Youth Violence Interventions
Supervised After-school Recreation
After-school recreation programs seek to
occupy childrens time, give them a sense of belonging and impart good social
values in an organized setting. They also provide opportunities for interaction
with responsible, caring adults. Programs like the Boys and Girls Clubs are good
examples of this approach.
"After-school" hours are a high-risk
time for youth. Rates of juvenile offending during the hours of 2 to 6 PM are four
times higher than during late-night/early morning "curfew hours" (LeBoef and Brennan
1996). Involving youth in organized
sports and other activities gives children opportunities to develop friendships
with other youth in a relatively safe setting. Programs of this sort are widely
accepted by the public and parents alike.
Unfortunately, evaluations to date have not
been clear-cut. Most have employed quasi-experimental group designs with non-comparable
control groups (OJJDP 1995). For example, an evaluation of a large after-school
program in Ottawa, Ontario suggests that programs can have substantial, albeit short-term
effects on rates of juvenile crime. Rates of juvenile offending in a housing complex
where the intervention was applied fell by 75%, compared to a 67% increase in the
comparison (control) project. However, the two projects differed in other respects
that could have confounded results. Furthermore, reported differences in rates of
juvenile crime narrowed considerably 16 months after the program was concluded (Jones 1989). This suggests that programs of this sort work by keeping
youth occupied, rather than engendering long-term behavioral change.