After School: Still the Prime Time for Juvenile Crime in California
Afterschool Fights Crime in California
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 California
In California, juvenile crime peaks from 2 to 6 p.m. on school days, with about 35 percent of all juvenile crime on those days occurring during the hours following the last school bell.
Program Highlight: Program Enrichment for After-School Kids, Ventura
Program Enrichment for After-School Kids (PEAK) & After School Education and Safety (ASES) are after-school partnerships that include the City of Ventura Department of Parks & Recreation, Ventura Unified School District, and Ventura Police Activities League (PAL). PEAK was formed in 2002 to develop and implement an inclusive after-school program for elementary and middle school children serving 630 kids per year. Today, PEAK serves five elementary schools and community centers in Ventura, and relies on ASES funding for their quality afterschool programs.
I believe that quality afterschool programs are the best form of long-term crime prevention a community can provide.
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids member Ken Corney, Ventura Chief of Police
The mission of the afterschool partnership is to provide safe and supervised afterschool education, enrichment, and recreation opportunities for students. PAL’s contribution is to provide activity funding along with occasional field trips and officer stop-ins.
Ventura Chief of Police, and Fight Crime: Invest in Kids member, Ken Corney supports the work of PEAK, “I believe that quality afterschool programs are the best form of long-term crime prevention a community can provide. Afterschool programs can increase school-day attendance, student test scores, and reduce dropout rates. All leading to lifelong success and achievement, which is integral to preventing crime and keeping our communities safe.”
Program Highlight: BEST, Los Angeles
Serving approximately 25,000 children ages 5 to 12 in close to 200 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) elementary schools, LA’s BEST provides a mix of enriching activities that span the gamut, from robotics to yoga. Between the hours of 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., in addition to receiving a nutritious meal and homework help, elementary schoolers can take part in a wide variety of clubs and activities such as KidBot Club, Young Authors, Dance & Drill Team, digital photography, Mariachi Club, and a cooking and nutrition program–Small Bites, to name a few. LA’s BEST encourages students to be creative, explore their interests, and discover their passions while working with supportive staff. An alumnus of the program shared, “If it weren’t for LA’s BEST, I can’t imagine how I could have found my path. So many other kids from my neighborhood weren’t so lucky. They didn’t have the kind of support and resources that LA’s BEST provides at no cost to families like mine.”
If it weren’t for LA’s BEST, I can’t imagine how I could have found my path. So many other kids from my neighborhood weren’t so lucky.
LA’s BEST alumnus
The program—a partnership between the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, LAUSD, and the private sector—was established in 1988 by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and LAUSD Superintendent Leonard Britton in response to the growing incidence of children being unsupervised during the after school hours. A 2019 evaluation by the Center for Research and Evaluation of Student Standards and Testing (CRESST) at University of California, Los Angeles found that LA’s BEST students with high levels of attendance in the program were 5 percent less likely to dropout of school and 6 percent more likely to graduate from high school on time compared to their peers who did not participate in the program. A 2007 evaluation of the program by CRESST found that LA’s BEST students are 30 percent less likely to participate in criminal activities than their non-participating peers and researchers estimated that for every dollar invested in the program, the city saves $2.50 in crime-related costs.
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