A "crime summit" in Wellington next week is expected to hear a proposal for "behavioural health clinics" in every school to prevent children becoming criminals.

Professor Richie Poulton, who heads a life study of about 1000 people born in Dunedin in 1972 and 1973, will give the keynote address at the summit of about 100 groups next Friday aimed at addressing the "drivers of crime".

Justice Minister Simon Power, who will co-chair the one-day meeting at Parliament with Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, said delegates would then split into groups of 10 to identify the key factors causing offending, including Maori offending.

Suggestions would be sought on things that could prevent crime over the next two, five and 10 years.

Dr Poulton's key message is expected to be that efforts should be focused as early as possible in children's lives because children who are disruptive even at the age of 3 are more likely to go on later to crime and to poor mental and physical health.

He told a Treasury seminar last year that behavioural health clinics should be established in all schools, staffed by "a new cohort of psychologists [to] be recruited and specially trained to treat the specific behavioural needs of today's youth".

"School psychologists should carry the main treatment load of mild and moderate cases, but are in short supply," he said.

More severe cases would need to be referred on to specialised clinics in each school region. Extra psychologists would also be needed for these.

He also advocated a national school curriculum for "personal development and health", using computer-based programmes to teach children how to interact with others and how to handle issues such as stress, anxiety, depression and alcohol.

The director of social issues for the Psychological Society, Auckland educational psychologist Peter Coleman, said the Ministry of Education's Group Special Education employed only 100 to 150 educational psychologists at present to cover the country's 2600 schools and 4600 early childhood centres.

He said a computer-based programme would be useful but would need to be complemented by real-life experience. "It's not ideal for learning successfully about ways of behaving.

"You learn that in the community by ... having people show you how."