The Influence of After School Programs on Adolescent Substance Use
Problem: According to the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) bi-annual National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (NYRBS), nearly forty-five percent of all teens have smoked cigarettes at some point, nearly seventy-one percent have tried alcohol and forty percent have tried marijuana. Many potential factors have been identified as having a positive effect in treatment and cessation programs for at-risk adolescent populations including social support and community involvement. Research investigating the effects of these factors in prevention is still limited in scope. The present study examines relationships between risky health behaviors of freshman college students and the five “C”s of positive youth development: competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring. Procedure: 204 emerging adult (18-19) college students who were involved in after school activities in high school completed the Positive Youth Development Inventory (PYDI) which measures the five “C”s of positive youth development. We also included the substance use questions from the NYRBS. Results: Our data indicate that students who reported high levels of competence, confidence, and caring reported lower use of alcohol and marijuana. In addition, contribution, which is a combination of all 5 factors also related to lower alcohol and marijuana use. Conclusions: It appears that after school programs do foster the Five Cs of positive youth development and may offer protective effects on underage drinking and marijuana use. Future studies should include control groups of students who did not participate in such programs to ensure the validity of our findings.