Extracurricular Involvement in the School-Age Period and Adolescent Problem Behavior Among Low-Income Youth

Julia S. Feldman, Yiyao Zhou, Chelsea Weaver Krug, Melvin N. Wilson, Kathryn Lemery-Chalfant, Daniel S. Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: The present study tested the protective role of youth’s school-age extracurricular involvement and multiple informants’ reports of adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems in a sample of youth fromlow-income households. Method: Participating youth (n = 635, 49% female, 49% White, 28% Black/AfricanAmerican, 14% biracial, 8% other race, 13% Hispanic/Latinx) were drawn from the Early Steps MultisiteStudy. At ages 7.5, 8.5, and 9.5, primary caregivers reported the number of extracurricular activities for whichyouth participated (Parent Aftercare Survey). At ages 14 and 16, measures of internalizing and externalizingproblems were collected from primary and alternate caregivers (Child Behavior Checklist) and target youth(Child Depression Inventory—Short Form, Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children, and Self-Report ofDelinquency). At age 16, target youth also contributed measures of risky sexual behaviors and substance use(Youth Risk Behavior Survey). Teachers contributed measures of youth’s internalizing and externalizingproblems at age 14 (Teacher Report Form). Results: After accounting for the effects of multiple sociodemographicfactors, initial levels of child problembehavior, and intervention group status, structural equationmodels revealed that school-age extracurricular involvement was inversely associated with latent factorsrepresenting adolescent externalizing, but not internalizing, problems at ages 14 (β = −.13, p <.01) and 16(β = −.12, p =.02). Conclusions: The present study suggests that low-income, school-age children’sinvolvement in extracurricular activities serves a protective function in relation to adolescent externalizingproblems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)947-955
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of consulting and clinical psychology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2021


  • Externalizing
  • Extracurricular
  • Internalizing
  • Low-income

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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