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Attention to preschoolers will lower crime

Your article about early childhood education raised one key question for me: How much do we care for the youngest children in our community (“Next step tour stops in Natchez,” March 25)?

Clearly, children benefit from quality early learning, as do their parents, so these programs deserve our support. As your chief of police, I want to add an important P.S. to the article: The better the care and education of our youngest kids and the more that we invest in the training and capabilities of the caregivers and preschool teachers, the less crime we will see in our community.

Consider what researchers found in Ypsilanti, Mich., at the Perry Preschool Program. They followed a group of at-risk children over the course of 40 years, comparing children who attended the program with those who did not. The children who were enrolled in the preschool program were 44 percent more likely to graduate from high school while those who were left out of the program were five times more likely to become repeat offenders.

My own experience supports this research. If we get kids started on the right track with high-quality early education and care, they are much more likely to arrive in school ready to learn, making them more likely to stay in school and graduate.

And if they graduate with skills, they are far less likely to turn to crime. The best way to fight crime and keep our communities safe is to give our kids the right start in life. There is no doubt about it.

Michael G. Mullins

Natchez police chief

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