Summer jobs for disadvantaged kids tied with drop in violent crimes; mentoring may be the key by Lindsey Tanner for the Associated Press
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CHICAGO — A summer jobs program that engaged mentors to help troubled kids stay on track is linked with a big reduction in youth arrests for violent crimes.
The results suggest that a low-cost public program can reap big benefits. But they also support arguments that employment alone cannot resolve poverty-related ills.
Study author Sara Heller, an assistant criminology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said the research offers one possible way to prevent violence among disadvantaged youngsters, and it’s a strategy that other cities should consider. “It means adolescence isn’t too late” to change destructive behavior, Heller said.
The study was released Thursday by the journal Science.
Working with the University of Chicago Crime Lab and police data, Heller studied the city’s eight-week program the year it launched, 2012, and followed participants for up to about a year after their jobs ended. They were compared with a control group of teens not involved in the program.
In the end, there were 43 percent fewer violent-crime arrests among the jobs group during the follow-up than among the control group.