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Youth clubs strengthen kids' self image to keep them out of trouble
Date:6/10/2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When children belong to a youth club, they gain a stronger sense of who they are as a person, an Ohio State University study has revealed.

The study suggests that even small improvements in self concept go a long way toward keeping children out of trouble.

"The more kids participate in these clubs, the better self concept they have," said Dawn Anderson-Butcher, an associate professor of social work at Ohio State. "And then that self concept makes children less vulnerable to engaging in problem behaviors."

Even children who don't attend a club every day still benefit, she added.

"We're finding that daily attendance isn't as important as whether the kids feel attached to the organization and have a good relationship with a staff member. Those two things predict the best outcomes and the least amount of vulnerability."

This study, which appears in a recent issue of Children and Youth Services Review, surveyed nearly 300 children from age 9 to 16 in a city in Utah. About three-fourths of the children were members of a local branch of Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The rest were children who weren't members, but lived in the surrounding community.

The children filled out the Utah Division of Substance Abuse Needs Assessment Survey, which gauges how attached children feel to their family, neighborhood, and school; whether they have a strong sense of who they are, and strong self-esteem; whether they earn good grades; and whether they feel that they receive positive reinforcement for good behavior from their community.

It asks whether they have engaged in problem behaviors in the last 30 days. Problem behaviors include alcohol, marijuana, and cigarette use; academic failure; and gang involvement.

Anderson-Butcher and Scottye Cash, also an associate professor of social work at Ohio State, compared the survey data with the last six months of the children's attendance rec
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Contact: Dawn Anderson-Butcher
Anderson-butcher.1@osu.edu
614-292-8596
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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