After-school programs do not reduce delinquent behaviors such as stealing, fighting, and drug use, says a study in the new issue of the journal Criminology and Public Policy. University of Maryland researchers Amanda Brown Cross, Denise Gottfredson, Denise Wilson and Melisssa Rorie and Rowan University's Nadine Connell suggest that the reason for some programs' failure to reduce youth problem behaviors could be explained by the fact that the programs did not target delinquency-prone youths otherwise engaged in unsupervised after-school socializing.
In the same journal, Deborah Capaldi of the Oregon Social Learning Center warns that in some programs, peers often reinforce each others' deviant behaviors. Shay Bilchik of Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute Center for Juvenile Justice Reform urges caution in accepting after-school programs as “silver bullets” for solving the problem of youth crime. The organization Fight Crime, Invest In Kids, which advocates after school programs, said that Boys and Girls Clubs have run programs with good staff members that have attracted at-risk older kids and cut crime. The Fight Crime group said, “Are enough programs doing this? Definitely not. But it can (and has) been done right.” The journal is available only to subscribers; journalists who want access should message Ted Gest at firstname.lastname@example.org.