This study examined self-reports from two samples to assess the timing of delinquency and assess implications of the findings for after-school programs.
Data were obtained from two recent student surveys. One survey was the National Study of Delinquency Prevention in Schools (NSDPS), a national probability sample of the Nation's public and private schools during the 1997-98 school year. Data were also obtained from an ongoing evaluation of Maryland's After-school Community Grant Program (MASCGP). The MASCGP data were used solely to describe the characteristics of an after-school program population and to assess the timing of their delinquent activities. No attempt was made to assess the effectiveness of the after-school programs in which the youths were enrolled. The findings show that the after-school hours were a time of elevated delinquency, but the peak was modest compared with that observed in official records. Additionally, children who were unsupervised during the after-school hours -- the primary target population for after-school programs -- were found to be more delinquent at all times, not only after school. The findings suggest that factors such as social competencies and social bonding, in addition to inadequate supervision, produce delinquency during the after-school hours, and that the effectiveness of after-school programs for reducing delinquency will depend on their ability to address these other factors through appropriate and high quality services. 5 tables, 1 figure, and 50 references