The number of high school students of between 15 and 18 years of age who are reportedly involved in various types of antisocial behavior has been on the increase over the past few years (Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group, 2002).
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Disruptive behavior has a negative effect on high school students and this could result in rejection by teachers and other students. In addition, high school students who are involved in antisocial behavior are also more likely to fail or drop out of school, and abuse alcohol and drugs (Gilman, Meyers & Perez, 2004) in comparison with other students who do not engage in antisocial behavior.
Moreover, such students could interfere with the normal schooling process. In a bid to overcome this problem, schools try to encourage students to participate in various forms of extracurricular activities.
This paper is an attempt to determine whether high school students who are actively involved in extracurricular activities have fewer disciplines issues in school compared with their counterparts who do participate in extracurricular activities.
Effects of High School Students’ Participation in Extracurricular Activities on Discipline Problems in Schools
Traditionally, schools have relied on extracurricular activities as a means of providing leadership and development opportunities to students. In addition, schools have banked on extracurricular activities as a way of building the school spirit (Share 2005).
Numerous studies conducted in the past few years have tried to determine the impact of students’ participation in extracurricular activities on the academic performance and social behavior of such students.
In his study, Campbell (2006) found out that students who participate in extracurricular activities are more likely to have better attendance records, higher grade point averages, fewer discipline issues, and lower dropout rates in comparison with their counterparts who do not participate in extracurricular activities.
On the other hand, researchers like Share (2005) report that by participating in cocurricular and extracurricular activities, students are less idle, meaning that they have no time to entertain truant behavior. In addition, these kinds of activities connect students with other students, their teachers, and the school as well.
Other than building resilience in the youth by supporting their engagement in poor-social behaviors, extracurricular activities aid students’ growth on their subjective well-being (Mahoney, 2000).
Michaelson and Nakamura note that students who participate in extracurricular activities also tend to have a sense of belonging (Michaelson & Nakamura, 2001). Similar sentiments have also been echoed by Gilman et al. (2004) who note that extracurricular activities enable students to have a positive outlook towards life, and this could result in constructive outcome for adolescents.
Active participation in school extracurricular activities also enhances the emotional wellbeing of students. On the other hand, students who do not actively participate in school extracurricular activities are at risk of various negative outcomes including antisocial behavior (Mahoney, 2000).
Mazza and Eggert (2001) further note that such students could end up engaging in a variety of self-destructive behaviors like illicit substance abuse, self-destructive behaviors like suicide attempts and engaging in antisocial behaviors.
Separately, Cousins (2004) noted that by reducing the quality and number of extracurricular programs in a school, this could lead to the loss of useful avenues for directing students away from violent activities. In addition, this also reduces the capacity of a school to handle negative social and personal behaviors that would have otherwise been prevented if only students had participated in extracurricular activities.
Cousins (2004) further observes that cutting such programs from the school budget denies students the chance to socialize and improve their mental, physical, and social developmental skills.
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In another study conducted by Dick (2010) to assess the impact of students’ participation in extracurricular activities on student behavior, achievement, and attendance, the researcher found out that those students who took part in extracurricular activities tended to receive more disciplinary referrals in comparison with their counterparts who did not participate in extracurricular activities.
According to Danish (2002), students who are actively involved in extracurricular activities rarely participate in crime and delinquency, not to mention that they act as a role model for the other students in high school and the community at large.
The research findings of a study conducted by Braddock (2001) revealed that students who take part in extracurricular activities end up developing various valuable traits that are crucial not just for their success in school, but for their future endevours as well.
Some of the beneficial character traits that Braddock (2001) observed include striving for excellence, working with others, making sacrifices for the common good, following directions, and self-discipline. In their study, Feldman and Matjasko (2005) endeavored to examine the role played by school-based extracurricular activities in enhancing development among adolescents.
The authors discovered a strong link between students’ involvement with extracurricular activities and reduced delinquent behavior, as measured by substance abuse, antisocial behavior, and criminal arrests. Additionally, students who participated in extracurricular activities were also showing improvements in their academic performance.
Pate et al (2000) carried out a study in which they endeavored to examine the relationship between health-related behaviors and sports participation among US high school students. The study design was cross-sectional in nature with a sample of 14,221 students as participants, all of whom were students from various high schools in the US.
The study’s key outcome measure was to determine the prevalence of male and female students’ participation in sports, and how this was connected to such health behaviors as tobacco use, diet, illegal drug and alcohol sue, weight loss practices, sexual activity, and violence.
According to the research findings of the study, male and female respondents who took part in various sports activities were more likely to have healthy eating habits. In addition, participants who took part in sporting activities were also less likely to embrace such unhealthy habits as smoking, and taking of drugs and alcohol.
Also, participants who reported taking part in sporting activities were likely to be on a weight loss program, an indication that they wished to improve their self-esteem. Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that high school students in the US who take part in sports activities are more likely to benefit from positive health behaviors than negative health behaviors (Pate et al., 2001).
Tassitano et al (2010) also conducted a research study that was aimed at determining whether there was a link between participation in physical activity and the adoption of health-related behavior. The study’s respondents included 4,210 high school students who were randomly selected from various high schools in northeastern Brazil.
The key findings of this study was that students who attended psychical education classes reported increased consumption of vegetables and fruits and reduced consumption of soda. This is a sign that students who participated in extracurricular activities also tended to have healthier eating habits.
In addition, students who participated in physical education were also less likely to watch television during weekdays, thereby leaving them with ample time to do their homework and study for examinations.
In addition, such students were also less likely to watch violent programmes or movies on television that would influence their behaviors negatively. Based on these research findings, the researchers concluded that improved enrolment of students in psychical education classes plays a crucial role in enhancing healthy behaviors among high school students.
Adolescents who participate in structured extracurricular activities are more likely to benefit from emotional, civic, and social development than their counterparts participating in unstructured extracurricular activities (Mahoney et al., 2005). Some of the examples of structured extracurricular activities include drama clubs, sporting teams, service activities, and church groups.
On the other hand, examples of unstructured extracurricular activities include passive forms of leisure like listening to music and watching television. A study conducted by Mahoney and Statton (2000) revealed that those participants who reported talking part in unstructured leisure activities also demonstrated high levels of antisocial behavior in comparison with their counterparts who reported taking part in structured activities.
Besides enhancing positive outcomes, students who participate in different forms of extracurricular activity also appear to be immune to numerous developmentally negative behaviors.
For instance, students who participate in structured extracurricular activities are also less likely to skip school (Rose-Kransnor et al., 2006). According to Fredricks and Eccles (2005), students who are actively involved in performing arts and prosocial activities like volunteer work are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.
The idea that high school students’ participation in extracurricular activities hinders the development of antisocial behavior has also been supported by a research study conducted by Mahoney (2000) in which the author sought to examine the moderating role played by participation in school extracurricular activities in the development of antisocial behavior among high school students.
The research study conducted by Mahoney was longitudinal in design and included 695 girls and boys who were interviewed every year from childhood up to when they had completed high school.
Based on the research findings of his study, Mahoney (2000) concluded that the participation of high school students in extracurricular activities was strongly linked to a decline in the reported cases of criminal arrests. In addition, students who were actively engaged in extracurricular activities were less likely to drop out of school than their counterparts who were not actively involved in extracurricular activities.
Research findings from numerous studies conducted over the past few years seem to draw a link between the participation of high school students in extracurricular activities and reduced delinquent activities.
Besides showing improved academic performance, high school students are also actively involved in extracurricular activities also tend to have a positive outlook towards life, improved emotional wellbeing, and reduced involvement in such self-destructive behaviors as illicit substance abuse.
On the other hand, students who do not take art in extracurricular activities are at a higher risk of various negative outcomes, including antisocial behavior. There is need therefore for high school administrators to advocate for participation of students in extracurricular activities as this would be beneficial to not just the students, but also their peers, teachers, the school, and the community as well.
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Campbell, C. W. (2006). The Fayette County Board of Education’s philosophy on athletics. Retrieved from https://www.fcboe.org/
Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2002). Evaluation of the first 3 years of the Fast Track Prevention Trial with children at high risk for adolescent conduct problems. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30, 19–35.
Cousins, M. E. (2004). The relationship between student participation rates in Texas public school extracurricular activity programs and related factors of academic achievement, attendance, drop outs and discipline. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.
Danish, S. J. (2002). Teaching life skills through sport. Pp. 49-60 in Paradoxes of Youth and Sport, edited by M. Gatz, M.A. Messner, and S.J. Ball-Rokeach. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
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