After School Programs: Guiding The Path Of At Risk Youth

967 words - 4 pages

Today’s youth are facing serious critical risks leading to preventable crisis. There are many factors in their lives causing this downward spiral. Teens who have trouble managing the stresses of life are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, engage in criminal activity, are sexually promiscuous, and attempt suicide. Many of these at-risk teens become the next amber alert living on the streets or eventually behind the bars of a detention center. After-school programs are worthwhile to at-risk youth because they can improve their life chances by providing early prevention, intervention, and diversion.
It is troublesome for impoverished and dysfunctional families to raise children with the skills needed to be a contributing member of society. A large challenge is being able to provide a nourishing environment for adolescents so they can be hopeful about their futures. After-school programs are extremely important to the success of at-risk youth. Statistics provided by Stinson disclose that, “A report issued by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network shows that “in 2002 the Department of Justice reported that the violent crime rate for adolescents ages 16 to 19 was over twice the rate for people ages 25 to 34 and three times the rate for adults ages 35 to 49” (11). In order for teens to create better lives for themselves, adults must support and guide them into believing their future holds many possibilities and obtainable goals.
One of the many benefits at-risk youth receive by attending an after-school program is the ability to build strong connections between themselves and their communities. They can focus on their strengths rather than their deficits and build opportunities that nurture development. This enables them to contribute positive change within their communities. As claimed by Erising, “The positive youth paradigm affirms the need for supportive relationships that connect adolescents with peers, family members, and adults within schools and other community outlets.” (27). Without these important after-school programs teens will continue to use negative sources as an outlet.
After-school programs embrace the idea that teens are capable individuals trying to reach their full potential. These programs view youth as a new generation of problem solvers ready to engage with their communities. Ersing also states that, “Such connections are particularly pertinent for youths living in impoverished environments where persistent social and emotional stressors contribute to feelings of depression and isolation, often resulting in poor decision making and unhealthy behavior” (27). It is imperative that after-school programs remain funded. The future of this country rests on the shoulders of the next generation.
Despite the numerous positive attributes after-school programs offer to at-risk youth, there are those who claim them to be a waste of time and money. Some think it is solely the job of the parent to raise their children to be...

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