When you hear the term “At- Risk Youth”, what comes to mind? A violent child, a poor child or something else? “At- Risk” youth is such a broad term and many factors can determine if a child is at risk or not. However, it begs the question – At risk from what? In a nutshell, an “At- Risk” youth is one who is less likely to transition into successful adulthood. How is one even classified as “At-Risk Youth’’? There are many factors which include the following:
- High school dropout
- Low-Income neighborhood
- Poor /No education
- Juvenile Delinquent
- Neglectful parents
- Sexually abused
Mostly all “At-Risk Youth” can be identified by the following:
- Running away from home
- Engaging in illegal activities (underage drinking, smoking, drug use)
- Engaging in sexual behavior
- Getting in physical fights
While this news may sound disheartening, there is some good news. With the right guidance and support system, “At- Risk Youth” can transition into successful healthy adults with a bright future!
With the right support system “At-Risk Youth can thrive!
According to an article printed on Youth.gov, Positive Youth Development (PYD) programs are beneficial to “At-Risk Youth”. These programs surround them with opportunities that provide them a way to engage in less risky behavior.
In fact, one study examined how positive influences in the lives of youth help protect against the problematic behavior. Based on 4,000 youth from all 50 states, the results were promising. The study discovered that youth engaged in PYD programs were less likely to have personal, social, and behavioral problems than other youth. In fact, some interesting findings in the study included that these youth are:
- 4x more likely to contribute to their local communities
- They are 2x more likely to participate in science and engineering programs
While you may not have a PYD program in your area, you can still help. There are ways to prevent “At- Risk Youth” from becoming “At- Risk” at all! There are some simple things you can do to help. This includes:
- Building confidence
- Providing support
- Getting them involved in extracurricular activities
Build Confidence– In a high-risk environment, youth may constantly be reminded they are “failures”. If this happens, they will believe this and continue to engage in risky behavior. The best way to prevent this from happening is to build confidence and believe in them. Show them that they are worthy and are a value to society. There are so many ways to build confidence. Some of them include:
- Listen and understand their frustrations, emotions, and goals.
- Ask for their help to show them that you value their opinion and suggestions
- Be available to attend special events or important meetings
- Show your appreciation with words of affirmation
Provide support- Most “At- Risk Youth” feel alone and like no one understands them. This can be your chance to show that you care. Offer emotional support and listen to their troubles. Be a friend, mentor and a role –model. If you find it too overwhelming, seek the help of a professional therapist who can help “At-Risk Youth” cope with their everyday struggles.
Extracurricular activities-When adolescents are involved in activities, they are less likely to get in trouble. While there are a wide variety of extracurricular activities, participating in music programs has shown promise in reducing risky behavior of young adults.
Study shows promising results that music programs can help “At –Risk Youth”
In fact, a study conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts revealed some great progress for “At-Risk Youth”. The study revealed when students engage in music and arts program they are more likely to achieve the following:
- Students have better workforce goals
- They are more involved in their local community
- Showed higher test scores in science and math
- They are more likely to enroll in a 4-year college
When “At-Risk Youth” have the right support and guidance, they can transition into successful adulthood. What are you going to do to help an “At-Risk Youth” today? Tell us in the comment section below.
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