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Youth Clubs Keep Kids from Using Drugs or Alcohol, Say Researchers

Kids that attend youth clubs regularly, like Boys and Girls Club of America, are less likely to start drinking, smoking or using drugs, less likely to get involved with gangs and less likely to fail at school, say researchers at Ohio State.

Ohio State University researchers surveyed 300 children between the ages of 9 and 16 in Utah. About 75% of these kids were members of a Boys and Girls Club of America branch – and the rest of the kids were from the same community, but were not members.

All children were surveyed for ‘trouble behaviors’ such as drug or alcohol use, cigarette smoking, gang involvement and poor school performance using the Utah Division of Substance Abuse Needs Assessment Survey.

The Results:

  • Kids who participated in youth clubs reported a stronger sense of self and higher self esteem and were less likely to report trouble behaviors than kids who did not attend a youth club
  • The more involved a child becomes in a youth club, the less likely they are to report trouble behaviors

Lead researcher Dawn Anderson-Butcher says that by participating in a youth club children learn social skills and gain a stronger sense of self, as well as receive positive reinforcement from their community. She explains, "As kids' self-concept improves, it reduces their vulnerability to negative influences, which in turn decreases their likelihood of using drugs and alcohol, joining gangs, or failing in school.”

The full research results can be read in Children and Youth Services Review

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