After School: Still the Prime Time for Juvenile Crime in Kentucky
Afterschool Fights Crime in Kentucky
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 Kentucky
In Kentucky, juvenile crime peaks between 2-6 p.m. on school days, with about 25 percent of all juvenile crime on those days occurring during the hours following the last school bell.
Program Highlight: Boys and Girls Club, Harlan County
As the opioid epidemic swept over eastern Kentucky, rural Harlan County was no exception. In 2001, as the community began dealing with the ramifications of rising rates of prescription drug misuse and abuse, a group of parents interested in creating a safe environment for youth after school came together to form the Harlan County Youth Sports League. As one of the only afterschool programs in the area, the program quickly realized the need to expand its services, chartering as a Boys and Girls Club in 2003. Since the outset, Harlan County Boys and Girls Club has been intentional in their work to break the cycle of addiction. Initially, youth programming focused on education and prevention efforts, such as helping youth learn how addiction affects their families and friends. However, after a wave of parent overdose deaths, the Club adapted its programming to include additional support services, like one-on-one mentoring and grief counseling, to help youth identify healthy ways to cope with the traumatic effects of the opioid crisis.
Building relationships with youth and combating our drug problem are the two most important things we can do as law enforcement officers.
Harlan City Police Officer Will Clogston
Program Director Kateena Haynes says that over the years, she has seen a reduction in the misuse of prescription drugs among students; however, there is still a strong need to support children in the community impacted by the opioid epidemic. The Club partners with the local police department to ensure that youth have this strong support system. Harlan City Police Officer Will Clogston says, “Building relationships with youth and combating our drug problem are the two most important things we can do as law enforcement officers…The Boys and Girls Club is breaking down barriers between young people and law enforcement.”
Teens, parents, and program staff agree on the positive impact of police engagement in Club activities, saying that they feel like police officers are invested in the community as a whole, and care about the wellbeing of youth. One parent remarked, “My child … wanted to be an officer when he grew up. After some bad choices by family members leading to police being called, that dream changed. He began to associate police with bad things happening. After attending summer camp this summer and interacting with law enforcement … his dream is back. He wears his junior badge proudly and plans to be a police officer when he grows up.”
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