Young people matter today and are also our future. Never before have they been so high on the public agenda – positively and negatively. Never before has so much space or resource been afforded directly to young people themselves to speak about their concerns, interests and aspirations. There is still, however, more to be done before all young people achieve their full potential. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, in considering the latest report from the UK, welcomed progress but made 120 recommendations on vital areas where the UK is still failing to meet international standards on the treatment of children and young people. These included acting in the best interests of children and the negative portrayal of children and young people from disadvantaged groups. 2 The recession offers an immediate threat: there is little doubt that those young people without skills and qualifications will be most vulnerable in the labour market. Indeed, the latest labour market survey shows that unemployment is growing fastest among 18 to 24 year-olds: 3
“The emphasis is on relationships within the peer mediation programme and that wouldn’t be the case maybe in formal education where the emphasis is on acquiring knowledge, acquiring academic skills and so on. Where often the interpersonal aspects of development are certainly not stressed, are not seen to be as important, whereas in the peer mediation, it’s really flipping the coin over completely and it’s the interpersonal skills that are emphasized and again I’ll come back to what I said earlier, very often children who are not academic have very good and well developed interpersonal skills because they may be coming from a domestic background where they have for instance caring responsibilities… but in the normal course of the school year… we have very little opportunity to acknowledge that or even to reward it or celebrate it in any way. It helps us to get to know the children better. There is a sort of percolating effect where maybe you will find out that the child, who may not be very attentive in class or may be challenging in terms of behaviour… that there may be reasons for that in the home or in terms of what they have experienced in their life and that is something that can come out through peer mediation and through counselling that is associated with the peer mediation. Our experience is that the children who become peer mediators quite often are not the academically brightest children but they are the ones who have street credibility with their peers and who bring that experiential learning that has already taken place into the school. The peer mediation gives them an opportunity to put those skills on display as it were and often they are very good at it.”
Transforming YouthWork-Resourcing Excellent Youth Services (DfEE 2001) was published at a time when the Government’s Connexions Service was being launched and required youth services to focus all the “resources at their disposal for providing youthwork to the Connexions Service” DfEE 2001, p.12). Smith (2002) critiques that “one of the inescapable features of this is that they have to address centrally defined targets and work within the Connexions strategy”. This strategy was an approach by the government of the day to remove “any wider barriers to effective engagement in learning that young people are suffering” (DfEE 2001, Ch.6). Merton et al. (2004, p.5) confirm the shift that has taken place in youthwork practice over the preceding forty years by proposing that its purpose is being “increasingly framed in terms of its contribution to social inclusion” with Youth Workers acting “as a bridge between young people and their families and the services that are established to provide for and support them – for example, schools, health, social work, youth justice (Merton et al 2004, p.8). With “a growing recognition of failures in the Connexions Service” and “problems around perceived quality in state-sponsored youth services” (Smith 2005), Youth Matters (Department for Education 2005) a government green paper on youth, presented a number of tensions. While clearly developing the thrust of previous documents such as Every Child Matters (Department for Education 2003) that supported the role of youthwork in working with marginalised young people with statements such as “youthwork has a vital role to play in identifying and engaging young people with additional needs” (Department for Education 2005, p.34), the paper proposed steering youth policy towards more structured provision by focusing on building the role of schools and colleges. By anticipating “a new and a reinvigorated role for youth workers” (Department for Education 2005, p.71), the authors clearly saw them not as builders of social capital as in the origins of English youthwork but as promoters of what Smith (2005) referred to as “the erosion of one of the key features of good youthwork - that it provides young people with space away from the constant surveillance of families, schools and the state; space to find and be themselves.”
Youthwork is at the same time very old practice and a very new one. While its beginnings stretch back to the child-saver movements of the last century (Ewen 1983), youthwork in Australia has really only moved beyond a volunteer movement with a principal interest in young people’s moral (and sometimes physical) hygiene in the last twenty five years. For the last fifteen of those years, the debate on what youthwork is, or perhaps what youthwork isn’t, has ebbed and flowed. The question of whether youthwork should see itself as a profession, with the attendant disciplines of a code of ethics, mandatory training, professional registration (and deregistration), a professional association and all the rest has been part of that debate.
On the other hand, a considerable body of resilience literature provides a reasonable second interpretation of the given results. Evidence on the behavioural, emotional, academic, and relational impacts of young people’s exposure to multiple risks, or cumulative stressors (e.g., poly- victimization) suggests that individual strengths may not hold buffering merits within high-risk populations. Specifically, multiple risks, according to Ungar (2004) and other pioneering “recovery after trauma” resilience researchers (e.g., Garmezy, 1993; Beardslee, 1989; Garmezy, Masten, & Tellegan, 1984; Rutter, 1979/2000; Cicchetti & Rogosch, 1993; Sameroff & Seifer, 1990) refers to the effects of multiple demographic, psychosocial, and environmental risk factors on child adjustment. Rather, multiple risk factors exponentially increase vulnerabilities and maladaptive outcomes for children and youth across the lifespan (Lanza, Rhoades, Nix, & Greenberg, 2010; Kolar, 2011; Olsson et al., 2003). Exposure to particularly cumulative stressors is associated not only with depressive and anxious symptoms, but aggressive behaviour, poor academic performance, and disruptions in social relationships (Kliewer, Reid-Quiñones, Shields, & Foutz, 2009). Such findings put into context the idea that regardless of racial or ethnic background, young people who live in at-risk neighborhoods or have fewer resources, for example, are more likely to exhibit negative outcomes than those who face fewer environmental, social, and individual risks (Kliewer, Reid-Quiñones, Shields, & Foutz, 2009).
While intended to prevent further harm, children receiving child welfare services, especially ones placed into out-of-care, may be placed at risk for more problems. A study found worse mental health and behavioral problems for foster youth compared to youth with similar maltreatment histories who were not placed into care (Lawrence, Carlson, & Egeland, 2006). Another study found that children on the margin of placement (as opposed to those at high risk) had better outcomes related to delinquency, teen motherhood, and employment when they remained in the home, especially older children (Doyle, 2007). Finally, a study found that preschool children placed into out-of-home care had greater odds of substance abuse, mental health disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, and criminal convictions compared to a matched comparison group not placed into care (Cote, Orri, Marttila, & Ristikari, 2018).
11 going to take the piss out of me for being deaf. But they don’t’. Another young person said: ‘Even though I’m deaf, I still get accepted by like, most of the people there’. The embedded value of ‘respect’ in youthwork (NYA, 2001) as well as the importance of what Davies (2015: 100) describes as valuing young people for who they are ‘not through the filter of adult imposed labels’ are factors underpinning this feeling of acceptance. Such feelings of acceptance are important and evidence a deep level of emotion and connectedness which needs to be acknowledged. For example it is significant when a young person states: ‘this is the only place I feel like I fit in and belong’. This aspect often tends to be subsumed superficially within notions of ‘somewhere to go’. This even occurred within Williamson’s (1996) early research. Also of importance is what Williamson (1996: 22) describes as providing young people with: ‘a place where you’re still given a chance’. This was also evidenced in the research where a young person states: ‘I used to try and beat everyone up. Then I got banned for two weeks, you gave me a second chance no one’s done that for me before’. Another theme allied to association was the idea of ‘routine’ and this was often alluded to by young people when attending youth club sessions. For example: ‘It’s just normal, we always come here Tuesday and Friday, it’s what we do’ and again young person said: ‘I sit at home in the holidays waiting for club to be on again! I don’t know what to do with myself when it is not on’. However this idea of routine should not be confused with the sense of mundane and routinized habit. The club is evidently an embedded part of the young people’s lives and it provides
As society grows increasingly diverse, it is critical that youth development professionals are equipped with cultural core competencies. This descriptive study gauged the perceived level of cultural competence among 4-H Youth Development professionals from a Southern state in the United States. Based on the 4-H Professional Research, Knowledge, and Competency (PRKC) Model (Stone & Rennekamp, 2004), youth development professionals rated their cultural competence (equity, access, and opportunity) in eight core competency areas. Based on a five-point Likert scale ranging from 0 = No knowledge to 4 = Expert, youth development professionals evaluated their cultural competence ranging from 0.66 to 4.00. According to an interpretive scale, most youth development professionals rated their competence as intermediate. Participants reported the skills of active listening and an open attitude as areas in which they felt most competent. Areas of least competence were community outreach policies and procedures. No significant relationships existed between the demographic variables of gender, degree earned, and field of study when compared to perceived cultural competence. The findings will be used to detect deficiencies and create opportunities for professional training and development experiences in supporting the cultural competence and growth of youth professionals.
clearly a risk factor for children’s poor development and limited educational outcomes, and it may be that risk in the early years will continue to have an effect even if the family moves out of poverty later in the child’s life (Patrice et al., 2008). Due to deprivation there is limited access to good education and less participation in elementary education ( Chaudhuri & Jha, 2011 ). Longer periods of poverty in families, non-availability of and poor accessibility to schools in the locality and lack of proper transportation have forced many children to leave the school and work in hazardous situations (Times of India, 2012). Children from disadvantaged households perform poorly (low scores) compared to peers from more advantaged backgrounds (New York Times, 2011). The magnitude, depth, duration and timing of poverty influence a child’s educational attainment in all section of society (Ferguson, Bovaird, & Muller, 2007). Children from poor households are late to receive schooling, experience more drop-out and work during study, irrespective of castes and religion (Malik & Mohanty, 2009). Family income is the most important determinant of child and adolescent education and well- being (Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, 1997). Socioeconomic status (SES) is the single strongest predictor of child schooling and achievement in school and there are various negative influences due to low SES on children’s overall development (Levin, 2007). Children living in poverty are more likely to perform poorly in school examinations and they are prone
Partnerships with employers. For programs that involve a job or internship component, connections with employers are necessary in order to arrange for youths’ job positions. The ease of establishing these partnerships will affect how many youth can be served and what type of job experience can be offered. As is common for many programs offering job placements, regardless of the program’s target population, potential partners sometimes cannot participate due to financial constraints . Finding willing employers is not the only consideration; some programs may wish to provide employers with training on how to supervise and mentor youth in foster care. In a qualitative evaluation of the EmPLOY program, staff identified three key elements that supported positive employment outcomes: a job developer present on site, work experiences that are paid, and job retention services (Ellis et al. 2011). The program sites that lacked an on-site job developer to engage employers and youth were not as successful in maintaining strong connections with the employers.
While many young people continue to lourish, substantial numbers lie within a population of some 13 million who are living in poverty (DWP 2014). The gulf is widening, in inancial, human and social capital, between those who are doing well and those left behind (Dorling, 2013). Employment in secure jobs for young people and young adults has fallen sharply, often the only offering is of minimum wage jobs on zero hours contracts in a casualised labour force, thus entrenching poverty and deprivation (Shildrick et al., 2010). Social mobility has stalled and the constraining contours of wealth, class and privilege are evident. The recession of 2008-14 was particularly brutal for people without qualiications in those regions which have suffered long-term economic decline and changes to the social security beneits system (with added sanctions) have helped drive many young people deeper into poverty (Clark and Heath, 2014). The consequences of unequal, underachieving societies are well evidenced (Wilkinson and Pickett, 2010), but for young people in particular, a raft of poor welfare outcomes such as teenage pregnancy, youth offending and youth homelessness are often highlighted (Coles et al , 2010). Despite dificult economic times, public support for welfare has declined markedly over the last decade. A lack of social solidarity and collective commitment to spending on social welfare means that it is likely to be constrained for years to come. Personal debt and family poverty result in limited opportunities for new, imaginative cultural experiences. Anxiety about educational achievement and precarious future employment means that for many young people it is not a good time in which to grow up. For some, their natural exuberance and aspiration may change to passive depression behind closed doors; for others, their peer loyalties can imprison them in anti-social gang cultures. Despite its occasional extravagant claims, youthwork cannot remedy all these social ills. Nevertheless, cuts in public spending are having a devastating effect on what is offered to young people in their leisure time by the local authority and voluntary sectors alike. A service such as youthwork with a weak statutory base is always vulnerable during times of economic dificulty. In consequence, the approach to advocacy for young people and for youthwork has to be re-thought and re-fought.
There are two principles that are important here. The first is to be very clear about the mandate that you are accepting when you enter into a contract with a constituent. Does the local shopkeepers’ representative think that you have accepted a mandate to keep the kids off the street? Does the young person think that you will be their friend? What contract did you make with them, or what tacit contract have you allowed to become established? You need to be able and prepared to refuse a mandate where necessary, and to continually clarify and affirm it. Then, the young person will have no grounds to be upset when you won’t go out with them to a party, or share a joint with them, or kiss them. The police can have no complaint when you refuse to give over a young person’s name or whereabouts. Of course, this relies on you being clear about what mandates you will take on, about what your role is. We will discuss that a little more in a moment. This requirement for a clear mandate is, of course, not exclusive to youth workers.
Analyses of data from surveys with population-based and purposive samples suggest that LGB people are at increased risk for experiencing child maltreatment compared to non-LGB people. (No research is available to identify child maltreatment risk for people who identify as transgender.) For example, a meta-analysis of 37 school-based studies of adolescents, found that sexual minority adolescents were 3.8 times more likely to experience childhood sexual abuse and 1.2 times more likely to be physically abused by a parent or guardian compared to their heterosexual peers. 1 In other studies using varied
Violations of Code of Conduct or questionable behavior: Keeping children safe in the YMCA is the responsibility of all staff. YMCA staff are to report to their supervisor any questionable behavior they see or violations of the Code of Conduct. Staff are to report any indications of or warning signs concerning abuse involving a child. (More information is listed below under Mandated Reporter). Child Supervision: At no time should YMCA staff be in a situation where they are alone with a child and cannot be observed by others. The YMCA will make every attempt to design and structure its programs to eliminate the potential for a staff member to be in a one-on-one situation. YMCA staff members are not to have children enter closets or storage areas to retrieve equipment.
How should youthwork respond to such young people? Securing support for the research project was far from easy. Funders felt that white young men had dominated youthwork and education, and that they were the perpetrators of many race crimes, so why should they be ‘rewarded’ with any more resources? There also seemed to be an underlying pessimism in some quarters that such behaviour could not be changed, that ‘that’s what those sorts of young men are like’. This debate has been sharpened by the sudden switch to a public anti- racist position by many sections of the media and establishment in the wake of the MacPherson Inquiry into Stephen Lawrence’s death. Such a public move away from Racism is obviously to be welcomed, especially from the Daily Mail (although it hasn’t extended to asylum seekers), but it does leave sections of white young people, who have embraced racism as ‘their’ culture, very far from the supposed mainstream of society.
This paper attempts to address some of the fundamental problems which underlie current attempts to bring youthwork to account. Firstly it is argued that the accountability agenda with its emphasis upon outcomes and outputs misunderstands the process by which they emerge. Rather than youthwork being portrayed as a linear process it will be proposed that there is an indirect ‘incidental’ relationship between what youth workers do and the outcomes that emerge out of a process of engagement; such that simplistic accountability measures are inadequate. Secondly it is argued that given the essentially ‘moral’ nature of youthwork interventions and the resulting outcomes, ie. whether their decisions and actions enable young people to live ‘good’ lives. We need to develop a methodology for youthwork evaluation which reflects this. It will be suggested that much can be gained from an application of Aristotle’s concept of Phronesis, not least because of the importance placed on ‘context’.
As the merger plan evolved throughout the 90’s, poor inner city black youth were bused out to largely white suburban schools on “the county rim” and dilapidated schools in the poorest areas of the city were abandoned, adding to the building-graveyard of empty tobacco and textile plants strewn about the city. 4 The real estate standing empty in the city was, to development contractors and investors, a gold mine. But Alston’s “gang menace,” portrayed in a widely circulated independent documentary, constant negative local-news reporting, as well as a cameo in a national investigative news show, made selling the city to real estate buyers and downtown shoppers a difficult task. In an effort to clean up the city’s notoriously bad image, chamber of commerce officials pointed to the oft reported “gang menace” as part of the national “crisis” of youth violence and leaned heavily on the city to step up gang-prevention activity and build alternative schools for “non-traditional students.” Increasing complaints about “disruptive students” from teachers and parents in the county schools, fears about gang violence, skyrocketing suspension and expulsion rates, and the simultaneous privatization of the state’s custodial and service functions opened a wide space for the proliferation of private-sector programs speaking the language of risk and