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Community Service by High School Students: A Cure for Civic Ills?

Richard G. Niemi, Mary A. Hepburn and Chris Chapman
Political Behavior
Vol. 22, No. 1 (Mar., 2000), pp. 45-69
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1520061
Page Count: 25
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Community Service by High School Students: A Cure for Civic Ills?
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Abstract

In response to what some see as a crisis in civic attitudes and participation, there has been a reinvigorated effort to involve high school students in school-based community activities and in less formal, volunteer community service. Yet little is known about the extent of participation or its effects. Using a nationally representative sample of 9th-12th graders from 1996, we document a high participation rate but also note that many students perform service only once or twice a year and in limited capacities. Participation rates are related to certain student, family, and school characteristics; school policies are also significant, though arranging but not requiring participation may be the key. Participation appears to stimulate greater political knowledge, more political discussions with parents, enhanced participation skills, and higher political efficacy, but not more tolerance of diversity.

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