Category/Theme: Enhancing Physical, Social, and Economic Environments to Improve Health Equity and Development and Testing of Interventions
Introduction:Structured use of afterschool time, including adult-on-youth mentoring combined with experiential science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, are beneficial ingredients for programs serving at-risk youth. Positive mentoring relationships contribute to youths’ increased self-efficacy and social competence, with declines in problematic behaviors. Participation in engaging STEM education provides low-resource youth with career potential in a science-dominated economy. The national STEM Ed.-based, mentoring program, highlighted in this pilot program evaluation, is supported by major organizations (government, corporate) which invest in youth delinquency prevention.
Methods: A retrospective pre-post design will be used to examine the protective roles of STEM program involvement and adult-youth mentoring relationships on the early stages of delinquency pathways (Loeber, 2014). The program serves thousands of youth who qualify for participation by residence in high risk neighborhoods (HUD zones). Reports on programmatic benefits are limited to numbers of youth reached, youth reports of interest in science and educational outcomes with preliminary findings of improvement in mentor-mentee relationships after mentors were trained. Program features’ influence on delinquency, e.g., mentoring relationships, represent the next step in evaluation. Sample will be drawn from half of available program sites (13 urban program sites serving approximately 400 at-risk 5th through 10thgrade youth, with an expected 75% or N=300 response rate). Mean comparisons (t-tests, ANOVAs) followed by multiple regression analysis will be used.
Tested Hypotheses: H1. Youth participants’ time spent and involvement in the STEM mentoring program will be negatively associated with levels of self-reported delinquent behavior (measure of early delinquency involvement).
H2.Participant youths’ views of their mentor as focused on them (youth-centered mentoring) will be negatively associated with levels of self-reported delinquent behavior.
H3.Participant youths’ level of emotional engagement with their mentor will be negatively associated with levels of self-reported delinquent behavior.
Post Hoc tests will be performed if pre-test (perceptions before program involvement) to post-test reports of delinquent behaviors indicate mean reductions. Each predictor in H1 through H3 will be regressed on change in delinquent behaviors.
Conclusion: Mentoring relationships and participating in structured activities during out of school time are noteworthy in preventing youth delinquent behaviors. If behaviors within early stages of delinquency pathways are curtailed by mentoring relationships, severe delinquency involvement and associated costs may be avoided.