Research indicates summer jobs for youths help to reduce violence and reckless behavior such as alcohol, drug use, and other misconduct.
“Teenagers who acquire summer jobs are less likely to engage in violence, according to a new study unveiled by Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino,” said The Crime Report.
The study was done at Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market, the Boston Globe reported.
The research assessed 22 negative social behaviors considered risky or deviant. “Researchers recorded net improvements in behavior over the course of the summer in 19 of the 22 areas examined,” said The Crime Report.
Using confidential questionnaires, about 400 adolescents and teenagers who found work last summer through a violence prevention program were polled regarding their behavior before and after employment.
“Summer jobs help us reduce violence in the city,” said Mayor Menino. “It gives the kids hope, gives them an opportunity they never had.”
The Globe reported that Northeastern professor Andrew Sum said less than one percent of the youth that found employment reported harming or threatening to harm someone with a firearm one month prior to his or her employment.
According to the Globe, Professor Sum said 15 percent of the youths had a fight the month before starting their jobs.
When the jobs ended, less than 8 percent of the youths reported being involved in a fight in the last 30 days, the Globe reported.
“The biggest differences in behavior change between the participants and comparison group involved using alcohol, selling or using drugs, picking on others by chasing them, spreading false rumors or lies about others, and not listening to ones parents,” researchers wrote in The Crime Report.
Sum said the reduction in violence is “very significant,” and that the summer jobs program helped the youths to find work in the fall, demonstrating the need of jobs for low-income youth.
“This important research settles questions about whether we should address high youth unemployment in our highest crime areas,” said Emmett Folgert, executive director of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative.
The Crime Report said the University of Chicago Crime Lab (UCCL) conducted its own study on at-risk youth participation in a Chicago summer job program joined with a cognitive behavioral therapy-based program producing similar results.
“The findings of the Chicago study mirror a recent study of the affects of summer employment on Boston youth,” said The Crime Report.
The UCCL study “experienced a 51 percent drop in arrests for violent crime” according to its study, reported The Crime Report.
The study tracked some 700 youths, ages 14 to 21, who were picked as participants in One Summer Plus (OSP), in 2012. OSP provides at-risk, violent youth with jobs, mentoring, and therapy.
The youth “showed an enormous proportional drop in violent-crime arrests after seven post-program months (3.7 fewer arrests per 100 participants, a 51 percent decline),” The Crime Report reported.
The Chicago researchers said it is too soon to do a cost-benefit analysis, but if the results continue, program benefits may “outweigh the cost, based on a reduction in violence.”
The program director at the Boston Ten Point Coalition, Rufus J. Faulk, said job programs should be “a 365-day a year priority,” and that focus should be on at-risk youths, as well as on students who standout in positive ways.
“We want to keep kids safe and engaged,” said John J. Drew, president and chief executive officer of Action for Boston Community Development, a nonprofit organization that has also assisted Sum’s researchers. “We know that hot summer days can stir unrest in city streets.”