A new study on juvenile delinquency has found that participation in extra-curricular activities can definitely minimize the risky behaviors in young men and women.
However, the study also showed that there is a "tipping point" where too much involvement can have a counter-effect.
Researchers at the Northeastern University separately examined delinquency and risky behaviors for both young men and young women in a suburban high school and how involvement in outside activities influenced those behaviors.
The team found that participation in extra-curricular activities certainly seemed to lessen the risky behaviors.
But, the researchers also discovered that there seemed to be a "tipping point" where excessive involvement had a counter-effect.
They also found that nontraditional activities for each gender, such as sports for girls and church for boys, provided a greater protection from delinquency.
The researchers believe that extracurricular involvement helps dissuade delinquency by reducing unstructured time, providing incentives to conform, and creating avenues for attachments with other pro-social peers and adults.
"Young people who participate in sports and both community and church activities report significantly less serious delinquency as well as less problem drinking and risky sexual behavior," said co-author Sean P. Varano, Ph.D.
"A healthy and measured dose of involvement in extracurricular activities is good for young people," Varano added.
The article, "Social Control, Serious Delinquency, and Risky Behavior: A Gendered Analysis," is published by SAGE in Crime & Delinquency.