It is estimated that over 8 million school age children are left unattended after school is let out. Statistics show that the hours between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. are when kids are most likely to take part in high risk behaviors such as drug use, drinking alcohol and youth violence. Between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. is when the highest amount of teen criminal activity takes place. This sends a loud message that the after school hours are a crucial time to get our kids into structured activities and programs that are supervised in order to keep them safe.
Researchers have found that kids who spend one to four hours per week in after school programs and extra curricular activities have better school attendance and display fewer behavior problems than their unattended peers. After school programs are a time to enrich the lives of these kids and to teach them new skills that will boost their self esteem and help them become responsible adults.
Government agencies are identifying the needs of these children and putting programs in place. Right now 90 % of people say that after school programs should be available to all kids regardless of financial ability. However, 2/3 of parents and caretakers will tell you that they find it hard to find such programs locally.
Perhaps while the government is working on putting more programs in place, communities need more willing citizens who will head up programs and donate their time and talents at schools and community centers in their area. This is a great opportunity to help your community and to better the lives of so many.