Can involvement in extra-curricular activities help prevent juvenile delinquency?

March 22, 2008

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 published by SAGE in Crime & Delinquency studies those questions, helping parents and youth workers design effective delinquency prevention plans.

The study, conducted by Northeastern University researchers, looked separately at delinquency and risky behaviors for both young men and young women in a suburban high school and how involvement in outside activities influenced those behaviors. The findings provided interesting, and, in some cases, surprising results.

While they found that involvement in extra-curricular activities definitely seemed to minimize the risky behaviors, there seemed to be a “tipping point” where too much participation had a counter-effect. They also found that nontraditional activities for each gender (such as sports for girls and church for boys) provided a greater protection from delinquency.

The researchers believe that extracurricular involvement helps deter 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 both community and church activities report significantly less serious delinquency as well as less problem drinking and risky sexual behavior,” writes co-author Sean P. Varano, Ph.D. “A healthy and measured dose of involvement in extracurricular activities is good for young people.”

Source: SAGE Publications

Explore further: Adolescent boys more prone to delinquency without a father

Related Stories

Adolescent boys more prone to delinquency without a father

November 24, 2011

( -- Adolescent boys are more prone to delinquency if they do not have a father figure in their lives, a University of Melbourne study has found, while adolescent girls seem unaffected by the presence or absence ...

Impact of positive parenting can last for generations

September 1, 2009

A new study that looks at data on three generations of Oregon families shows that "positive parenting" - including factors such as warmth, monitoring children's activities, involvement, and consistency of discipline - not ...

Intervention reduces delinquent teenage pregancy rates

June 1, 2009

A program aimed at reducing criminal behavior in juvenile justice teens has yielded a surprising side benefit. The program is also reducing the teens' rate of pregnancy, according to a new study out this week.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.