Could illiteracy and the lack of effective reading strategies be the hidden cause of crime?

Lauren Williams's picture
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The National Literacy Act of 1991 defines literacy as "an individual's ability to read, write, and speak in English and compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job and in society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential."

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, "Poor reading and writing skills have a devastating lifelong impact - 75% of school dropouts report reading problems, and at least half of adolescents and young adults with criminal records have reading difficulties.", the country's largest nonprofit for young people and social change says:

  • "Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare."
  • "Over 70 percent of America's inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level."
  • "Nearly 85 percent of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, proving that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime and more than 60 percent of all inmates are functionally illiterate."
  • "75 percent of Americans who receive food stamps perform at the lowest 2 levels of literacy, and 90 percent of high school dropouts are on welfare." 
  • "Teenage girls ages 16 to 19 who live at or below the poverty level and have below average literacy skills are 6 times more likely to have children out of wedlock than the girls their age who can read proficiently." 
  • "Reports show that low literacy directly costs the healthcare industry over $70 million every year."

"There are innovative proven solutions to these dire social and economic statistics," says Cathy Viney, Reading Strategies Expert and Executive Director of the nonprofit Applied Scholastics International at "For over four decades Applied Scholastics has been working with underperforming, illiterate youth and adults, teaching phonics, reading strategies, vocabulary, writing and comprehension skills transforming illiteracy to literacy. We call this program The Reading Strategies and Phonics Learning: Applied Scholastics Achievement Program™ (ASAP) based on the educational works of American author and educator, L. Ron Hubbard."

As most illiterate youth have fallen behind in academic content areas, the crucial strategy to implement in working with such youth has been to teach them the technology of how to learn. This technology, known as Study Technology, provides the tools and reading strategies for learning and mastering any subject as well as the pedagogy to guide students in applying them. It increases reading ability with an emphasis on vocabulary development and text comprehension. It generates the metacognitive ability required for effective and efficient learning and results in the mastery of academic content.

Viney adds, "The results of the Reading Strategies ASAP Program have been impressive, with 7th and 8th grade students having raised their percentage scores in reading between 19 and 30 points where the average rise in this testing system was 12 without ASAP."

She also states:

  • "High school students gained one full year of growth as determined by standardized testing in just two months of intervention."
  • "In one school disciplinary actions were reduced by 56% and the percentage of 8th grade students who were ranked as underperforming in math on testing was reduced from 54.5% to 23.7% with only 23 hours of intervention."

A free guide to the benefits of Applied Scholastics reading strategies, literacy and phonics programs and Study Technology is available at or call Toll free: 877-75-LEARN.

For media inquiries, contact Christine Gerson at (314) 344-6355

About Applied Scholastics International

The nonprofit Applied Scholastics International is a trusted authority on the subject of teaching strategies and proficiency based learning and provides timely and useful information so as to help teachers and schools improve the lives of ALL students of all ages including those negatively affected by learning difficulties and the social, economic and emotional issues associated with these difficulties. For more information, go to