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Research shows after-school programs can help keep your kids out of trouble

Posted at 10:27 AM, Aug 25, 2020

Implementing community outreach in any neighborhood can help deter crime, especially among younger people.

In particular, there are many positive effects of extracurricular activities and after school programs on students and their behavior.

Extracurricular activities are activities that students participate in that do not fall into the realm of normal curriculum of schools.

This is important because a young person's future can be determined in the things that they do in the hours after school and before their parents get home.

Not only do extracurricular activities instill great values like teamwork, responsibility and a sense of community, they have also been proven to boost school attendance, academic success and aspirations for continuing education past high school.

Students that participate in extracurricular activities, like sports, have reduced behavior problems, according to College of DuPage's Erin Massoni.

"In sports, they show discipline in drills, practices, and routines. They have a responsibility to perform those tasks correctly, whether it is basketball of football plays, dance routines, or signals in baseball. When students perform these things correctly they are rewarded for their good behavior and they take pride in their accomplishments. Because of the pride they achieve, they gain better self respect, self esteem, and self confidence," Massoni said.

Generally, the most dangerous time for bad behavior that could lead to crime is the time after school and before parents get home, usually between 3PM and 7PM.

"This is the time when they are at the most risk at committing violent acts and victimization," Massoni says.

The ages that usually are involved in poor behavior during this time are between 12 and 17-years-old.

Between the ages of 9 and 17 are when kids learn to make their own decisions and control their behavior.

"This is a crucial time for students to be in extracurricular activities because they are under supervision, guidance, and they are in engaged and enriched learning experiences," Massoni's research shows. "They are then better able to resist unsafe behaviors such as drug and alcohol use, gang involvement, and criminal activities."

According to research, middle school students who regularly participated in after-school programs reported reduced use of drugs and alcohol, compared to those in the low supervision group.

Another positive benefit of participation in after-school programs is the social aspect.

Participation in after-school programs put youth among other peers who are also trying to stay out of trouble and use their after school time productively.

After school programs can even lead to the opportunity to work with diverse peers and adults in projects that impact their larger community.