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After-school programs for delinquency prevention: A systematic review and meta-analysis

This article reports on the results of a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of after-school programs (ASPs) on delinquency. Mixed results from some well-known evaluations, a wide range of modalities, and continued interest in and demand for this social intervention motivated this review. A rigorous criteria for inclusion of studies was developed, comprehensive search strategies were employed to identify eligible studies (published and unpublished), and a protocol was followed for coding of key study features. Meta-analytic techniques were used to assess the impact of ASPs on delinquency and investigate study features associated with variation in effects. Seventeen studies--based on 17 independent samples--met the inclusion criteria. All but two of the studies were multimodal, involving primary and secondary interventions. Studies could be grouped into one of the three primary intervention types: academic, recreation, and skills training/mentoring. There was evidence that ASPs had a small but non-significant effect on delinquency, with a weighted mean d = 0.062 (95% confidence interval: [-0.098, 0.223]). Moderator analyses indicated that not one of the intervention types was associated with a significant effect on delinquency. Nothing in the present review suggests that ASPs--of any type--should be discontinued. But business as usual does not seem in order for ASPs with a focus on delinquency prevention. Several research priorities could go some way toward addressing this, including further high-quality evaluations targeted on the three main types of ASPs and a special focus on program fidelity. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Literature Review

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