Beyond participation: the association between school extracurricular activities and involvement in violence across generations of immigration

J Youth Adolesc. 2012 Mar;41(3):362-78. doi: 10.1007/s10964-011-9736-5. Epub 2011 Dec 14.


Participation in extracurricular activities is purported to protect the broad spectrum of youth from a host of behavioral risks. Yet, empirical research on the extent to which this assumption holds for involvement in violence by immigrant youth is limited. Thus, using data for 13,236 (51.8% female) adolescents from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this study explores how the relationship between extracurricular activities and youth violence varies by type of extracurricular activity profile (sports alone, non-sports alone, and a combination of sports and non-sports) and by generations of immigration (first, second, and third-plus). The sample is composed of 9.3% (n = 1,233) first-generation youth, 15.7% (n = 2,080) second generation, and 74.9% (n = 9,923) third-plus generation. The results reveal that adolescents from the third-plus generation (i.e., non-immigrant youth) who participate in non-sports alone or sports plus non-sports have lower odds of involvement in violence than adolescents from the same generation who do not participate in extracurricular activities. However, for first- and second-generation adolescents, participation in extracurricular activities is associated with higher rather than lower odds of violence compared to their non-participating counterparts. These findings challenge the viewpoint that participation in mainstream extracurricular activities as afforded by US schools is equally beneficial for all youth. They also call for additional research that explores why immigrant youth are less likely than non-immigrant youth to gain violence-reducing benefits when they participate in extracurricular activities.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations
  • Juvenile Delinquency / prevention & control*
  • Juvenile Delinquency / statistics & numerical data
  • Leisure Activities / psychology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Schools / organization & administration
  • Sports / psychology*
  • Students / psychology
  • United States
  • Violence / prevention & control
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*