After-school programs prevent violence

A rash of high profile incidents, including the deadly beating of Chicago honor student Derrion Albert, has a highlighted a sad reality: In the hours immediately following school, youth are more likely to become victims and perpetrators of violent crimes.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, juveniles were arrested for 10 percent of all murder cases, 15 percent of all rape cases, 27 percent of all burglaries and robberies, 25 percent of all motor vehicle theft, and 47 percent of arson cases.

These dire statistics can and have been changed through the introduction of quality extended-day learning opportunities, as attendees learned at Saturday’s session “Promoting School Safety and Preventing Youth Violence through Afterschool Programs.”

Led by Aaron Dorsey, who heads NSBA’s Extended-Day Learning Opportunity (EDLO) program, and Adam Alonso, executive director of Corazon Community Services, a social services organization in suburban Chicago, the Saturday session showed educators how after-school programs can not only decrease the incidence of crimes during the peak hours of 3 and 6 p.m., but can also increase student performance and improve student behavior and attendance.

A 2007 study found that math scores for elementary students in after-school programs were higher than the majority of grade-schoolers in unsupervised settings most days of the week. The students who regularly attended after-school programs also improved their work habits and task persistence.

Though the approaches may vary, EDLOs generally blend academic support with a mix of mentoring, sports, enrichment or extracurricular activities. Like all educational opportunities, the best offerings are the ones that are tailored to each school and community’s needs, Dorsey said.

Educators who attended the session left equipped with knowledge about potential funding for afterschool programs, methods and materials for teachers, principals, and afterschool directors, strategies for building partnerships toward this endeavor. All of this information can also be found at NSBA’s EDLO online resource center.

Naomi Dillon|April 11th, 2010|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2010, School Board News, Student Achievement|

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