The statistics are staggering;
clearly, young Americans in many communities are at risk. Research has shown children are less likely to engage in risky behaviors when they are connected to parents, family, school, community, and places of worship. Too often however adolescents lack the adult support and guidance to develop the skills required to become successful independent adults. While this may be the case for adolescents in general, it is particularly true for at-risk youth.

The Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development link how students spend their time out of school with the risk factors highlighted above in their groundbreaking 1992 study, “For some, particularly those supervised by adults, the out-of-school hours offer opportunities to be with friends, play sports, pursue interests, and engage in challenging activities. But for many home alone, the out-of-school hours present serious risks for substance abuse, crime, violence, and sexual activity leading to unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS. Time spent alone is not crucial to high risk. Rather it is what young people do during that time, where they do it, and with whom that leads to positive or negative consequences.”

According to the Center for Youth Development and Policy Research, adolescents between the ages of 9-14 have approximately 1,922 hours of discretionary time available annually. Assuming that all of an adolescent’s time should not be accounted for, they estimate that on average 14 hours per week (728 hours per week) should not be accounted for, especially for older youth. This leaves approximately 1200 hours where students need development and support.

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