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An ongoing debate that seems to be at the center of much attention is whether community service should be mandatory in Americas high

schools. Numerous schools across the country have mandated that in order for their students to graduate, they must complete a predetermined amount of community service. This action though has been met with opposition from various groups who have denounced its mandatory enforcement. Proponents of mandatory community service argue that it helps build leadership skills in students and better prepares them for future jobs in which leadership is valued. t also serves as a symbiotic relationship between the volunteer and the recipient. This can be attributed to the fact that participation in community service simultaneously helps diversify an individuals college application while providing free, beneficial services to the recipient. !esearch has also shown that on average, students involved in any sort of community service graduate at a higher rate than those who are not. nner city school districts such as "hicago, #eattle and $ashington %." have noticed this trend and as a result have made it a mandatory graduation re&uirement. #ome politicians in New 'ork "ity are pushing for the citys school system to follow suit though the (oard of )d has refused to do so. *pponents of mandatory community service e+press the belief that community service isn,t a subject that should be forced upon students. True volunteering lies in an individuals will and drive to help others and enforcing it eliminates that drive. (y forcing students to do community service, school officials are essentially doing the e&uivalent of the mandatory system practiced in penitentiaries across the nation. -urthermore, by implementing mandatory community service, students are burdened with yet an e+tra criteria to meet in order to graduate. .any students seem to agree with this stance as a survey conducted in /00/ by the "ouncil for )+cellence in 1overnment 'outh showed that a majority of high school aged students were against mandatory community service. (ased on previous e+periences, am personally think community service should indeed be mandatory due to the benevolent effects it has on recipients. $hether it is helping clean up a park, tutoring, or just accompanying a senior citi2en, the end results are usually positive and encouraging. .ost non for3profit organi2ations count on volunteers to stay afloat and the addition of a surplus of students will further help their cause. t is important to note that there has been a rise in the amount of individuals volunteering annually, especially college freshmen. #ome can attribute this to the fact that our current President spent a bulk of his early political years doing community service and has made it one of his key social programs. This illustrates how the previous generation placed a strong emphasis on community service. The onus is now on this generation and posterity to follow suit and mandatory community service is the best way to ensure that.

!e&uiring student participation in wider 4real community4 projects, under appropriate supervision, will help the young person,s all3round development. Naturally projects should not e+pose young people to untoward dangers. They should be well supervised5 within the abilities of the young person5 provide the young person scope to e+pand their knowledge and skills5 allow them to serve or perform a useful role5 connect with chosen people from the community and come to be a genuine part of community, integrated with it, not segregated from it5 and projects should be of nature that there is scope to 4get it wrong4 and learn. .any community projects are possible for a wide range of ages and abilities6 from helping plant trees and vegetation with a land care group, to doing behind the scenes chores at a drop3in center5 from entertaing isolated folk in nursing homes, to doing a working bee at the local playgroup5 from teaching 4computers4 or technology to retirees, to learning languages or crafts from community groups5 from helping with gardening, to doing yard tidying. *lder young people may even benefit from 4work e+perience4 in offices and shops, garages and trade places. #o what benefits are there for the young person7 8. The young person gains new skills, insight, knowledge and abilities in a practical setting. /. The social integration of young people goes someway to alleviating the generation gap 3 that is the breakdown in communication and understanding 3 between people of different generations that has fragmented communities across the world. 'oung people are brought into relationship and connection with people and groups they would otherwise not meet. 9. The young person has a chance to integrate with the community, develop :supervised; relationships with mature role models, e+posing themselves to positive e+amples that augment their narrow world of immature peers. <. The young person is e+tended to think and act beyond self3interest and personal gain5 and do something positive for the community. They have a chance to develop a sense of responsibility for the community in a way that would not be possible if they were not a part of it, working for it, and supporting it directly. =. The young person e+tends their sense of personal identity coming to see themselves as a part of the wider community. )ven minimal acceptance and belonging in this wider community is so valuable to rival the world of gangs and fickle peer acceptance that otherwise dominates their lives. >. The young person will grow in self3worth realising they have much to give the community 3 especially if they are sharing a skill or knowledge 3 and should be

empowered to realise that they have a positive role to play in helping others, so helping their sense of self3worth and value. ?. .any projects are simply fun to do, giving the young person a break from the classroom and the artificial routine that otherwise dominates their lives, $hile it make take some organi2ing to ensure that suitable tasks are found for particular students, that the young person is always safe and community engagement is properly supervised, the benefits for students themselves and the wider community abound

Service-learning has a positive effect on the personal development of public school youth.

.iddle and high school students who engaged in &uality service3learning programs showed increases in measures of personal and social responsibility, communication and sense of educational competence :$eiler, et. al., 8@@A;. #tudents who engaged in service3learning ranked responsibility as a more important value and reported a higher sense of responsibility to their school than comparison groups :Beming, 8@@A;. #tudents perceive themselves to be more socially competent after engaging in service3learning :#cales and (lyth, 8@@?5 *(annon, 8@@@5 .organ and #treb, 8@@@;. #tudents who engaged in service3learning were more likely to treat each other kindly, help each other and care about doing their best :(erkas, 8@@?;. #tudents who engaged in service3learning were more likely to increase their sense of self3esteem and self3efficacy :#haffer, 8@@9;. .iddle school male students reported increased self3esteem and fewer behavioral problems after engaging in service3learning :#wit2er, et. al., 8@@=;.

Service-learning provides opportunities for students to become active, positive contributors to society.

Cigh school students who participated in service3learning and service are more likely to be engaged in a community organi2ation and to vote 8= years after their participation in the program than those who did not participate :'ouniss, et. al., 8@@?5 'ates and 'ouniss, 8@@A;. Cigh school students from five states who participated in high &uality service3 learning programs increased their political attentiveness, political knowledge and desire to become more politically active :.organ and #treb, 8@@@;. #tudents who engage in service3learning feel that they can Dmake a differenceE :*(annon, 8@@@5 "airn, 8@@@;. *ver A0 percent of participants in high &uality service3learning programs felt that they had made a positive contribution to the community :.elchior, 8@@@5 (illig and "onrad, 8@@?5 #cales and (lyth, 8@@?;.

Service-learning helps students acquire academic skills and knowledge.

#tudents in over half of the high &uality service3learning schools studied showed moderate to strong positive gains on student achievement tests in language arts andFor reading, engagement in school, sense of educational accomplishment and homework completion :$eiler, et. al., 8@@A;. #ervice3learning participation was associated with higher scores on the state test of basic skills :Anderson, et. al., 8@@8; and higher grades :#humer, 8@@<5 #haffer, 8@@95 %ean and .urdock, 8@@/5 *(annon, 8@@@;.

)ighty3three percent of schools with service3learning programs reported that grade point averages of participating service3learning students improved ?> percent of the time :-ollman, 8@@@;. .iddle and high school students who participated in service3learning tutoring programs increased their grade point averages and test scores in readingFlanguage arts and math and were less likely to drop out of school :#upik, 8@@>5 !ol2inski, 8@@0;. )lementary and middle school students who participated in service3learning had improved problem3solving skills and increased interest in academics :#tephens, 8@@=;.

Essentially, service learning has demonstrated benefits for numerous aspects of


students' lives, for a wide range of students (especially those placed at-risk); and the academic progress has been noted in both quantitative reports of standardi ed test score and grade point averages, and qualitative !udgments of engagement in learning" #any of the non-academic benefits of service learning are the same found in volunteering and community service"

What Are the Benefits of Involvement in Volunteering and Community Service?

$lthough it is apparent that community service benefits others in some way,


before creating and maintaining widespread programs, policymakers would like to know how e%actly students themselves benefit from participation in these activities" $ great deal of research has been done on this sub!ect, resulting in evidence for multiple kinds of benefits" $mong the most significant

gains reported are the psychological, social, and cognitive benefits e%perienced by students"

Psychological Benefits:
&verall, sources indicate that students have shown increases in positive feelings and mental health, and decreases in depression and stress"

Less Stress & Depression, and More Life Satisfaction

'rom their analysis of collected data, (eggy )hoits and *yndi +ewitt (,--.) assert that /voluntary association membership contributes to decreased psychological distress and buffers the negative consequences of stressors (0ietschlin .112); it increases life satisfaction and decreases depression (3an 4illigen .112)"/

That "Feel Good" Feeling

$ccording to an article in 5urrent +ealth . maga ine, /6i7n a recent survey by (rudential 8nsurance 5ompany, the number-one reason that young people named for volunteering was that it made them feel good" Eightynine percent said so"/

pro!ed Mental "ealth

9teven 9mith (.111) indicates that /6v7olunteering appears to be related to longer life spans and improved mental health,/ although he also notes that /"""the type of volunteering is likely to make a big difference in the effects on mental health"/

Social Benefits:
:y participating in service pro!ects, students forge bonds with each other, as well as other

members of the community" )hese bonds enhance their interpersonal skills and increase their social network" $dditionally, volunteerism can lead to increased care for others and a desire to cooperate and get involved in positive ways, even among those who had previously e%hibited antisocial tendencies (9mith .111)" $nother ma!or benefit of volunteering is the feeling of social connectedness that appears to be waning in our increasingly segmented society" #any students have reported an increased sense of social responsibility, and a subsequent desire to /give back/ to the communities from which they have come"

Tr#st, $ooperation, and $iti%enship

$ccording to 9teven 9mith (.111), /6v7olunteering by teenagers""" appears to modestly inhibit antisocial behaviors"/ +e also indicates that, in addition to reducing negative inclinations such as mistrust and lack of concern for others, volunteering can create positive forces" /3olunteerism can create social capital-- that is, social networks of trust and cooperation-- that can then promote greater political involvement in public affairs"/ (9mith .111)

pro!ed $o

#nication S&ills

8n a .11. article by #arty :rewster et al", various students offer their testimonials which link increased volunteerism to increased communication skills" $dditionally, #atthew ;elson of the <niversity of #ichigan attests to similar gains in his personal reflection on past volunteering e%periences"

Positi!e 'pport#nities for (t)*is& +o#th

#any sources indicate, and indeed many organi ations have been set up on the premise, that community service pro!ects help redirect energies of at-risk youth to more positive social activities" /'or e%ample, 5ity =ear, is a largely volunteer program that brings together young people from diverse backgrounds to work on community pro!ects" 8t is hoped that participation in 5ity =ear activities will""" offer youths more direction and hope for the future, and provide a learning e%perience on serious social problems"/ (9mith .111)

$ogniti!e Benefits:
)here is a common saying that /you learn something new everyday"/ )his definitely holds true for volunteering" 4ith each new e%perience, old skills are developed as new ones are learned" ;ew information is integrated with past e%perience, and one's knowledge base grows" $dditionally, the lessons learned from volunteering frequently support and enrich understandings of how the community is set up to function" 'urthermore, when students reflect upon and share their e%periences, they e%perience great cognitive gains" >iane +edin (.121) says that?

/&ne of the best supported findings of research about community service is that students learn most (knowledge about the people for whom they volunteer, attitudes about being responsible, and being active citi ens, and problem solving skills) when they are in programs that have regular opportunities to process and talk about their direct e%periences"/

)hese cognitive gains are a large part of the reason for incorporating volunteering and community service into various curricula and requirements"

Political and $i!ic (,areness

$n article by 9teven 9mith (.111) states that /6t7hrough participation in voluntary associations, individuals will develop a keener appreciation for civic affairs and understand more completely their obligations to participate in the political process"/ 8ndeed, people learn about the politics of their civic systems by e%periencing and observing the effects of the policies on their communities"

-.pos#re to Di!ersity, M#ltic#lt#ralis Thin&ing

, and Different /ays of

9andra *e9ourd (.11@) states that /6p7erspective taking is the intellectual ability that is germane to affirmation of differences for clarification of the public good"/ )his means that it is necessary to take the perspectives of others in order to truly understand the benefits that come out of differences" :y becoming involved in various aspects of community life, facets which students would be unlikely to involve themselves otherwise, students gain new information to consider and new ways to think about things" 'requently, they learn a lot from conversing with those whom they help or work with, as they may encounter new points of view" $ccording to *e9ourd (.11@), this is beneficial because the /ideals of democratic life cannot encompass a ll members of the national community until people of different traditions li sten to the voices of others"/

$ritical Thin&ing and Pro0le

Sol!ing S&ills

$ccording to >iane +edin (.121), /6t7he situations in which young people learn most are ones in which they have the opportunity to determine what needs to be done at developmentally appropriate levels of responsibility"/ 4hen students are given the opportunities and responsibilities of decision making in a task that is interesting and important to them, they tend to think more deeply about the issues at hand and /use their most comple% thinking skills/ (+edin .121) to solve the problem"