A School-Level Analysis of Adolescent Extracurricular Activity, Delinquency, and Depression: The Importance of Situational Context
In this article we investigate the extent to which the relationship between extracurricular activities and youth development depends on situational contexts. Using a national sample including 13,466 youths in grades 7–12 across 120 schools, we conduct school-level analyses of the association between extracurricular activities, delinquency, and depression. Three main findings are reported. First, we observe near-normal distributions across schools in the proportions of delinquent or depressed youths involved in extracurricular activities, illustrating that extracurricular activities can be positive, neutral, or negative settings for youth development. Second, within individual schools we fail to uncover consistent associations in the propensity of delinquent or depressed youth to be involved with different types of extracurricular activities. Third, standard macro-level context variables do not explain the observed variations within or between schools. The results suggest that the relationships between extracurricular activities, delinquent conduct and depressive symptoms among youth ultimately depend more upon micro-level contextual factors than the type or content of the activities themselves.
KeywordsExtracurricular activities Delinquency Depression Youth development Context
This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by a grant P01-HD31921 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 (http://www.cpc.unc.edu/addhealth/contract.html). The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments.
- Agnew R. (2007). Pressured into crime: An overview of general strain theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Bearman, P., Jones, J., & Udry, J. (1997). The national longitudinal study of adolescent health: Research design. Chapel Hill, NC: Carolina Population Center.Google Scholar
- Carolina Population Center. (2001). National longitudinal study of adolescent health: Wave I network variables code book. Retrieved August 20, 2007 from: http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth/codebooks/wave1.
- Chantala, K., & Tabor, J. (1999). Strategies to perform a design-based analysis using the Add Health data. Chapel Hill, NC: Carolina Population Center.Google Scholar
- Darling, N., Caldwell, L. L., & Smith, R. (2005). Participation in school-based extracurricular activities and adolescent adjustment. Journal of Leisure Research, 37, 51–76.Google Scholar
- Dodge, K. A., Dishion, T. J., & Lansford, J. E. (Eds.). (2006). Deviant peer influences in programs for youth. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Durlak, J. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (2007). The impact of after-school programs that promote personal and social skills. Chicago, IL: Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.Google Scholar
- Eccles J. S., & Gootman J. A. (Eds.). (2002). Community programs to promote youth development. Washington DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
- Gottfredson, M., & Hirschi, T. (1990). A general theory of crime. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hirschi, T. (1969). Causes of delinquency. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Holland, A., & Andre, T. (1987). Participation in extracurricular activities in secondary school: What is known, what needs to be known? Review of Educational Research, 57, 437–466.Google Scholar
- Kane, T. J. (2004). The impact of after-school programs: Interpreting the results of four recent evaluations. New York: W. T. Grant Foundation.Google Scholar
- Lareau, A. (2003). Unequal childhoods: Class, race and family life. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Lerner, R. M. (2005). Forward: Promoting positive youth development through community and after school programs. In J. L. Mahoney, R. W. Larson, & J. S. Eccles (Eds.), Organized activities as contexts of development: Extracurricular activities, after-school and community programs (pp. ix–xii). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Mahoney, J. L., Harris, A. L., & Eccles, J. S. (2006). Organized activity participation, positive youth development, and the over-scheduling hypothesis. SRCD Social Policy Report, 20(4), 1–31.Google Scholar
- Mahoney J., Larson R., & Eccles J. (Eds.). (2005). Organized activities as contexts of development. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Marsh, H. W., & Kleitman, S. (2002). Extracurricular school activities: The good, the bad, and the nonlinear. Educational Review, 72, 464–514.Google Scholar
- McRee, N., & Cote, R. (2002). Does college debate inherit a lack of diversity from high school debate? Contemporary Argumentation and Debate, 23, 27–43.Google Scholar
- O’Brien, E., & Rollefson, M. (1995). Extracurricular participation and student engagement (Education Policy Issues: Statistical Perspectives). US Department of Education: Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs95/95741.pdf.
- Pedersen, S., & Seidman, E. (2005). Contexts and correlates of out-of-school activity participation among low-income urban adolescents. In J. Mahoney, R. Larson, & J. Eccles J. (Eds.), Organized activities as contexts of development: Extracurricular activities, after-school and community programs (pp. 85–109). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Rogoff, B. (1990). Apprenticeship in thinking: Cognitive development in social context. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Scott-Little, C., Hamann, S., & Jurs, S. G. (2002). Evaluations of after-school programs: A meta-evaluation of methodologies and narrative synthesis of findings. American Journal of Evaluation, 23, 387–419.Google Scholar
- Shweder, R. A., Goodnow, J., Hatano, G., LeVine, R. A., Markus, H., & Miller, P. (1998). The cultural psychology of development: One mind, many mentalities. In W. Damon, & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 1. Theoretical models of human development (5th ed., pp. 865–923). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Sokol-Katz, J., Kelley, M. S., Bassinger-Fleischman, L., & Braddock, J. H. (2006). Re-examining the relationship between interscholastic sport participation and delinquency: Type of sport matters. Sociological Focus, 39, 173–192.Google Scholar
- Tracy, P. E., Wolfgang, M. E., & Figlio, R. M. (1990). Delinquency careers in two birth cohorts. New York, NY: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
- Wankel, L., & Berger, B. (1990). The psychological and social benefits of sport and physical activity. Journal of Leisure Research, 22, 167–182.Google Scholar
- Wolfgang, M. E., Figlio, R. M., & Sellin, T. (1972). Delinquency in a birth cohort. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar