Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can Involvement In Extra-curricular Activities Help Prevent Juvenile Delinquency?

Date:
March 23, 2008
Source:
Northeastern University
Summary:
Parents concerned about their teens' involvement in risky and criminal behavior have traditionally involved their kids in sports, church and community activities. Do those activities really help prevent risky behaviors in youth? And do the activities affect boys and girls differently? New research in Crime & Delinquency studies those questions, helping parents and youth workers design effective delinquency prevention plans.

Parents concerned about their teens' involvement in risky and criminal behavior have traditionally involved their kids in sports, church and community activities. Do those activities really help prevent risky behaviors in youth? And do the activities affect boys and girls differently?

Previous research has shown that participating in extracurricular activities protects young men and women from risky behaviors and delinquency. This theory was confirmed in a recent study from researchers at Northeastern University’s College of Criminal Justice, but the results also offered a different perspective on how the same activities affect young men and women differently.

While it was previously believed that participation in sports would decrease delinquency in boys, it actually did not have a significant protective effect. However, the reverse was true for girls, whose risk for delinquent behavior was reduced significantly if they took part in sports. Other activities, such as church and after-school community activities, decreased the risk of delinquency in boys, but not for girls.

“This study set out to identify the factors that lead young men and women to fall into serious delinquency and risky behaviors,” said Sean Varano, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Northeastern. “We know that girls and boys have a number of different experiences as they mature, and it is important to understand those differences so that informed decisions can be made on how to protect them.”

The study, completed by Sean Varano, Ph.D., Amy Farrell, Ph.D., both from Northeastern, and Jeb Booth, Ph.D., formerly of Northeastern, examined the self-reported data from 1,400 teens from an upper middle class suburban neighborhood. By looking at both young men and women independently of one another, examining the social controls (parental, academic, etc.) and bonds developed inside the home, in the classroom and during extracurricular activities, it has become clear that they respond differently to certain social controls and activities.

Involvement in church and nonschool activities, for both young men and women, significantly protected them from serious delinquent behavior, which includes fighting, carrying a weapon or violence. However, it did not protect them from risky behavior, such as drinking, smoking or drunk driving.

The researchers also found that how students feel about their school environment also impact their risk of delinquent and risky behavior. Students who view their academic environment as positive are less like to be involved in serious delinquency or risky behavior. The converse is also true – when students feel negatively about their school, they are more likely to exhibit negative behavior. “The fact that this idea was confirmed by our research shows that positive and negative school environments are important for both urban and suburban schools,” said Amy Farrell, Principal Research Scientist and Associate Director of the Institute on Race and Justice at Northeastern.

This study also indicated that a “tipping point” may exist, a point at which too much involvement in extracurricular activities could actually increase levels of risky behavior and serious delinquency. What this may suggest is that the lack of time spent with parents and family might intensify the negative peer influences that the students are exposed to.

“The data clearly shows the need for a balance in students’ lives to best protect them from serious delinquency and risky behaviors,” added Varano. “With continued gender-specific research, better programs can be implemented with the goal of improving the school environment and reducing the incidence of risky behavior and delinquency for all students.”

The Crime & Delinquency article, "Social Control, Serious Delinquency, and Risky Behavior: A Gendered Analysis," written by Jeb A. Booth, Ph.D., formerly of Northeastern, Amy Farrell, Ph.D., and Sean P. Varano, Ph.D., both currently at Northeastern University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northeastern University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northeastern University. "Can Involvement In Extra-curricular Activities Help Prevent Juvenile Delinquency?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080321174211.htm>.
Northeastern University. (2008, March 23). Can Involvement In Extra-curricular Activities Help Prevent Juvenile Delinquency?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080321174211.htm
Northeastern University. "Can Involvement In Extra-curricular Activities Help Prevent Juvenile Delinquency?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080321174211.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins