The impact of an afterschool program on youth risk-taking behaviors

The purpose of this study is to examine risk-taking behaviors among youth who participate in the Step-Up part of the CCPY program. This study described youth involvement in risk-taking behaviors throughout the program in attempts to capture significant changes (if any) in the youths’ risk-taking behaviors over the course of their participation in the program. The sample population included 26 incoming ninth-grade students, all of whom were voluntarily taking part in the Step-Up part of the CCPY program. Data were collected using a quantitative survey. The survey consisted of 29 questions, which measured change in risk-taking behaviors over the four periods of time. The findings of this study demonstrated that youth who participated in the Step-Up part of the CCPY program did not show a statistically significant difference in their risk-taking behaviors over time. Although no significant differences occurred, the results indicated that some risk-taking behaviors declined over time. This researcher suggests that a qualitative study be conducted to explore in more depth the participants’ perspectives as to how/why they engage in risk-taking behaviors. Depending on the youths’ responses, social workers can make recommendations on what changes need to be implemented to make afterschool programs more effective in meeting the needs of the youth. This researcher also recommends conducting a longitudinal study that follows youth for a year after they complete the Step-Up part of the CCPY program. A longitudinal exploration will help examine if the reduction in the risk-taking behaviors is sustainable over time, once the youth are out of the CCPY program.