Student Achievement

Looking Back at the ‘Juvenile Decency Corps’

By Mary-Ellen Phelps Deily — April 27, 2010 1 min read

I loved this recent item about Washington, D.C.'s long-ago “Juvenile Decency Corps” in ASCD’s inservice blog. And, while I concede that the name of the group sounds out of date, its mission was anything but.

The Juvenile Decency Corps focused on helping 250 children in a troubled three-block area in Washington stay in school and out of trouble. In the summer of 1963, teen volunteers were trained so they could work with younger children on enriching activities. The volunteers would tutor younger children, play games with them, lead them through arts and crafts projects, and take them on field trips. The goal was to let children “have a good time yet stay out of trouble,” according to this May 1964 article in ASCD’s Educational Leadership magazine.

What I find interesting is this early linking of summer activities and teen responsibility to preventing delinquency during the regular school year. Was this program ahead of its time, or did other communities offer such initiatives in the early 1960s? And, I’d love to know what happened to the Juvenile Decency Corps and about similar efforts under way today.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Beyond School blog.