By Benjamin Chambers, August 11 2011
In the wake of the images and footage we've all seen coming out of the U.K. this week, as teens and young adults rioted and looted in London and other cities, it will be hard for the general public to remember that young people who commit crimes have strengths -- and have something to offer.
Youth should, of course, be held accountable for their actions. But youth workers in Britain understand that fear of teens as a result of the riots may well set the field back by years (e.g., "Youth charities blast riots as disastrous for image of young people"), especially if the only response is a punitive, nail-'em-and-a-jail-'em-response that neglects to provide appropriate supportive services that will help young people be successfull.
And I expect that fear of young people will rise in the United States, too. Which is why this brief, two-minute video interview (below) with Connie Flanagan, a national expert on engaging troubled youth in civic life, is timely.
A professor of Youth Civic Development at Penn State University the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ms. Flanagan speaks about the importance of giving youth in the juvenile justice system the opportunity to work together with adults on projects that benefit their communities. Only then do they get a chance to see that what they do can change their communities for the better -- they can use their powers for good, in other words.
(I should point out that Ms. Flanagan was interviewed in May, well before the riots, and was addressing a general question about how to help youth in the juvenile justice system. I just happen to think that what she said is a helpful reminder about how we can work to make sure that youth feel that they matter, and that they're invested enough in their communities so that they don't engage in riots.)
Watch the video after the jump:
Want to learn more?
Ms. Flanagan gave a great webinar called "Youth Civic Engagement" about a year ago for Reclaiming Futures. You can view the webinar and download her slides by going here and scrolling to the "Positive Youth Development" category.)
RELATED POST: Positive Youth Justice - a Model for Building Assets in the Juvenile Justice System
Photo at top: Beacon Radio, under Creative Commons license.
Updated: February 08 2018