What do your kids do after school each day? More than 26 percent of school-age children are on their own after school, according to the Afterschool Alliance. The hours between 3-6pm are reported as the peak times for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and sex. Lack of funds seem to be a main factor in kids being unsupervised during this time. Parents need to work and often cannot afford to send their children to afterschool activities, which can be expensive.
However, the benefits of afterschool activities are extensive. Studies show that quality afterschool programs can lead to improved attendance, better behavior, and higher grades. Teens not involved in afterschool programs are nearly three times more likely to skip classes, use drugs, smoke, drink, and engage in sexual activity.
If money is an issue, see what your child’s school district offers in terms of free or low-cost afterschool activities. Ask about possible scholarships for different sports and extracurricular activities. Depending on your child’s age, perhaps have them spend their afternoons at a friend’s house where a parent will be present. If your teen has to be unsupervised, make sure you know where they are and who they are with.
The Afterschool Alliance is a national organization working to ensure that all children have access to affordable afterschool programs. Visit their website for much more information and see how you can help with this effort.