After School: Still the Prime Time for Juvenile Crime in Massachusetts
Afterschool Fights Crime in Massachusetts
The more than 5,000 law enforcement leaders around the nation who are members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, have long known that the hours immediately after school lets out, when parents are likely not available to supervise, are the prime time for juvenile crime. Over the past 20 years, law enforcement leaders across the country have relied on high-quality afterschool programs to provide supportive, stable, and enriching environments with caring adults that keep children and youth out of trouble and safe, while supporting their academic success, and social and emotional development.
The Prime Time for Juvenile Crime in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, juvenile crime peaks between 2-6 p.m. on school days, with about 26 percent of all juvenile crime on those days occurring during the hours following the last school bell.
Program Highlight: Teen Empowerment, Boston & Somerville
Since 1992, the Center for Teen Empowerment, Inc. has worked with high school-aged youth and young adults, oftentimes from low-income and high crime neighborhoods, to become change agents in their community. Through the afterschool and summer learning program, youth take part in positive social change initiatives, such as creating videos to highlight issues in the community, working with law enforcement to address community public safety, and taking part in local policy making initiatives. Youth connect with their peers, community leaders, and local organizations to build safer, healthier, and more just communities. One former youth participant remarks, “Without [Teen Empowerment], I would easily be in a gang, dead, or in prison. [Teen Empowerment] really affected the way I look at things…I stopped running around in the streets…soon I became the next guy to stand out as a positive influence.”
[Teen Empowerment] really affected the way I look at things…I stopped running around in the streets…soon I became the next guy to stand out as a positive influence.
Former Teen Empowerment youth participant
Teen Empowerment was established in Boston in 1992, and replicated in Somerville in 1994, in response to rising rates of youth substance abuse, gang involvement, and suicide. The promotion of youth leadership and civic engagement through Teen Empowerment’s social change initiatives has shown to be an effective strategy for violence prevention amongst Somerville’s low-income, urban youth. For example, Teen Empowerment’s youth-police initiatives generate constructive dialogue sessions between youth and police, with 80 percent of surveyed program participants believing that their work made interactions between youth and police more respectful. Moreover, an evaluation of the Somerville program conducted by Dr. Russell Schutt at UMASS Boston found the city’s high crime neighborhoods saw a 50 percent reduction in juvenile crime as a result of Teen Empowerment.
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