karate for Kids program provides Team PRIDE, Inc., with a convenient mechanism for evaluating the organization's progress toward fulfilling the purposes and goals described above. Stars are awarded to children in the Karate for Kids program on the basis of precisely the types of conduct that Team PRIDE aims to promote: academic accomplishment, constructive behavior and the development of positive values. Furthermore, the stars are awarded on the basis of individualized goals that the children set on a regular basis. Team PRIDE will provide Karate for Kids instructors with technical assistance to enable them to work with probation officers, teachers and other child service professionals in order to establish goals that meet the children's particular needs in the context of Team PRIDE's purposes.
For example, a child who is referred to Team PRIDE by a juvenile court when he is placed on probation will be encouraged to set goals for behavior that will ensure successful completion of probation. A child referred by a special education teacher will set goals that coincide with the goals of the child's Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Fulfillment of these goals will earn the children gold and silver stars on their Karate for Kids "victory" patches.
By maintaining complete and accurate records both of the children's goals and of the stars that they earn by fulfilling those goals, Team PRIDE can evaluate its own success in promoting academic achievement and in addressing the risk factors for juvenile delinquency. The children's goals will be designed to promote Team PRIDE's purposes. When they meet their goals, the children will earn stars. The record of stars earned will therefore reflect on Team PRIDE's success in fulfilling its purposes.
In addition, Team PRIDE will solicit reports from children's parents, guardians and child service professionals in order to track their rates of educational progress, high school completion, employment, substance abuse problems, probation completion, and delinquency arrests. By receiving these reports on a regular basis, Team PRIDE will develop longitudinal evidence of its progress toward fulfilling its purposes and goals.
Evaluation will be further aided by Team PRIDE's use of pilot programs. As the timeline above indicates, Team PRIDE's programs and services generally will be introduced at a single location in California or Arizona. After approximately two years, the programs will be expanded nationwide. This pilot system will enable to Team PRIDE to evaluate the effectiveness of its programs in the laboratory of a single location, so that the program can be improved and refined before it is replicated elsewhere.
Team PRIDE expects to receive funding for its programs and services from a variety of sources.
The Karate for Kids program is a unique intervention that offers children an exciting physical activity while providing them with positive role models, a structured and disciplined after-school environment, and incentives and rewards for self-improvement in all arenas of their lives. Team PRIDE, Inc., will bring these benefits to low-income children who stand to benefit more than anyone from such programs but who are generally excluded from the commercial martial arts market. Working with parents, educators, probation officers, juvenile attorneys, and other child service professionals, Team PRIDE will help children set--and reach--goals that meet their individual educational and behavioral needs.
Team PRIDE's programs and services combine disciplined martial arts training, mentorship, leadership development, and close cooperation with the court and educational systems. This combination will enable Team PRIDE to identify "at risk" children and intervene positively in their lives. For adolescents in the PRIDE Leadership Career program, this intervention can lead to a career as martial arts instructors. For other children, it can provide the focus and support necessary to complete high school and find productive employment. And for others it can teach the self-control and self-respect needed to avoid substance abuse. For all of these children, it will help them develop PRIDE -- Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Discipline and Enthusiasm. By addressing the risk factors for criminal behavior and by offering a training program proven to reduce aggression, Team PRIDE will combat juvenile delinquency in communities nationwide.
© 2001- Jordan Schreiber