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Youth 4 Youth Grants OPEN

Posted on January 11th, 2019 in: Blog

The Vermont Youth Council’s Youth4Youth Grants are available to young people to fund ideas that will help promote youth rights across the state. The Y4Y grants  are managed by the Vermont Youth Council (a program of Vermont Afterschool). They are designed to fund projects that help address the rights identified in the Youth Declaration of Rights, which was written by young people from across the state. The Council is made up of young people from all across the state and it strives to amplify youth voice through youth initiated projects that will benefit Vermont’s young people.

Here’s how it works:
1. Think of a project to help your community
2. Fill out a simple application online or download a PDF version
3. Have your idea voted on by other young people
4. Get the money and make your idea a reality!

Grant amounts can range from $100 to $3000 and any Vermont youth from 10 up to 22 (unless still in school) can apply. The Youth4Youth grant application is open until February 10, 2019 after which time finalists will be voted on by young people from all across the state. Grant recipients will be announced in April.

Questions?
Contact Vermont Afterschool’s Youth Voice Coordinator, Sam Graulty at sam@vermontfterschool.org. He can also work with you to set up a workshop in your community to help you with the process.

Online Application:
http://vermontafterschool.page.link/Y4Y

Download a Y4Y Grant flyer, spread the word ,and encourage young people to apply!

Call for Youth Art

Posted on January 11th, 2019 in: Blog

Do you have afterschool artists who would want to show their work at the State House? If so, we would love to display their work at an afterschool exhibition in the State House cafeteria for March 2019.

Who: Afterschool and out-of-school time artists of all ages (grades K-12) and abilities from Vermont
What: 2D and 3D art needed for display
Theme: Youth rights and youth expression in the “third space” (which is anytime when youth aren’t at home or at school)
When: Artwork must received by January 30, 2018 for display March 1-31, 2019 with a short submission form attached
Contact: email Alissa Faber for further information

Artwork can be photographs, drawings, paintings, collage, clay, sculpture, prints, masks, and digital creations. All ideas and expressions are welcome! We hope all artists and their families will be able to join us for a closing reception and ice cream social at the State House on the afternoon of March 28, 2019.

January’s Data Digest: Opioids

Posted on January 7th, 2019 in: Blog

This blog post, by our Research Analyst Erin Schwab, is part of a monthly series unpacking data from the 2017 YRBS survey and making connections to out-of-school time programming in Vermont.

Welcome to 2019! As we enter the new year, we are continuing to look at data from the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) which was completed by over 20,000 Vermont students in grades 9-12 back in the spring of 2017. The survey is administered to high school students around the state every two years, which means that in just a few months a whole new round of data will be collected. In the meantime, we still have plenty to explore from the 2017 data.

This month, we are thinking about the opioid crisis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were 101 opioid-related deaths in Vermont in 2016. That is a rate of 18.4 deaths per 100,000 persons which was higher than the national average of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 that year. To help prevent tragic outcomes as a result of opioid dependency, Vermont Afterschool was recently awarded the Opioid Prevention Grant from the Vermont Department of Health. Through this initiative, we will work to help youth in Vermont meaningfully respond to the opioid crisis through increased afterschool programming, youth councils, and other youth engagement processes. We will also help strengthen Vermont’s ability to respond to the opioid crisis by empowering staff and practitioners working with children and youth in afterschool programs and other youth-serving organizations with awareness, skills, and resources for dealing with the crisis.

Youth need meaningful ways to build their voice, resiliency and community engagement. These skills will ultimately serve to help them decrease their risk of using and becoming addicted to substances. We have evidence from Iceland that helps support this idea. In the late 1990’s the Youth in Iceland initiative was established as a way to help youth engage in activities that would give them “natural highs” to prevent them from drinking and doing drugs. State funding for organized activities was increased and data has since been continually collected on an annual basis. Between 1997 and 2012, the percentage of Icelandic teenagers who smoked, drank, and used other drugs has been plummeting as a direct result of this initiative.

We suspect that such strategies applied in Vermont could also serve to reduce the use of opioids among high school students here. The 2017 YRBS data points to more evidence to support this hypothesis. On the survey, 20,010 students answered questions about their afterschool participation and heroin use. Among students who didn’t participate in any hours of afterschool activities, 2.6% students reported using heroine at some point in their lives. This percentage dropped to 0.9%, 1.5%, and 0.7% respectively for students who reported participating in 1 to 4 hours, 5 to 9 hours, and 10 to 19 hours of afterschool activities per week. Vermont high school students who participated in afterschool activities (up to 19 hours per week) were much less likely to have ever used heroin than those who do not participate in any afterschool activities in 2017.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that according to polling data from 2002 to 2012, the incidence of heroin initiation was 19 times higher among those who reported prior nonmedical pain reliever use than among those who did not. Students also responded to questions related to taking prescription pain medications (such as codeine, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, and Percocet) without a prescription at some point during their lives. There were 19,988 high school students that responded to both this item and our question about participation in afterschool activities. Among those who did not participate in any hours of afterschool, 11% responded that they have used prescription pain medication without a prescription. For students who participation in up to 19 hours per week of afterschool programming, between 5% to 6% of them had reported ever using prescription pain medications without a prescription. These data show that afterschool participation is correlated with a decreased likelihood that high school students in Vermont consume opioids in the form of non-prescription pain medications.

There was also an item on the YRBS that was not specific to opioid use, but was interesting in this case because of some potential overlap. The question asked students whether they had attended school under the influence of alcohol or other illegal drugs at least once in the 12 months leading up to the survey. Among students who did not participate in any amount of afterschool activities, 18.6% responded that they did attend school under the influence in the most recent year. Among students who participated in 1 to 4 hours of afterschool activities, 10.3% reported attending school under the influence; among students who participated in 5 to 9 hours of afterschool activities, 10.1% reported attending school under the influence; and among students who participated in 10 to 19 hours of afterschool activities, 8.3% reported attending school under the influence. These percentages show that afterschool participation is correlated with a reduced likelihood that high school students in Vermont will show up to school under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

These results from the YRBS show that the opioid crisis is not limited to adults. It is imperative that we create opportunities for youth so that they have meaningful ways to become empowered and engage in activities that do not include addictive substances. We are confident that we can help Vermont reduce tragic outcomes in the long term by focusing on providing enriching opportunities for our youth today.

Read past Data Digest blog posts here:

Free CCV Online Course for Spring 2019

Posted on January 4th, 2019 in: Blog

For the Spring Semester 2019, Vermont Afterschool is partnering with the Child Development Division (CDD) to offer a 3-credit, online course for afterschool professionals through the Community College of Vermont (CCV).

 This is a FREE online course for those who are working in a licensed afterschool/childcare program!

Afterschool Education & Development of the School-Age Child (EDU 2065): This course focuses on afterschool education related to the development of school age children. Emphasis is on exploring the interconnections between child/youth development, the transition to and participation in school, and growth within a community context. Topics include: developmental theories and research, observation and assessment tools, design of inclusive integrated curriculum, understanding school and community in the context of youth development, and transitions related to providing afterschool education.

Semester Dates: January 22 – April 30, 2019
Instructor: Gabrielle Lumbra
How to register: Email Tricia Pawlik-York for an application. *Note that you do NOT register  with CCV directly.*

Youth Voice: An “On Air” Need

Posted on January 2nd, 2019 in: Blog

By Sam Graulty, Youth Voice Coordinator

It was recently public radio fundraising time here in Vermont. I’m a big Vermont Public Radio fan and have been known to stay tuned through their repeated membership pitches. However, a few weeks ago, during one of these breaks, I slid the dial to another public radio station and was so happy I did. There, I caught a story from National Public Radio about Boyle Heights Beat, a “a bilingual community news project produced by youth, offering ‘noticias por y para la comunidad,’ or ‘news by and for the community.’”

This community newspaper (and podcast!) is entirely produced by young people. Its 33,000 copies are distributed quarterly to every member of the neighborhood of Los Angeles that is its focus. Not only do these dedicated high school-aged reporters tackle stories ranging from city council meetings to public health, they also amplify others’ voices in the community. This is done through regular meetings where anyone from the neighborhood can come and give feedback on stories they have written, as well as suggest areas for coverage in future editions. This strengthens the community’s social ties, plus it leads to better coverage. As founder Michelle Levander put it, “You know, people feel very hopeful about youth, and they are nicer to them. And they really came to trust them with their stories. And so it was just a very powerful way for these young people to give back to their community and the community to give to them.”

While we have ever expanding media choices, from a seemingly endless menu of viewpoints and leanings, the perspectives of young people are often sorely lacking. Recently, there has been some great coverage about young people by caring adults, and even the occasional powerful piece directly from a young person. As far as programs go, there have been good pushes in the past to capture and disseminate youth voice, such as Youth Radio Vermont, a program of the Vermont Folklife Center. And currently The Young Writers Project is doing some great work on creative writing with young people, by supporting them to take creative risks. However, these are the exceptions, not the norm. They oftentimes feel like only a small carve-out, an aside, from a communication landscape largely monopolized by adults.

Not only is it the comprehensive scope that impresses me so much about Boyle Heights Beat, it’s the dialog it creates. It puts youth right into the middle of the discussion. Not only are they a central part of the conversation they are the conveners of the conversation, and the custodians of what comes out of it. For youth voice to truly matter, it must be part of a culture shift where every member of the community can feel welcomed and engaged at the table of ideas. While some may fret about young people leaving Vermont, we need to pay attention to the ones who are here and trust young people with the responsibility of being full members of our community and the responsibility of telling its stories.

Youth want and need what we all want and need, and it’s pretty universal to want to be heard. While I’m still a realist, and know that by the time the next VPR membership drive rolls around, we’re not likely to have a fully youth-run radio station produced out of a local high school I can tune into. But I do hope that it’s not just through periodic happenstance that I hear young people with the opportunity to share their stories and those of their communities.

Note: Vermont Afterschool’s new Youth Voice Initiative is funded in part by the Vermont Community Foundation, the C.S. Mott Foundation, and the Vermont Department of Health. We will be featuring more youth storytellers, authors, artists, and activists in our monthly blog posts throughout 2019.

December’s Data Digest: Weapons and School Violence

Posted on December 11th, 2018 in: Blog

This blog post, by our Research Analyst Erin Schwab, is part of a monthly series unpacking data from the 2017 YRBS survey and making connections to out-of-school time programming in Vermont.

Can afterschool programs play a role in preventing tragic school shootings? The answer to this question, while unclear, is worth exploring. The 2017 data from Vermont’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey suggest that there is a negative correlation between participation in afterschool activities and weapons being carried in school. The data show that students who did not participate in any afterschool activities were far more likely to report carrying a weapon (such as a gun, knife, or club) to school than those who participated in between one and 19 hours of afterschool activities per week.

On the survey, over 20,000 high school students in Vermont answered questions about their levels of participation in “risk” behaviors (such as carrying weapons to school) as well as “asset” behaviors (such as participation in afterschool activities). A total of 20,025 students responded to items about carrying weapons to school and about participation in extracurricular activities. Among students who did not participate in any number of hours of afterschool activities during the week, 9.1% reported that they did carry a weapon on school property in the month leading up to the survey. Among students who participated in between one and four hours of weekly programming, this percentage was cut nearly in half to 4.7%. For students that participated in between five and nine hours of activities, 5.1% responded that they carried a weapon to school; and for students that participated between ten and 19 hours of activities, 4.0% reported carrying a weapon to school. For students who participated in between one and 19 hours of weekly afterschool programming, the percentage of students that reported carrying weapons to school was about half of what it would have been otherwise.

A similar effect can be seen between afterschool participation and and the percentages of high school students who were threatened or injured by a weapon on school property. For high school students who did not participating in any hours of extracurricular activities, 6.0% were threatened or injured by a weapon on school property at least once in the 12 months leading up to the survey. The percentages of students who reported being threatened or injured by weapons on school property decreased continuously as their weekly hours of participation in extracurricular activities increased (up to 19 hours). For students who participated in between one and four weekly hours of programming, 4.0% reported being threatened or injured;  for students who participated in between five and nine hours of programming, 3.5% reported being threatened or injured; and for students who participated in between 10 and 19 hours of programming, 3.0% reported being threatened or injured by a weapon on school property.

So why were students who participated in a moderate amount of afterschool programming much less likely to report either carrying weapons to school or being threatened or injured by a weapon on school property than those who did not participate in any amount of afterschool programming? Are afterschool activities the direct cause of this phenomenon or is there a third unknown variable that is causing this phenomenon (a classic case of correlation vs. causation)? Currently, there is a lack of evidence to help answer these questions. Without rigorous peer-reviewed research to control for variables, it is impossible to say with certainty whether participation in extracurricular activities is directly responsible for students choosing not to bring weapons to school.

What we do know is that quality afterschool activities can help students build their social and emotional skills and also engage them in meaningful activities that are important to them. Elizabeth Englander, Professor of Psychology, and the Director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC) at Bridgewater State University believes in the power of schools to teach social and emotional skills in order to reduce gun violence. In an article for The Conversation, she wrote, “social and emotional skills can – and should – be taught in school as a way to prevent student violence.” Participation in afterschool programs can help students increase their social-emotional competencies and quite possibly significantly reduce the chance that they will want to bring a weapon to school or find themselves in a situation where they are harmed as a result of someone else brining a weapon to school. Vermont’s data seems to support this idea. And while national debate about gun control seems to be forever at a standstill, it is nice to know that advocating for more quality afterschool programs can serve to reduce the risk that guns and other weapons get brought to school and used to threaten or harm high school students.

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Special notes/further analysis:

We can see from this analysis that moderate amounts of participation in afterschool activities (between 1 and 19 hours per week) correspond with decreased instances of weapons being carried to school and also decreased instances of students being threatened or injured by weapons on school property. However, in 2017 students who participated in over 20 hours per week of programming reported higher instances of both carrying weapons to school and being threatened or injured by a weapon on school property. Among students who participated in 20 or more hours of extracurricular activities, 9.7% reported carrying a weapon on school property and 8.6% reported being threatened or injured by a weapon on school property. What is happening with this “20+ hours” category? Why was there an increase in weapons being carried and students being threatened/injured among those who participate in 20 or more hours of afterschool activities?

We don’t know for sure, but we hypothesize that those who participated in such a high number of hours of activities were participating in sports. On the 2017 YRBS, the question related to afterschool participation read, “In an average week when you are in school, how many total hours do you participate in afterschool activities such as sports, band, drama, or clubs run by your school or community groups?” Therefore, it is impossible to distinguish which responses were by students who participated in sports and which were by students who participated in other types of activities.

Related to sports participation, researchers that published a 2014 study in the Archives of Disease in Childhood assessed the well-being of Swiss teens (ages 16-20) based on their hours of participation in sports and found that the group with the highest level of weekly participation in sports (more than 17.5 hours per week) had lower well-being as measured by the WHO-5 Well-Being Index than those who participated in fewer weekly hours. There was a peak in well-being among teens who participated in 14 hours per week. Likewise, a 2007 study in the American Sociological Review examined the extent to which participating in high school sports led to male violence and concluded that there is a strong relationship between contact sports, particularly football and violence among high school boys. Perhaps the increased rates of carrying weapons to school and being injured or threatened by a weapons had to do with high school students participating in sports or maybe simply too many hours of extracurricular activities. Maybe there is something to be said for there being an “optimal” number of hours of participation in out-of-school time activities and a balanced lifestyle. (Topic for a future Data Digest post? Stay tuned.)

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Read past Data Digest posts:

We’re Hiring! Social Media and STEM Policy Internship

Posted on November 20th, 2018 in: Blog

Join our team as an intern and work to build Vermont Afterschool’s social media presence and reach a larger audience of afterschool supporters, advocates, and partners. This position will specifically focus on communications that increase awareness of the benefits of afterschool and summer learning programs that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). It is a paid internship that will be run January-April 2019 at 10-15 hours/week.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Telling the story of STEM in afterschool through pictures, videos, and other medias
  • Increasing Vermont Afterschool’s following on a variety of social media platforms
  • Supporting advocacy efforts to increase awareness and funding to the field
  • Informing and engaging community leaders and lawmakers about STEM projects throughout the state
  • Developing social media strategies and protocols for Vermont Afterschool
  • Tracking the impact of social media and communication efforts

For further detail and information on how to apply, visit here.

November’s Data Digest: Connection with Community

Posted on November 6th, 2018 in: Blog

This blog post, by our Research Analyst Erin Schwab, is the fourth in a monthly series unpacking data from the 2017 YRBS survey and making connections to out-of-school time programming in Vermont.

For this month’s data digest, we look again at the results from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Study (YRBS), Every two years, the Vermont Department of Health administers the survey throughout the state in middle schools and high schools. In both 2015 and 2017, Vermont Afterschool submitted a question that was included on the high school survey. It asked students to indicate the number of weekly hours they participated in afterschool activities. In addition to responding to our question, over 20,000 high school students in the state responded to items related to their “risk” and “asset” behaviors and other demographic factors (see our past posts for our analyses of correlations between students’ afterschool participation in 2017 and bullying, screen time/physical activity, and academic performance; and for a post about LGBT students’ access to afterschool activities).

In 2017, the YRBS also included a few questions that helped reveal the extent to which students feel valued and connected in their communities. One question asked, “Do you agree or disagree that in your community you feel like you matter to people?” In total, 60.5% of high school students said that they either agreed (41.4%) or strongly agreed (19.1%) that they mattered to people in their community. This was an 11% increase from 2015.

We cross-tabulated the 2017 results with the students’ responses to our question about their extent of participation in afterschool activities. The data, visualized in the chart below are based on 20,009 students that responded to both items on the survey. We can see that as hours of participation in afterschool activities increased, the percentages of students who felt that they mattered in their communities also increased. For students that did not participate in afterschool programming, 47% agreed or strongly agreed that they mattered to people in their communities; for students who participated in between one and four weekly hours of programming, 63% agreed or strongly agreed that they mattered to people in their communities; for students who participated in between five and nine weekly hours of programming, 69% agreed or strongly agreed that they mattered to people in their communities; and for students that participated in ten or more hours per week of programming, 71% agreed or strongly agreed that they mattered to people in their communities.

Research by Jennifer Fredericks (2006) at Connecticut College backs up our findings; her research has shown that students who participate in extracurricular activities after school improve in their sense of belonging with their communities. Afterschool activities can give students opportunities to connect with their school and greater community in new and interesting ways. Whether they plant a community garden, showcase their talent in a theatrical performances, participate in community service, or learn some new skill that they can share, they are able to use their talents to connect with their communities in ways that they are not able to do during the regular school day or by just going home after school.

Afterschool activities that make students feel connected to their communities can serve another purpose. It can provide them with increased access to adults who might be able to help them solve problems. When students are in high school, they face a lot of pressure and challenges. They deal with peer pressure associated with risk behaviors like consuming drugs and alcohol. They also face academic pressures and need to make decisions about their futures. Not all students are able to talk about these issues with their family members; in fact some students might need to talk about issues within their families. When teens feel that they have an adult in their lives, whether a teacher or someone else with whom they can talk about their problems, they have a greater chance of success as they move forward in life. Afterschool participation and meaningful community connections help foster such connections.

The 2017 YRBS data helped back up these assumptions. There was an item on the survey that asked high school students, “Is there at least one teacher or adult in your school that you can talk to if you have a problem?” Eighty percent of students responded, “Yes” to this item. We looked at the responses to this item cross-tabulated with our question about hours of participation in afterschool activities. A total of 19,994 students responded to both questions. The chart below shows these results. In general, students who participated in afterschool activities were more likely to respond that they had an adult that they could talk to than students who did not participate in afterschool activities.

Afterschool programming is an important way for for high school students to feel that they matter in their communities and connect with adults who care about them. These are just a few more of many reasons to advocate for access to quality afterschool experiences.

 

 

Reference:

Fredricks, J. A., & Eccles, J. S. (2006). Is extracurricular participation associated with beneficial outcomes? Concurrent and longitudinal relations. Developmental psychology, 42(4), 698-713. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.546.5178&rep=rep1&type=pdf

VerMoney Mini Grant

Posted on November 6th, 2018 in: Blog

Vermont Afterschool, in collaboration with Vermont State Treasure’s office, is excited to announce the roll-out of the Vermoney Financial Literacy Program. Treasurer Beth Pierce is a huge advocate for young people. Her office has identified afterschool as the perfect setting to bring this type of learning to life. The program is designed to help young people be intentional about financial decisions.
Financial decisions impact how we all live, work, and play, yet only 22% of Vermonters have participated in financial education in school, college or at work. Young people want and need what we all want and need: opportunities to connect, explore interests, build skills, experience supportive relationships, and have a happy, healthy life. Young people are also problem solvers who are eager to be engaged and to make decisions. One of the best things we can do for young people is give them the skills and knowledge they will need in life, including financial literacy. Teaching students financial concepts early can positively influence how they manage their finances throughout their lives. This curriculum helps young people reflect on the differences between wants and needs, and engages them in making choices about money.
What you get:
1. Financial Literacy Curriculum for grades 2-5
2. Gooks from the state Treasurer’s “Reading as an Investment” program
3. Program kit
4. Training
5. Training stipend for staff ($200)
6. Money to purchase supplemental materials
7. Eligible for an additional $200 prize
How to apply:
Fill out a short application and send to katrina@vermontafterschool.or
Deadline: November 16, 2018

October’s Data Digest: Bullying and aggressive behavior

Posted on October 3rd, 2018 in: Blog

This blog post, by our Research Analyst Erin Schwab, is the fourth in a monthly series unpacking data from the 2017 YRBS survey and making connections to out-of-school time programming in Vermont.

Happy October! This month is National Bullying Prevention Month, founded by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center in 2006. It is intended to raise awareness about the issue of bullying and its devastating long term effects. Bullying among youth in school has been an issue for a long time, and in the past decade or so technology has increased the ways that youth can bully one another. Electronic bullying, or cyberbullying through text message, social media, or some other kind of cyber message can spread quickly, be anonymous, and follow students even after they leave school property for the day.

We turn again to the results from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Study (YRBS) to look at bullying in Vermont and its relationship to afterschool participation. Over 20,000 high school students in Vermont answered questions about their levels of participation in “risk” behaviors (such as bullying) as well as “asset” behaviors (such as participation in afterschool activities). On the YRBS, bullying was defined as when one or more students tease, threaten, spread rumors about, hit, shove, or hurt another student over and over again. Electronic bullying was described as bullying through texting, Instagram, Facebook, or other social media sources.

Research has shown that there is a positive link between participation in afterschool activities and bullying prevention. The YRBS data support these findings for high school students in Vermont in 2017.

–> As weekly participation in afterschool activities increased, reported bullying behaviors decreased. The charts and corresponding descriptions below illustrate these findings.

It is worth pointing out the slight increase toward the end of each of the charts below (in the 10 or more hours category). A further breakdown of this data reveals that this slight increase is mainly due to larger percentages of bullying behaviors among students who participated in more than 20 hours per week of activities. Our hypothesis for this is participation in sports and the unfortunate hazing and bullying that happen among athletes which skews our data for the ‘10+ hours’ category. This hypothesis deserves further exploration; but for now, we do see bullying behaviors decrease for students who participate in moderate levels of afterschool activities as compared with those who do not participate in any afterschool activities.

Among students who didn’t participate in any afterschool activities in 2017, 18% were bullied at some point during the month leading up to the survey. Among students who participated in 1-4 weekly hours of afterschool programming, 15% were bullied; among students who participated in 5-9 hours, 13.5% were bullied; and among students who participated in 10 or more hours, 15% were bullied. The chart below depicts these numbers.

–> Students who participated in afterschool activities were also less likely to bully others than students who did not participate in any such activities. Among students who didn’t participate in any afterschool activities, 10% bullied someone at some point during the month leading up to the survey. Among students who participated in 1-4 weekly hours of afterschool programming, 7% bullied someone; among students who participated in 5-9 hours, 8% bullied someone; and among students who participated in 10 or more hours, 9% bullied someone. The chart below illustrates these data.

–> The data also show that participation in afterschool activities is correlated with decreased instances of electronic bullying. Among students who didn’t participate in any afterschool activities, 19% were electronically bullied at some point during the month leading up to the survey. Among students who participated in 1-4 weekly hours of afterschool programming, 15% were electronically bullied; among students who participated in 5-9 hours, 14% were electronically bullied; and among students who participated in 10 or more hours, 14% were electronically bullied.

Bullying, whether electronic or in-person is an all-too-common experience for nearly one fifth of high school students in Vermont. Participation in afterschool activities is positively correlated with reported decreases in bullying behaviors. But without the benefit of a controlled study, it is impossible to know for sure if afterschool participation is the cause of the decreased instances of bullying among high school students in Vermont in 2017. We believe that we can imply some level of causation due to the research.

In addition, we know that the informal environment of afterschool programming can provide supportive opportunities to allow youth to feel safe from peer pressure, build confidence and develop their social emotional learning skills. Does this mean that bullying never happens in afterschool programs? Of course not; we would be naive to think so. But certainly afterschool programs can be intentionally designed to help students develop specific skills for coping with bullying and perhaps refrain from bullying others.

For more information about trainings that Vermont Afterschool hosts with a focus on social emotional learning (SEL) content, contact Sara Forward at saraforward@vermontafterschool.org.

 

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