A new counseling program aimed at reducing violence among young men has shown promising results, a new study reports.
'Becoming a Man - Sports Edition' a program developed by Youth Guidance and World Sport Chicago was delivered to more than 800 boys. Results show that boys who participated in this program had 44 percent reduced crime rates. They were also more likely to take part in school activities.
Researchers from University of Chicago Crime Lab along with many other philanthropic organizations are planning to enroll around 2,000 students from Chicago Public School (CPS) in the follow up studies on BAM-Sports edition. They say the program is cost-effective.
The program aims at mentoring students in a non-traditional way that focuses on teaching students important life values through sports.
"We have data from the most rigorous possible scientific study suggesting that it is not only possible to prevent youth violence involvement through pro-social programming, but that the returns on investment are extremely high. The benefit-cost ratios are on the order of 3:1 to 31:1," said Jens Ludwig, director of the Crime Lab and the McCormick Foundation Professor of Social Service Administration, Law and Public Policy at the University of Chicago.
Researchers used data from CPS and the Illinois State Police and tracked down students' activity during the academic years 2009-10 and 2010-11. They found that the intervention program was helpful in reducing crime rates that include trespassing and vandalism. They also found that students counseled in this program were less likely to end up attending schools at juvenile prisons.
"What’s remarkable about the BAM-Sports Edition program is the relatively limited number of contact hours, its scalability, and the relatively low cost," said Harold Pollack, Crime Lab co-director and the Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at UC.
The students enrolled in this program also showed good performance at school. Most importantly, the students showed academic improvement even a year after the program ended.
"This has been a very powerful program and one that has demonstrated that sport can play a positive role in strengthening the social and emotional skills of young men in some of our most under-resourced communities. We are looking forward to continuing to work with Youth Guidance and the Crime Lab to expand and further prove the value of this program," said Scott Myers, executive director of World Sport Chicago.
According to researchers involved in the study the U.S government spends more than $500 billion on public schools but a very little attention is given on improving students' social skills.
"These findings emphasize the potential of helping youth to develop their non-academic skills as a strategy to decrease violence," said Sara Heller, a doctoral student at University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy Studies and lead author of the study.