Is the Scoutreach Initiative of Boy Scouts of America Linked to Character Development among Socioeconomically, Racially, and Ethnically Diverse Youth?: Initial Explorations
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Youth development programs represent key tools in the work of youth-serving practitioners and researchers who strive to promote character development and other attributes of youth thriving, particularly among youth who may confront structural and social challenges related to their racial, ethnic, and/or economic backgrounds. This article conducts secondary analyses of two previously reported studies of a relatively recent innovation in Boy Scouts of America (BSA) developed for youth from low-income communities, Scoutreach. Our goal is to provide descriptive and admittedly preliminary exploratory information about whether these data sets-one involving a sample of 266 youth of color from socioeconomically impoverished communities in Philadelphia (M age = 10.54 years, SD = 1.58 years) and the other involving a pilot investigation of 32 youth of color from similar socioeconomic backgrounds in Boston (M age = 9.97 years, SD = 2.46 years)-provide evidence for a link between program participation and a key indicator of positive development; that is, character development. Across the two data sets, quantitative and qualitative evidence suggested the presence of character development among Scoutreach participants. Limitations of both studies are discussed and implications for future longitudinal research are presented. We suggest that future longitudinal research should test the hypothesis that emotional engagement is key to creating the conditions wherein Scoutreach participation is linked to character development.
author list (cited authors)
Wang, J., Champine, R. B., Ferris, K. A., Hershberg, R. M., Warren, D. J., Burkhard, B. M., Su, S., & Lerner, R. M.