Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme

Investing in our children

Posted in Uncategorized by BGCOP Staff on September 20, 2010

We all love our children and have high hopes for them. We are quick to nod our heads in approval of those who say that our children are the future.

Yet, thousands of us see our hopes dashed in front of our eyes when they drop out of school, become entangled in the juvenile justice system, or become teenage parents while they are still kids themselves.

Many of us work hard and have to juggle working to support our families and having time to take care of the children who need our attention. Research indicates that as many as 10 million youths are left alone every afternoon every day of the week.

The effects of being a latchkey child differ with age and include: loneliness, boredom, fear, susceptibility to peer pressure, and developing greater potential for risky behaviors. They often show greater behavioral problems, depression and lower self-esteem than other kids. These may lead to learning problems and lower their academic performance.

We are surprised by the level of violence in our children, watch the rising trend of school dropout with fear, and worry about the future of children born to teenage parents and the well-being of the teen parents themselves. We easily forget that our society is just like our body and can be healthier if we take preventive measures early on so we do not have to suffer poor health.

Some years ago, I was asked to evaluate the after-school program of Rio School District. I embraced this opportunity as an economist with a keen interest in the study of the economics of social issues. I educated myself about our after-school programs and for several years took the pulse of the behavior, perception and attitude of children who attend the Rio after-school program that is managed and run by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme.

I studied the views and perception of their parents about the program. We regularly surveyed those teachers who teach the kids attending the after-school programs and inquired about the views and the opinion of the counselors, the program coordinators and the administrators.

The results of this work came out in several annual reports that have been presented to the school district and the public through the efforts of the local Boys and Girls Clubs. The results speak for themselves and can be accessed via the website of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme.

Every day, hundreds of students end their school day and head toward the Boys and Girls Clubs.The program provides a safe place where they receive help with their academic work, find friends, engage in much-needed physical activities, learn how to get along peacefully with others around them and discover their artistic, academic and athletic talents.

Without the clubs, many of these youngsters would be without proper supervision, at-risk and susceptible to negative influences and threats. In some other families, a parent would have to stay home from work to provide such supervision, but this would reduce the family’s earnings and economic security. The clubs are an important social asset serving such working families.

Development of human capital is recognized as a universal need for creation of economic values. We have opportunities and obligations as societies. It is easy to lose perspective on how our societies change for better or worse if we see social and economic changes as isolated, unrelated and random events.

We have a choice to invest in our children for a better tomorrow or let this opportunity slip away and face its negative consequences. Investing in our children in order for them to realize their full potential is the best option before us and for hundreds of our families in Oxnard and Port Hueneme supporting the after-school program of Rio District through the Boys and Girls Clubs is the way to move forward.

— Jamshid Damooei is chairman of the department of economics, finance and accounting and co-director of the Center for Leadership and Values at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. An expert in economic research, he has conducted numerous studies both locally and in the worlds’s developing countries. E-mail him at

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