School’s started – What’s next?
Looking back, summer seems to have traveled by so fast. It feels like just a few days ago we were attending June’s graduation parties, finding things for our kids to do, and making summer vacation plans.
But now that our kids are back in school, have you thought about what they are doing after school?
Did you know that the most dangerous time for a student to fall victim to a crime is after school?
Crime statistics show that teens are at highest risk of becoming a victim of a violent crime in the hours immediately after school. This is also when teens are more likely to engage in risky behaviors like smoking, drinking, using drugs, or engaging in unsafe sexual activity. And victims of crime are more likely to drop out of school. In fact, www.afterschoolmatters.org reports that a student drops out of high school every 26 seconds.
A great way to combat kids dropping out of school, as well as afterschool crime, is to keep our kids busy and out of trouble. Afterschool programs are crucial in helping young people who are most at risk and searching for meaningful activities to keep them invested in their own success.
One study conducted by Northwestern University found that youth who participated in afterschool programs showed more positive youth development—specifically, significantly higher self-regulation and less problem behavior like selling drugs and participating in gang activity.
Another study, this one from the University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall Center for Children, found that kids who participate in afterschool programs were nearly two-and-a-half times more likely to graduate than students who did not participate. Those students had higher school attendance and fewer course failures than teens who did not participate in afterschool programs.
Here in Ukiah, we are lucky to have so many different ways for our kids to stay busy after school.
Teens can participate in school-sponsored activities like sports, performing arts, clubs, and academic tutoring. They can be involved with community-based activities like volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club or spending time at the Arbor on Main. Or maybe a part-time job fits the bill.
Please do not accept that a teen can’t find something productive to do. The Ukiah Daily Journal publishes volunteer opportunities every week; only our lack of imagination limits what we can do.
The goal is to help teens get involved with something. From arts to sports to volunteering, there’s so much! Consider team or individual sports, martial arts, performing arts, Boys & Girls Club, playing an instrument, tutoring, Math-Engineering-Science-Achievement (MESA), organized high school clubs, or volunteering.
Each of these activities provides teenagers with experience that can help them get a job, create a resume or complete a college application. Most importantly, these activities are proven to help keep young people in school and out of trouble.
While many teens with time on their hands make good choices, some don’t. We’d all like to think our sons and daughters won’t succumb to peer pressure or curiosity, but filling their time with positive activities reduces opportunities for risky behavior. Studies show that teens who do not participate in after school activities are nearly three times more likely to skip classes, or use marijuana or other drugs.
Being involved in after school programs also offers other intangibles–the opportunity to engage in activities that help young people realize they have something to contribute to the group; the opportunity to work with diverse peers and adults to create projects, performances and presentations that receive accolades from their families and the larger community; and the opportunity to develop a vision of life's possibilities that, with commitment and persistence, are attainable.
So as we start a new school year, please remember that keeping our kids busy after school really is important to their success—in school and beyond.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.
By: Chris Dewey – Chief of Police