Summer Jobs May Reduce Teen Violence, Study Says

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Summer jobs may help reduce violence, according to a recent study that found that low-income Boston teens who held down summer jobs were less likely to engage in violence than teens without jobs.

The study, conducted by researchers at Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, surveyed more than 400 young people who obtained employment last summer through a State Street Foundation youth violence prevention program.

During the initial survey, 3 percent of young people involved with the program reported either threatening or attacking another person with a gun in the month prior to beginning their summer jobs. By the end of the program, however, just 1 percent of participants reported attacking or threatening someone with a firearm in the last month of the study.

Similarly, 15 percent of young people in the program said they had been involved in a fight in the month prior to the beginning of the program. That number fell to 8 percent by the end of the summer.

The study also found that holding down a summer job may make it easier for teens to find jobs in the fall, and reduce the likelihood young people will engage in risky behaviors, such as alcohol or drug use.

However, Andrew Sum, director of Northeastern’s Center for Labor Market Studies, said the potential benefits of summertime employment are being felt by fewer and fewer teenagers.

“High school students working today work at less than a 50 percent rate than they did back in 2000,” he is told PBS.

The number was even lower for disadvantaged inner-city youths, he said.

“You find low-income kids work at the lowest rates by far,” he said. “When you combine them, take a young black high school dropout low-income male, you’re talking 5 percent employment.”


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