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After-school program helps keep middle schoolers off drugs

Youth aged 10 to 14 years who are engaged in after-school substance abuse prevention programs are less likely to experiment with alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, according to researchers at the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University Bloomington.

"The after-school hours, Monday through Friday between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., are the critical hours for youth across the country," said Randi J. Alter, an IPRC evaluation specialist. "This is a time when adolescents are vulnerable to peer pressure to experiment with alcohol, tobacco or other drugs and to engage in other unhealthy activities due to a lack of adult supervision. Nearly all new drug experimentation in Indiana begins between the sixth and ninth grades, a developmental period when youth are becoming independent but still need guidance."

The IPRC collected data to chart the effect of the Afternoons R.O.C.K. program (standing for Recreation, Object lessons, Culture and values, and Knowledge), an Indiana state-sponsored after-school program focusing on drug prevention.

The IPRC's survey -- Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use by Indiana Children and Adolescents -- revealed reduced patterns of drug use following the implementation of Afternoons R.O.C.K. in Indiana.

"Although it is difficult to determine the exact cause of these changes in reported use among Indiana youth, we feel that the evidence suggests that Afternoons R.O.C.K. in Indiana programs played a positive role," Alter said.