Kevin Haggerty, acting director of the University of Washington’s Social Development Research Group in Seattle, presented results of a national study on the Communities That Care system to the Five Town CTC Community Coalition at its meeting Oct. 6 at the John’s St. Methodist Church in Camden.

The newly released data, according to a press release, indicated that 10th graders in towns using the CTC prevention system were less likely to have begun drinking or smoking if they hadn’t already initiated that behavior when compared to children in towns that had not adopted the system. Initiation of other delinquent behaviors, including stealing, vandalism and physical fights was also less likely in communities where the CTC system was being used.

The study tracked the behavior of 4,407 youths in 24 towns in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Half of the towns had been randomly assigned to receive training in the CTC system and were compared with towns of similar size and demographics that were not using the CTC system.

The results, published Oct. 3 in the “Journal of the American Medical Association’s Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine,” revealed that the above-noted decreases in risky behaviors were sustained even after outside financial and programmatic support for the CTC system was no longer being offered by the study.

Children in fifth through ninth grades in CTC towns participated in programs aimed to lower risks such as family conflict, low commitment to school and academic difficulties. In each town (or grouping of towns, as with Five Town CTC), a community coalition chose programs from a list of preventative interventions known to work. The STAR and Guiding Good Choices programs offered by Five Town CTC are examples of such programs.

The current analysis tracked these children through the end of 10th grade, one year after external support for CTC ended. Teens growing up in towns using the prevention system were half as likely to begin smoking by tenth grade if they hadn’t already started, and the overall number of tenth graders who were currently smoking was 21 percent less in non-CTC towns.

Tenth graders in CTC towns also reported 17 percent lower odds of initiating delinquent behavior such as stealing, vandalism and selling drugs, and 25 percent lower odds of beginning involvement in violent behavior.

Researchers also examined the financial implications of using the Communities That Care system. CTC was found to be a cost-beneficial intervention; for every $1 invested in CTC implementation, analysis indicated a likely return of $5.30 in reduction of costs to the communities and society.

“We now have even stronger scientific evidence to reinforce what we have been seeing locally — that CTC works,” said Five Town CTC Executive Director Dalene Dutton. “Since we began using the system in 2003 we have seen rates of alcohol use, cigarette use, binge drinking, and prescription drug abuse drop. Grade 12 prescription drug abuse by Camden Hills Regional High School students was 25 percent lower in 2010 than in 2006. Rates of violent behavior are even lower than they were as well. For example, the number of students reporting that they had attacked someone with the intent to do harm dropped from a 2004 rate of greater than 1 in 6 students in the twelfth grade to one in 25 in 2010. These numbers reflect changes in the lives of real kids, right here in the community.”

For more information on Five Town Communities That Care, visit or call 207-236-9800.