After School: Still the Prime Time for Juvenile Crime in Vermont
Afterschool Fights Crime in Vermont
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 Vermont
In Vermont, juvenile crime peaks from 2 to 6 p.m. on school days, with about 30 percent of all juvenile crime on those days occurring during the hours following the last school bell.
Program Highlight: Expanded Learning Opportunities, Burlington
The Burlington School District’s 2016-17 strategic plan identified the need to incorporate restorative practices (RP), with the goal of creating an equitable climate and culture for students and staff that would focus on relationship-building, as well as keeping students in the classroom and minimize disruptions to learning, such as suspension or expulsion. Burlington’s Expanded Learning Opportunities afterschool programs—currently serving 1,600 students in the Burlington area—are a critical partner in ensuring RP is well integrated into the lives of students. When the school district invested heavily in professional development for teachers and staff around the fundamentals of how to implement RP, afterschool program staff were included alongside teachers, social workers, principals, and other educational staff for in-service trainings and district-wide monthly collaborative meetings to deepen the skills and understanding of restorative practices. Expanded Learning Opportunities also works with partners at the Burlington Community Justice Center for professional development centered specifically on the application of restorative practices and afterschool.
Similar to the techniques employed during the school day, afterschool staff are incorporating de-escalation strategies and restorative questions when conflict arises.
Restorative practices are a natural fit for afterschool programs, where the program’s flexible structure can allow time and space for students, staff, and community members to engage more deeply with the process. According to Christy Gallese, Director of Expanded Learning Opportunities, programs are focused on preventing and repairing harm by building relationships and social capacity, improving problem solving skills, encouraging empathy, accountability, and ownership, and building interpersonal skills. Similar to the techniques employed during the school day, afterschool staff are incorporating de-escalation strategies and restorative questions when conflict arises. Youth focus on the action of doing things “with” one another and creating a sense of inclusion and community responsibility through shared agreements, and using circles to build community with students and staff. At the same time, students are able to develop their social and emotional competencies, like relationship skills, self-management, and responsible decision-making, which in turn help keep kids safe and make smart choices. “When students feel safe and feel like they’ll be heard and cared for, they’ll keep coming back and opening themselves up to trying new things,” remarked Christy Gallese. “And by having those adults that they trust in their lives, who can ensure that they are safe and healthy, they’re forming that strong relationship. The underlying foundation of restorative practices is relationship-building, and what better place for that to be happening than in afterschool?”
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