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When school day ends, danger begins for many young people

 

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It is the end of the school day. When the last bell rings, nearly 2,500 area children will leave their classrooms about 3 p.m. In the United States, some 53 million students will depart their schools. Some will go home to a parent, some will go to an extra-curricular program and some will go to work.

But many some 15 million throughout the country will go it alone. Lacking adult supervision or access to an after-school program, these young people will be in danger. We know from numerous studies and statistics that the rate of juvenile-related crime actually doubles during the hours after school. Studies show that from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., children are more likely to be involved in substance abuse, sexual activities and crime.

It is time that we address aggressively the after-school issue. Boys & Girls Clubs of America has established Campaign 3 P.M., an effort to raise awareness and encourage community collaboration to change the after-school world in the United States. Boys & Girls Clubs serve some 3.3 million young people in more than 3,000 neighborhoods. Seven out of 10 young people we serve live in an urban, inner-city environment. Half are from single-parent homes. Forty percent are from families with annual incomes of less than $22,000

While these young people seem particularly vulnerable, statistics and experience make it crystal clear that all children are at risk in the after-school hours if left unsupervised. The problem transcends demographics. For the most part, those responsible for violence in our schools in recent years were not poor, did not live in inner cities and were not members of minorities. Many

came from two-parent homes. Yet, after the closing bell rang, they often had little or no adult supervision or support.

The message of Campaign 3 P.M. is simple: Every child in America should participate in a safe, supervised, structured program after school every day. In Havre, the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line is working to make a difference in the lives of more than 480 young people. Membership is just $10 a year. Anyone interested in learning more about the Boys & Girls Club or wanting to apply to volunteer is encouraged to call 265-6206.

 
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