Do extra-curricular activities help prevent delinquency

March 23rd, 2008 - 2:06 pm ICT by admin  

London, March 23 (IANS) Parents concerned about the involvement of their teenaged children in risky or criminal behaviour have traditionally involved their kids in sports and community activities. Do those activities really help prevent risky behaviour in youth? Do they affect boys and girls differently? The answers to these questions are mixed, according to a new study that could help parents and youth workers design effective delinquency prevention plans.

The study by researchers of the Northeastern University found that while involvement in extra-curricular activities definitely minimised “risky behaviour”, there was a “tipping point”, where too much participation had a counter-effect.

Findings of the study, titled ‘Social Control, Serious Delinquency and Risky Behaviour: A Gendered Analysis’, has been published in the latest issue of the journal Crime & Delinquency.

The study looked separately at delinquency and risky behaviour for both boys and girls and how involvement in outside activities influenced their behaviours.

It found that non-traditional activities for each gender provided greater protection from delinquency. Researchers felt that extra-curricular activity helped prevent delinquency by reducing unstructured time, providing incentives to conform, and creating avenues for attachments with other pro-social peers and adults.

“Young people who participate in sports and community activities report significantly less serious delinquency as well as less drinking and risky sexual behaviour,” said co-author Sean P. Varano, Ph.D.

“A healthy and measured dose of involvement in extracurricular activities is good for young people.”

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