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Have you ever heard somebody say “this generation is going down the tube!”? If you haven’t heard of this statement before, now you have. Most older people say that about today’s generation, so what happened to our youth? More and more people complain about how teenagers don’t have any respect for others and don’t want anything in life. What are you doing about it? More importantly, do you know why there are more teenagers participating in negative behavior now than ever before? Yes, I question whether or not the future generation will be a generation of degenerates. But, I also try to do something about it.
It is time to get real and stop sugar coating this issue. It is time to speak clearly and truthfully about at-risked youth from low income households. Ivy League researchers and licensed professionals always talk about how there is a large gap between minorities in education, life expectancy, and success. Yes, there is disparity between non-minorities and minorities, but researchers and licensed professionals want to attribute this disparity to environment and socio-economic status. These causes attribute to some of the disparity in education, life expectancy, and success. So what am I talking about? I’m talking about juvenile delinquency. Juvenile delinquency is not a new phenomenon. The issue has been around for years.
Look at the Social History of the United States. In the 1940s and 1905s, a child was sent to juvenile detention because he or she may have talked backed to their parents. The worst offense may have been stealing a pack of cigarettes from the local convenient store, but teenagers didn’t have the same life experiences as they do today.
Maybe It's Depression
Depression can impact anyone - Depression is not only the obvious symptoms such as anger, anxiety, and constant melancholy. Young adults experience depression differently from adults, but most adults passively show signs of depression, unlike teenagers. Why? The brain of a teenager is continually going through developmental stages. This means that teenager is starting to develop his or her own identity, emotions, and trying to deal with puberty. Therefore, it is easy for teenagers to express their feelings negatively, such as fighting, thoughts of suicide, and extreme self-consciousness. Some people say that if a child is raised in a low-income household, a single parent household, or a bad environment than the child will more than likely be a juvenile delinquent. Yes, there is some validity to the statement, but how do you explain children who grow up in the same environment and become productive citizens?
Help These Kids Now!
1. Be a Mentor.
Mentoring is one of the most popular methods for shaping a child's life, but a lot people have a misconception about how to be a successful mentor. I have worked in the juvenile support system for over a year, and the organization constantly tries to implement mentorship programs, but they have repeatedly failed. Why? The programs failed because the developers of the program couldn’t relate to the participants. In other words, how can someone raised in upper middle-class suburban America understand a teenager forced to be the “bread winner” for the family at age 16? You can’t have a positive impact on child from a disadvantage environment if you don’t have a survivalist mentality.
2. Don’t Be a Selfish Mentor.
If you are interested in working with at-risk youth, don’t take the normal approach. What is the “normal approach”? The normal approach is when you ask questions about a juvenile’s grades and mental illness and tell that they need to do well in school or they won’t go to college.
DUHH! They already know how to answer these questions and automatically know that you don’t care. To be a positive impact, you have to meet them on their level. Ask questions why? There is a story behind why they exhibit negative behavior. When you discover the real reason behind the behavior, you can start implementing strategies to change the behavior.
3. Build Trust.
At risk youth grow up in a harsh environment, which frequently causes them to develop trust issues. They have trust issues because they are constantly surrounded by people who hurt them and abandon them, so you have to build trust with a troubled teen in order to start implementing strategies to change their behavior. But start with baby steps. You can’t save everyone. But if you only impact one child, then you have accomplished your goal.