Why After School for Middle Schoolers?
The after school hours from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. are the peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, and sex. When school closes each day, almost 4 million students in grades six to eight are without adult supervision. This can be especially troublesome for children who live in at-risk neighborhoods. Studies show that youth who attend after school programs have lower incidences of violence, drug use, and pregnancy, and have better grades, conduct, and peer relations. Students in these programs benefit from receiving attention from adults, finding new interests, taking on a sense of belonging and leadership roles, and increasing their self-esteem. As a result, students' grades improve, they have a stronger self-image, risk-taking behavior is reduced, and they have fewer absences in school. The success of such programs undoubtedly accounts for their popularity: Polls indicate that up to 90 percent of Americans think after school programming is important. However, the surveys also show that the current supply does not meet the demand. Nearly 60 percent of Americans have difficulty finding programs in their community. The need is especially keen for middle schoolers, of which just 6 percent are in after school programs.