A recent study from the University of Chicago Crime Lab revealed that summer jobs programs for high school students from disadvantaged neighborhoods have a significant impact on reducing crime among teens.
The study focused on Chicago’s One Summer Plus program, which offers eight weeks of part-time summer employment to young people and an adult job mentor to help manage barriers to employment.
The study included 1,634 teens from 13 high-violence high schools who were almost all C students and eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Twenty percent of the group had already been arrested, and 20 percent had already been victims of crime.
Compared the control group, this group experienced a 43 percent reduction in violent-crime arrests over 16 months, emphasizing the importance of pro-social activities for young people—something Reclaiming Futures believes is key to success.
A Washington Post article covering the study discussed why the results are so important: “That number is striking for a couple of reasons: It implies that a relatively short (and inexpensive) intervention like an eight-week summer jobs program can have a lasting effect on teenage behavior. And it lends empirical support to a popular refrain by advocates: ‘Nothing stops a bullet like a job.’”
Researcher Sara Heller, who conducted a randomized control trial with the program, said of the outcomes:
“The results echo a common conclusion in education and health research: that public programs might do more with less by shifting from remediation to prevention. The findings make clear that such programs need not be hugely costly to improve outcomes for disadvantaged youth; well-targeted, low-cost employment policies can make a substantial difference, even for a problem as destructive and complex as youth violence.”
The decline occurred mainly after the eight-week program ended, demonstrating that the summer of employment did more than keep the teens busy—it changed their behavior after the job, as well.
For our past reporting on the impact of pro-social activities, visit:
Image from One Summer Chicago website
Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform