Blog | November 2, 2021

Ohio Advocates Celebrate Lights On Afterschool 2021

Chief Richard Butsko explains why afterschool programs are valuable crime prevention tools

The Ohio Afterschool Network met with allies, including Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Ohio, to speak with state lawmakers to celebrate Lights on Afterschool, an annual event to underscore the importance of out-of-school time programs for school-aged kids.

The event featured speakers from afterschool programs, the Children’s Hunger Alliance, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and Fight Crime: Invest in Kids member and Grove City Police Chief Richard Butsko, who discussed the role of afterschool programs in preventing crime.

Chief Richard Butsko giving a presentation on afterschool

In Ohio, juvenile crime peaks between 2-6 PM on school days, with about 28 percent of all juvenile crime on those days occurring during the hours following the final school bell. Providing kids with high-quality activities and programs outside of school hours not only helps prevent them from getting mixed up in crime, but also helps prevent them from being victims of dangerous situations.

Research from Fight Crime: Invest in Kids shows that afterschool programs are proven to keep children safe and build their academic, social, and emotional skills in a number of critical ways. Research also shows that high-quality afterschool programming can reduce rates of kids dropping out of school and, at the same time, increase graduation rates.

Many law enforcement agencies across Ohio and the country partner with afterschool programs as a way to foster more positive, personal relationships between officers and youth in the communities they serve. This is an important way for officers to not only better understand their communities and the challenges those communities face, but also to have a positive impact on young people, and to interact with them in a setting outside the criminal justice system.

It is vital that we all do our part to help more kids access the life-altering benefits of high-quality afterschool programs.

Chief Richard Butsko

Chief Butsko shared that in his police career, he has seen many kids who rely on school and the afterschool programs as their best and safest time of their day. Because juvenile crime peaks between 2-6 PM, afterschool programs are crucial to help children stay on the path to success.

In his remarks to lawmakers, Chief Butsko also stated, “from my perspective as a law enforcement leader, one of the smartest public safety investments we can make is to increase access to high-quality afterschool programming. It is vital that we all do our part to help more kids access the life-altering benefits of high-quality afterschool programs. If we do that, Ohio’s children will be better off, and our state will be stronger and safer in the years to come.”

The event marked important collaboration across advocacy groups to ensure children have access to these important programs that are proven to keep young Ohioans safe.


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