Community Engagement and Volunteer Work to Reduce Crime and Anti-Social Behavior

Universities offer a wide range of activities for community engagement and volunteer work. Some universities require a service learning component for a graduating diploma; whereas at other universities, community service is not required. However, activities in the community can be a wonderful opportunity for reducing anti-social behavior among university students and averting students’ time away from criminal activities.

When universities require a volunteering component, students who would not ordinarily seek out such opportunities are forced to do so. These activities bring youths out into the community in acts of service that have a positive impact, the tangibility of which may be a new experience for the student. This is an opportunity for a student to see that their actions matter, and that they are relevant in the world. They can also learn that by engaging in criminal activity, they may affect others, which may be a deterrent to crime.

Students who struggle with social interactions may develop useful skills, which are beneficial to their futures, but also may avert tendencies toward anti-social behaviors. Through volunteer activities, students may develop connections and friendships with both community members and peers, leading to a reduction in social isolation. Further, their idle time will be reduced, which also serves to reduce anti-social behaviors and criminal activities. When students are responsible for their time and must adhere to a schedule, any deviations will be quickly noticed and nipped in the bud. Also, students will feel accountable to others, thereby increasing their sense of personal and social responsibility.

Most importantly, when students feel that their work matters, and that they are an asset to not just the university, but to the community at large, they will become more positive. Universities will benefit students, reduce social isolation, decrease crime, and reduce the incidence of anti-social behaviors by expanding opportunities for community engagement and volunteering, as well as perhaps making some of these components mandatory.

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