Youth Violence Interventions

Supervised After-school Recreation

After-school recreation programs seek to occupy children’s 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.