After School: Still the Prime Time for Juvenile Crime in Wisconsin
Afterschool Fights Crime in Wisconsin
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 Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, juvenile crime peaks from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 2 to 6 p.m. on school days, with about 24 percent of all juvenile crime on those days occuring during the hours following the last school bell.
The crime peaks not occurring from 2 to 6 p.m. are largely due to much of law enforcement in those states recording youth criminal activity as having all occurred at only one hour during the day, often noon or midnight. This would artificially inflate the crime rate for that time period.
Program Highlight: Afterschool Programs, Milwaukee Public Schools
Afterschool programming in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is very unique as a result of the larger school system, the large number of programs, and the collaborative partnership that Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) has with community organizations. In 1998, MPS got involved with the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) grant program when the district recognized the disparity in academic achievement between lower-income and higher-income schools. Milwaukee quickly rose as an exemplary model as the school district partnered with numerous community-based organizations to expand and integrate their program offerings. They started with eight locations supported by 21st CLLC grants, which has since grown to 35 programs, all based in schools. In addition to 21st CCLC sites, Milwaukee also has a series of Safe Places, housed in community-based organizations; this particular model was created with the intention of keeping kids off the street and engaged in learning.
The best approach to keep youth safe is to keep them off the streets and engaged during the critical time after the school bell rings.
Leighton Cooper, Coordinator of Afterschool Programs for Milwaukee Public Schools
When the school bell rings and youth make their way to their afterschool programs, they are greeted by a meal or a snack, depending on the number of students at the program—almost all of the 21st CCLC programs in Milwaukee reach the threshold of students needed to provide a hot meal. Then, as per district requirements, the programs dedicate thirty minutes to homework help, followed by forty-five minutes of academic enrichment—while MPS provides curricula for this enrichment, programs are able to tailor that curriculum to the particular interests, ages, and needs of the children they serve. The last section of the program varies largely based on the particular partnerships that each site is engaged with—programming can span from art, dance, and visual arts to scouting, STEM activities, and physical education. MPS partners with a diverse set of organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee; the Children Outing Association; United Migrant Opportunities, Inc.; Milwaukee Kickers; and the Silver Spring Neighborhood Center. All partners work together, hold meetings with organizational leadership, and convene all of the site coordinators regularly, to ensure quality and access across the board. According to Leighton Cooper, the Coordinator of Afterschool Programs for Milwaukee Public Schools, the best approach to keep youth safe is to keep them off the streets and engaged during the critical time between 3 and 6pm, which is why MPS partners with so many different organizations. “Kids can vote with their feet. The more we are providing the opportunity for kids to engage with programming that’s meaningful and impactful, that’s how we ensure that kids want to engage and are kept safe after school.”
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