Teens who volunteer are at a lower risk of becoming criminals

Jan 8 2017 - 1:18am
Volunteering

Researchers say teens who do more volunteer work exhibit less criminal activity as adults.

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There generally appears to be the assumption that doing volunteer work helps to create good character. University of Iowa reports there is less illegal activity seen in adults who did a lot of volunteering when they were teens.

Teens who took part in volunteer activities independently had less behaviors that were illegal

The researchers found teens who took part in volunteer activities independently had 11 percent less behaviors that were illegal between the ages of 18 and 28 than teens who did not do any volunteer work. Also teens who volunteer also had 31 percent less arrests and 39 percent less convictions. This positive trend continued with age as self-volunteers reported 53 percent less arrests and 36 percent less convictions between 24 and 34 years old.

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Self-empowering experiences such as volunteering may help nurture a sense of social responsibility, self-worth, and happiness

Shabbar Ranapurwala, who was the study’s lead author and who is on the faculty at the UI College of Public Health and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says major moral and emotional development is seen during
adolescence. It seems that self-empowering experiences such as volunteering may help nurture a sense of social responsibility, self-worth, and happiness which assists in moral development. The researchers found there was a similar decrease in arrests and convictions seen in those who were required to volunteer by adults versus those who chose to self-volunteer.

This study has been published in the journal Injury Epidemiology. The experience of volunteering
during adolescence may have a lasting impact during adult life. It has been suggested by this study that volunteering during adolescence may have a protective association with crime involvement during adulthood. It seems to be a no lose situation to encourage teens to do some volunteer work.

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